Rugby

Scotland and Wales are back on track after wins over Italy and France respectively

Eoghan Morrissey Sat, Feb 9
 
Scotland
34
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Italy
10
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  • Good afternoon and welcome to the second weekend of the Six Nations. After a cracking opening series of games, we’re here today with a live blog covering Scotland v Italy which kicks off at 2.30pm at Murrayfield and France v Wales at Stade de France at 5.00pm.

  • My name is Eoghan Morrissey and I’ll be with you until the final ruck is cleared out later today. We’d love to hear from you regarding today’s games, predictions for tomorrow, your Lions team or whatever takes your fancy. You can leave a comment by clicking on that big comment button at the top of the screen or you can contact me on Twitter @EoghanMorrissey
     
  • We have about 40 minutes to go before our first kick off of the day so you might have time to read how Ireland’s Under-20s and club sides got the weekend off to a good start with wins over England. Elsewhere, Gerry Thornley and Matt Williams preview tomorrow's game while Gavin Cummiskey looks at a more humble England.  
  • Elsewhere, Ireland’s women’s side take on England today in Ashbourne, kicking off about now. You can watch the match on Irish Rugby TV here
  • So to get you in the mood, here are the highlights from Italy’s massive win over France.
  • And not so stirring, here are the highlights of Scotland's loss to England the last day out.
  • While tomorrow’s game has all the appearances of being a Championship decider, today’s first encounter looked like a wooden spoon play-off when the fixtures were originally announced. However, Italy’s win over France has maybe forced a revaluation of their targets for the season, with today representing a real chance to claim two wins in a Six Nations campaign for the first time in their history.
  • Scotland produced an improved performance against England butit was their fourth successive Test defeat, including an embarrassing loss at home to Tonga which cost Andy Robinson his position.

    Interim Scott Johnson has made two changes from last Saturday, flanker Robert Harley replacing the injured Alastair Strokosch while Ross Ford comes in for Dougie Hall at hooker. For Italy, centre Albert Sgarbi has an ankle injury, Gonzalo Canale fills in, having recovered from a thigh strain. Unsurprisingly, that’s the one change made by Jacques Brunel.   

  • The teams are out on the pitch. 
  • The bookies have Italy as favourites for this one  - surely the first time they’ve been favoured in an away Six Nations game – as the Scots looks to avoid what would be a fifth successive home Test defeat.

    Here are the teams:

    Scotland: Stuart Hogg; Sean Maitland, Sean Lamont, Matt Scott, Tim Visser; Ruaridh Jackson, Greig Laidlaw; Ryan Grant, Ross Ford, Euan Murray; Richie Gray, Jim Hamilton; Rob Harley, Kelly Brown, Johnnie Beattie. Replacements: Pat MacArthur, Moray Low, Geoff Cross, Alastair Kellock, David Denton, Henry Pyrgos, Duncan Weir, Max Evans.

    Italy: Andrea Masi, Giovanbattista Venditti, Tommaso Benvenuti, Gonzalo Canale, Luke McLean; Luciano Orquera, Tobias Botes; Andrea Lo Cicero Vaina, Leonardo Ghiraldini, Martin Castrogiovanni; Quintin Geldenhuys, Francesco Minto; Alessandro Zanni, Simone Favaro, Sergio Parisse. Replacements: Davide Giazzon, Alberto de Marchi, Lorenzo Cittadini, Antonio Pavanello, Paul Derbyshire, Edoardo Gori, Kris Burton, Gonzalo Garcia.

  • Pleasantries have been taken care of and now it's time for the anthems
  • A lovely jaunty Italian number is followed by the more dirge like `Flower of Scotland'. It improves once the bagpipes drop out but still it's definitely one-nil to Italy in the singing. And a cannon is fired off at the end as as well for some reason. 
  • South Africa's Jaco Peyper is the referee as Scotland, playing in white kick off.  
  • 2 mins: After some aerial ping pong. Maitland almost gets on the end of Laidlaw's kick two metres out. But the ball goes back for an Italian scrum on the ten-metre line  

