Six Nations in Pictures: England close in as France hopes hit
After opening their campaign with trips to Scotland and Italy, England faced their toughest test yet as Ireland visited Twickenham in what was Eddie Jones’ home debut, but the hosts came through in a weekend which saw French hopes hit in Cardiff.
With three games done and just two to go, this year’s Six Nations Championship is firmly a three-horse fight between England, Wales and France, and with the Welsh still facing a trip to London, and England a short hop to Paris, everything is still up for grabs.
The weekend saw another trio of bruising encounters, and one which has Ireland still awaiting their first victory of the campaign – a far cry from their recent years of success.
Here’s your round-up of all the action, starting at Twickenham…
A nervy first-half ended 6-3 to Eddie Jones’ side but Ireland seized the initiative early after the break with Conor Murray’s try.
Irish hopes of a first win of the campaign were dashed in five quick-fire minutes as first Anthony Watson and then Mike Brown both went over.
Ireland rallied late on but the hosts held firm, especially Jack Nowell to deny Robbie Henshaw in the corner, and England’s 21-10 victory puts them in pole position for this year’s tournament.
On Friday night Wales looked for a fifth straight win over France, but despite dominating the first-half, needed George North’s 45th-minute try to assert their advantage.
France had laboured to victories over Italy and Ireland, and Dan Biggar’s 14 points saw Wales move 19-3 ahead in the second period.
Guilhem Guirado went over in the dying moments to add some respectability to the scoreline, but Wales are now unbeaten in seven Six Nations matches, good preparation ahead of facing England for what could be a Championship decider in two weeks’ time.
Down in Rome, Scotland wasted little time in ending their nine-game losing run by racing into a 17-3 lead through tries from John Barclay and John Hardie.
Italy responded either side of the break through Leonardo Ghiraldini and Marco Fuser, to get within seven of Vern Cotter’s Scots.
The visitors held firm however, and Tommy Seymour’s late try – converted by the excellent Greig Laidlaw – ensured Scotland’s horror run was well and truly over.
The sides return in a fortnight, where all eyes will be on the potential decider between England and Wales at Twickenham.
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