There were wins yesterday in the opening round of the Royal Bank of Scotland Six Nations Championship for England and Italy over France and Wales respectively.
England and Italy opened their RBS Six Nations Championship campaigns with wins over France and Wales respectively.
The game in Twickenham, billed as the ‘Clash of the Titans’ fell somewhat short of that billing because one of the Titans didn’t turn up. The particular one that did, was dressed in white and dominated and dictated for most of the game.
Johnny Wilkinson landed four first half penalties to once again demonstrate how important an accurate place kicker is in the modern game. Gerard Merceron missed crucial and kickable penalties in the 32nd and 74th minutes for a stragely lack-lustre visiting outfit.
The French were uncharacteristically hesitant in the opening half, their handling particularly poor and more often than not, their runners tending to run across the pitch. They scored their try when Charlie Hodgson had an attempted clearance blocked down for Olivier Magne to score under the posts but even then they looked far from convincing.
And in the second half it was England who displayed more urgency and industry. That paid off in the 48th minute with a try for Jason Robinson, a score that effectively sealed the outcome – even at such an early stage.
The French did show something of what they’re capable of with a Clement Poitrenaud try in the 66th minute, but that was after Wilkinson had added a drop goal to his fifth penalty, and at a stage when England had already started to think ahead to their next challenge.
They won’t be pleased about letting Xavier Garbajosa in for an injury time try but that score only served to flatter this French side who only started to play after England had secured the win.
Earlier in the day, in Rome, Italy won their second Six Nations championship match when they defeated Wales 30-22. It was a victory they richly deserved after Wales produced an abysmal second half performance.
It was 20-17 in favour of the Italians at halftime after an entertaining opening period during which both sides played open attractive rugby. There was two tries apiece with Diego Dominguez giving the home team their advantage with a penalty and drop goal in the closing stages.
In the second half Wales simply didn’t perform and in the 60 minute the outstanding Italian number 8 Matt Phillips scored the decisive try after Wales had lost the ball at the tail of their own scrum. Inevitably Dominguez added the conversion and tapped over a penalty for good measure before the Welsh scored a consolation try from Dwayne Peel.