  • 3 mins: Free kick at the scrum and Italy break free. Both sides are trying to play with the ball in hand, which is refreshing to see  
  • 4 mins: Brown gives away a penalty just short of half-time which McLean kicks down the line 
  • 5 mins: And Jim Hamilton comes in from the side following the lineout and Italy have a kick at goal from the Scotland ten metre line. 
  •  7 mins: Which Orquera hits the post from!  
  • Padjo Hope Italy can do it today. They and parisse deserve a big year
  •  7 mins: Italy regain possession and Hogg is buried after a kick through
  • 8 mins: Lamont's kick is blocked at a ruck and it's a scrum to Italy on Scotland's 22
  • 10 mins: Scrum collapses, is reset before Italy turn the ball over and Jackson kicks clear before Masi returns the kick back outside Scotland's 22. Good period of play for Italy
  •  In fact it's all Italy so far
  • 12 mins: A poor kick by Orquera is returned by Hogg and the Italian outhalf misfires to give Scotland a lineout on Italy's 22
  • 13 mins: Scotland claim the lineout and good breaks by Beattie and Hamliton before the referee brings the ball back for a Scotland pen in front of the posts
  • 14 mins: Laidlaw kicks the penalty
  • 16 mins: Botes is injured but recovers and another scrum to Italy just short of halfway.  Again Italy bash at the fringes but Scotland's fringe defence is holding so far. Parisse knocks on when Italy had a chance to move it  
  • 18 mins: And the ref gets smacked in the head by Laidlaw's pass. Always nice to see
  • 20 mins: Scrum, kick, kick, kick and it's a lineout to Italy on Scotland's ten
  • 22 mins: Italy bash away before a Canale grubber is returned. Botes is pinged harshly for holding on. Penalty to Scotland
  • 23 mins: Which is kicked inside Italy's 10
  • 23 mins: Lineout maul which Lo Cicero collapses. Penalty to Scotland
  • 24 mins: Which Laidlaw kicks
  • Scotland a little lucky to lead 6-0. All the territory has been between the 22s so far
  • 26 mins: After his incredible showing last week, Orquera is looking a little shaky this week as his kick off fails to go ten metres
  • 27 mins: A poor kick by Lamont is well chased by Scott Fantastic tackle by Botes denies the centre in the corner inches from the line. Best chance of a try so far. 
  • 29 mins: Try Scotalnd! Scotland keep up the pressure and it's great play by Jackson. A fantastic offload  by Visser who receives the ball five metres out , steps inside Botes to score  

  • 30 mins: Laidlaw nails the conversion from a difficult angle
  • Great finish by the flying Dutchman there, the first time Scotland have really looked threatening 
  • 33 mins: Good possesson once more but Italy knock on again and they are making too many little errors that they just didn't make last week 
  • 35 mins: Scotalnd go backwards in possession before Italy get a penalty just inside Scotland's half. Orquera kicks to Scotland's 22. This might be their first visit to the home side's 22 
  • 37 mins: Italy work the lineout but Scotland's fringe defence is strong once before they concede a penalty for coming in from the side 
  • 39 mins: Orquera kicks it this time in his weird wobbly style.  This will give the Italians some hope going in to half-time
  • Half-time: Disappointing enough game but Scotalnd will be happy with their lead. Here's hoping it gets a little better in the seond half.
  • Looking at the replays it looks as if it might have been Parisse's fault as he stepped out of the line leaving a two on one for Scotland. Pity for who is possibly the world's best number eight.
  • On the RTE panel, Brent Pope says the game is "rife with schoolboy errors"  while George Hook says Italy are "playing like a drain". Shane Horgan just sits there looking cool in his skinny tie.
  • In Ashbourne, Ireland's women's side is losing 25-0 to England
  • That was Tim Visser's fifth try in seven Tests. Some record for the top scorer for teh past three seasons in the Rabo
  • 40 mins: Italy kick off

  • 42 mins: Italy are still trying to keep the ball in hand but errors are letting them down again. They have pressuere biut concede a penalty  whichh Scotland kick to Italy's 22
  • 43 mins: Try Scotland! Off the lineout, Maitland pops a pass to Scott 22 metres out who had gambled on the half-break on his shoulder. The centre has an easy run to the line. Laidlaw converts 
  • It could be a long way back for Italy from here as Scotland's defence has been outstanding today.
  • 46 mins: Try Scotland! Good attacking pressure by Italy including some great play by Canale and Masi. But as a sign of Italy's luck today Orquera's seemingly try-scoring pass is picked off by Hogg who returns it 75 metres for a try. 
  • Laidllaw converts and unsurprisingly Orquera has been given the hook, Burton is on.
  • Brilliant run by Graeme Hogg after his try last week
  • 51 mins: Italy wheel a scrum and get the put in. They really need to start playing or this could get bad
  • 52 mins: They win a penalty and kick to the corner. Great position 
  • 51 mins: Zanni takes the lineout, Scotland collapse and fail to release. Italy go for the scrum five meters out. Three points are no use to them
  • Botes is off and Italy have replaced both their halfbacks.
  • 55 mins: And Parisse makes another error, knocking on from the back off the scrum, although he was disrupted by Hartley. Scotland then decimate the Italian scrum for a penalty
  • 58 mins: Good driving by Italy but they still can't quite breach the Scottish defence for whom their backrow has been outstanding. Unfortunately the Italians just can't stretch them enough
  • 60 mins: But they butcher another attacking over and Scotalnd clear. Tackles made so far: Scotland 104  Italy 40
  • 62 mins: Despite all of Italy's attacking efforts, Scotland now have a lineout in their opponents'  22 after another penalty for holding on.

