1. WALES (Last Week: 1)
Wales remain on top of the power rankings after a victory over a defiant Scotland side. Wales really seem to be building up a head of steam as we approach the break, and will be confident ahead of their encounter with France in Cardiff.
Warren Gatland will be pleased with performances from Sam Warburton and George North in particular. Wales showed us that they can win the hard way, as they were struggling against Scotland for the first 60 minutes before North delivered the killer blow. They are usually known as the slow starters of the tournament.
2. ENGLAND (3)
England’s spectacular second half performance reminded the other teams why they are a force to be reckoned with after an abysmal first round performance against Scotland. However, the first half was marred by ill-discipline, which will be costly against stronger opposition.
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England showed that they have strength in numbers, as a number of substitutes proved to be instrumental in their victory. A strong squad is undoubtedly necessary given the physicality of the tournament.
3. FRANCE (5)
France were marvellous in attack, but beyond poor in defence in their opening game against the Italians. French fans were certainly concerned after a powerful Ireland display in Dublin in the first round.
France were lucky to have several players on the pitch after a few robust challenges on the likes of Johnny Sexton and Dave Kearney. Nevertheless, the French physicality rocked Ireland. After a poor first half performance, France turned up the heat in the second half, and brutally attacked the Irish forwards.
France can take numerous positives from this result, in particular the impact of their substitutes in particular the front row substitutions.
4. IRELAND (2)
After a tough game in Dublin last week, Ireland had six days to recover before meeting the French, in Paris. Although many may argue the defeat in Paris was narrow, Ireland did not perform to the level fans expect.
The Irish defended quite well throughout the match, but lacked creativity in attack. They were unable to penetrate the French defence, which the Italians could exploit very easily last week. This lack of creativity was exemplified by Ireland’s failure to score a single point in the second half.
Joe Schmidt will certainly be relieved that there is a two week break, so the Irish can lick their wounds and prepare for a tough encounter with England at Twickenham.
5. SCOTLAND (4)
It was close between Scotland and Ireland for the fifth spot, however it is one statistic that justifies Scotland’s place here. Their 27-23 defeat to Wales was their ninth consecutive loss in the Six Nations.
Annoyingly for the Scots they should have won this match, but their failure to put away chances has struck them again. For 60 minutes Scotland dominated Wales, to a 13-16 lead. Despite this they were unable to capitalise on their chances, and Wales punished them for it. A switch off in defence saw North create an 11-point gap.
Scotland managed a late consolation, but how many opportunities will Scotland get before they reach their true potential? Vern Cotter, will be anxious for a victory over Italy in Rome, where they have struggled in the past.
6. ITALY (6)
Despite the score-line, Italy can take a number of positives from their defeat to England. In the first half they met England with intensity and physicality. They moved the ball wide well, and made several line breaks. Michele Campagnaro, put in another impressive performance.
However a combination of injuries and fatigue, saw the Italians run out of steam. The Italians will be hoping to recover following the break as they host Scotland, with hopes of avoiding the dreaded wooden spoon.
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