The 2014 Six Nations got off to an entertaining start this weekend, with the defending champions run close by the underdogs, a dramatic win for France and an emphatic victory for the Irish.

Here we review the opening weekend for each team.

Wales

The Welsh management will be satisfied with the defending champions 23-15 win over Italy, but will know that they need to up their game in Ireland next weekend.

Whilst Wales ground out the win, it was far from a good performance by the men in red, who were overwhelmingly expected to win comfortably. Key members of the team, particularly George North, Leigh Halfpenny and Justin Tipuric had quiet games by their high standards.

Mike Phillips was slow at the base of rucks, whilst the Welsh scrum wobbled. Nevertheless here were positives to be gleaned from the game for Wales. Jamie Roberts was excellent in the centre, repeatedly breaking the gain line, whilst Dan Lydiate looked to be getting back to his best form.

Nevertheless, the Welsh will know that they will not get away with such lacklustre performances against the more illustrious opponents they are soon to face.

Italy

A team who are without a doubt getting better and better every year. The Italians made a very talented Welsh side look fairly ordinary, despite their eight point defeat. Number eight Sergio Parisse was, as always, excellent, but Italy also appear to be developing into more than a one man team.

Michele Campagnaro was the man of the match with a superb performance and two well taken tries. The Italians made it difficult for their more celebrated opponents, with superb commitment in both attack and defence.

An occasional lack of discipline let them down, and prevented them from possibly securing a historic victory, but if they carry on playing like this, they are bound to enjoy a memorable tournament. 

France

By far the most entertaining game of the weekend was France's dramatic 26-24 victory over England.

The French were moments away from being unravelled by an excellent comeback, before a disciplined, patient attack secured them the victory. There were many positives for France to enjoy, with glimpses of the free flowing attacking play which was the hallmark of so many brilliant French squads.

Yoann Huget grabbed a brace, and constantly looked threatening, and flanker Yannick Nyanga eased the loss of Thierry Dusautoir considerably with an excellent all round performance. This win could be the catalyst to end France's recent dismal form, and launch a very real bid for the title.

England

So close, and yet so far, England will be gutted after being inches from a memorable comeback win. The men in white showed character to come back and almost snatch victory. Yet England can have nobody to blame but themselves.

They were poor for the majority of the first half, toothless in attack and timid in defence. Owen Farrell had a fairly average game, whilst debutant Jack Nowell made far too many mistakes.

Nevertheless, there were plenty of positives for England to take away. Danny Care was superb, his quick thinking ultimately leading to England's first try and revival, whilst Billy Vunipola carried ferociously. England are by no means out of the equation for the title, but losing in France is a huge blow for their ambitions. 

Ireland

Led by a rejuvenated Johnny Sexton and an excellent captains performance from Jamie Heaslip, Ireland ran riot against Scotland, chalking up an impressive 28-6 victory over the underdogs.

Whilst they did make mistakes in the first half, the second half was almost faultless, as the Irish hammered Scotland in every area of the pitch. Seemingly unaffected by the absences of Lions stars Sean O'Brien and Paul O'Connell, the forwards dominated the Scottish scrum, giving the backs a platform to attack, showing off their flair and guile.

This performance underlined Ireland's credentials as title challengers, and the match between them and Wales promises to be a classic.

Scotland

The Scottish were uninspired in their 22 point defeat to Ireland in the opening weekend of the Six Nations.

Their forwards battled hard, but were ultimately outplayed by the Irish forwards, whilst the backs, bar Stuart Hogg, seemed to lack any fluency or creativity. A nasty looking injury to Sean Maitland in the first-half would not have helped in this respect, but Scotland never looked like winning a game in which they were outclassed.

The only positive was the aforementioned Stuart Hogg, who looked brave in defence and dangerous in attack. Nevertheless, Scotland will surely be aiming to avoid the wooden spoon in such a competitive Championship this year.

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Topics:
#England Rugby
#Six Nations
#Rugby Union
#Wales Rugby