  • Correction: Ireland's women have beaten England 25-0. It's the first time they've ever  beaten them
  • 64 mins: Another Scots' attacking lineout and they pick from the fringes, Scott is in again at the corner from a Maitland pass. Unfortunately it looks ever so marginally forward and is disallowed 
  • That's about the first chance they've missed. Scotalnd have been very clinical today 
  • 67 mins: The benches are being emptied here. That fine Italian named Paul Derbyshire comes on for Italy. He should swap with Tipperary footballer Aldo Matassa 
  • 68 mins: Fourth try for Scotland. Lamont just picks a loose ball from the back of an Italian ruck and races from halfway to score. 
  • 70 mins: Laidlaw converts. You'd have to feel sorry for Italy here. Nothing is going their way.
  • And they definitely haven't been 31 points worse than Scotland 
  • 72 mins: Italy are still going her and they have a scrum five meters out. Stuart Hogg has gone off to a rousing reception.
  • 73 mins:Try Italy!  At last reward for Italy as Zanni goes over from a well-worked backrow move from the scrum.
  • Burton converts
  • They're singing ''Flower of Scotland' around Murrayfield now. It's still a dirge of a song though
  • It's been 72 percent possession for Italy in this half and theyve had 70 percent of the territory
  • 78 mins: It's all a bit messy and huffy-puffy now. Greig Laidlaw has been given man of the match
  • 80 mins: Geoff Cross gets a yellow card in injury time as Scotland droive for as fifth try. And that's that. Scotland win with four tries, despite all the stats being against them. It was superb defence and fine finishing which got them there. As always they will fancy their chances playing Ireland at home in a fortnight's time while for Italy this truly was a day to forget.   
  • George Hook says Ireland have nothing to fear from Scotland in two weeks' time "except fear itself".

  • Next up we've got Wales v Franc in Paris, kick-off at 5.00pm
  • And a lovely blast from the past in between games , Ireland beating England 3-0 in 1951 on their way to claiming the Five Nations championship. Some colour footage from the game courtesy of RTE as lock Des McKibbin toebogs a penalty to give Ireland the win.  
  • The last time France met Wales met in Paris, this was a pretty decent encounter.
  • Here are the first half highlights of Scotland v Italy...
  • For those you follwing on The Irish Times app follow this link for first-half highlights http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F2z3T82U5C4&feature=share&list=PLg20xIo2wglJyFSlhBxvxDPop30ACUmIr
  • Next up is Wales v France which if not a Championship decider, could knock one side completely out of contention as you could see either side going to win the remainder of their games. This could deoend ion which sides show up. Will it be the limp Wales of the first half of last Saturday’s game or the flaccid French side of the entire game against Italy  

    Surprisingly, the big unit Bastareaud is the only enforced change for France after that seismic loss to Italy . The Toulon centre starts a France game for the first time in three years, taking Florian Fritz’s place with Phillipe St Andre denying Fritz has been punished for the shock defeat in Rome, claiming he wants “a 10-12-13 liaison between players from the same club”.

    Captain Pascel Pape drops out with a back injury with Toulon's Jocelino Suta replacing him at lock  while Thierry Dusuatoir takes over as skipper

  • Wales’ captain, Sam Warburton is out with a shoulder injury Ryan Jones takes over as skipper and comes in as blindside flanker replacing Aaron Shingler, with Justin Tipuric, after impressing when coming on as a substitute in the defeat to Ireland filling in for Warburton on the other side of the back-row. The only other change to the Welsh side sees Ospreys hooker Richard Hibbard taking the place of Matthew Rees.

  • And here are your teams:

    France: Yoann Huget; Wesley Fofana, Mathieu Bastareaud, Maxime Mermoz, Benjamin Fall; Frederic Michalak, Maxime Machenaud; Yannick Forestier, Dimitri Szarzewski, Nicolas Mas; Jocelino Suta, Yoann Maestri; Fulgence Ouedraogo, Thierry Dusautoir, Louis Picamoles. Replacements:  Benjamin Kayser, Vincent Debaty, Luc Ducalcon, Romain Taofifenua, Damien Chouly, Morgan Parra, Francois Trinh-Duc, Florian Fritz.

    Wales: Leigh Halfpenny; Alex Cuthbert, Jonathan Davies, Jamie Roberts, George North; Dan Biggar, Mike Phillips; Gethin Jenkins, Richard Hibbard, Adam Jones; Andrew Coombs, Ian Evans; Ryan Jones, Justin Tipuric, Toby Faletau. Replacements: Ken Owens, Paul James, Craig Mitchell, Lou Reed, Aaron Shingler, Lloyd Williams, James Hook, Scott Williams.

  • Five mins to kick off as the teams take to the field 
  • And now two of the best anthems in the world.
  • Slightly spoiled by being actually being able to hear the Welsh team sing. They're no choir boys... 
  • Quelle superbe chanson!

  • Wales kick off and Fofana is tackled inside his 22. Welsh lineout which they botch by going long
  • 2 mins: Early penalty as Wales are mashed in the scrum
  • 3 mins: Phillips bursts from the tail of a Welsh lineout but Wales knockout 
  • Ireland's George Clancy is referee today. Alain Rolland is touch judge and will be hoping for no repeat of the World Cup controversy 
  • 5 mins: Wales have had all the territory and possession so far but with little reward as Biggar is miles wide with a  drop-goal attempt.
  • 6 mins: Both sides are keeping the ball in hand while they settle in
  • 7 mins: A series of scrums right now and the pitch is cutting up quite badly. The French put the squeeze on but Wales manage to retain the put in
  • 8 mins: Another knock on by Wales. It's been very stop start so far although the away side look more lively
  • 10 mins: Ryan Jones concedes a penalty for coming in from the side and France get in to Wales' half for the first time
  • 11 mins: Shocking dropped pass by Dusautoir under no pressure. Big hit by Bastereaud rescues things for France
  • 13 mins: Some slighhtly better play from France and they get a scrum penalty for for them. Michalak will have a shot at goal just over halfway
  • 14 mins: It's ugly and wobbly but it's over
  • 15 mins: From the restart Ouedraogo gives away a penalty on halfway which Biggar kicks to the corner
  • 16 mins: The French maul them back brilliantly and Wales try to attack through Roberts who is nailed by Bastereaud. However Miachalak's high tackle gives Halfpenny an easy penalty which he kicks. 
  • 19 mins: Falle briliantly claims a Machenaud kick to set up French possession. Fine interplay between backs and forwards with Michalak pull strings while Huget holds on to the ball twice when he should have passed for almost certain tries. But Wales turn the ball over and clear  

  • 22 mins: Huget makes amends by blocking Halfpenny's kick in the Welsh 22 and France are on the attack again.
  • 24 mins: Good defence by Wales as they turn over the ball but France are starting to really motor here 
  • 23 mins: Wales relieve the pressure by claiming a penalty scrum bringing play to halfway 
  • 26 mins: Wales put together a good phase of possession to take the sting out of the French. The defence holds as Tipuric is particularliy impressive before an overcooked kick from Biggar is claimed by Huget

  • 28 mins: Good play by Wles gives them a lineout on the Frenh five metre line. Masetri robs it in the maul and Falle kicks clear to bring on frantic piece of back and forth. But the winger wastes the overlap, kicking the ball himself and the chance is lost . 
  • 31 mins: Ian Evans concedes a penalty for collaping the lineout and Michalak kicks up the line to the Welsh 10.
  • 34 mins: They maul the ball brilliantly but ultimately Picamoles is pinged for holding on. Indeed Wales are holding on in the face of some strong French pressure.
  • 37 mins: Good period of play for Wales as they get some rumbles going and have some goood possession after a loose kick from Micahalak. Hibbert and Faletau have been impressive in the loose while North is quick to come off his wing. Unfortunately Biggar overcooks his kick and France clear. 
  • 38 mins: France concede penalty for not rolling away and Biggar kicks to France's 10
  • 40 mins: Wales claim the lineout but a horrific pass from Phillips means Biggar kicks the ball out for half-time.
  • Half-time and it's three all as the home crowd whistle their side off. And not in a  good way
  • In truth it's been a pretty poor half. France don't seem to have a decent game plan and their backline - with so many playing out of position and Michalak playing pretty badly - doesn't seem to have a clue. Fofana hasn't received a pass yet while Bastereaud is at least bringing some power through the middle.

    Wales are trying to keep the ball away from the French forwards but it remains to be seen how much longer they can keep that game up.

    But here's hoping the second half is better.
  • Second half is on...

  • France have taken off their one actual winger on the pitch as Trinh-Duc is on for Falle
  • 42 mins: Straight from the kick off Wales get a penalty for not rolling away in front of the post which Halfpenny kicks.
  • 44 mins: A lineout inside Wales' 22, France surprisingly go for a drop-goal in front of the posts but Trinh-Duc misses. Shocking decision and execution as the French fowards looked as if they could have rumbled over for a try there.  The crowd really didn't like that.
  • 48 mins: More aimless kicking from Michalak. Some good bashing from Bastereaud and Fofana actually gets a pass. But France are playing in front of Wales who have no problem bottling them up.  
  • 50 mins: The pitch is cutting up horribly at every scrum.
  • 51 mins: Scrum set, rest, scrum set, reset, subsitution, scrum set, rest, scrum set, reset, subsitution, scrum. Free kick. Finally penalty. There's five minutes of your life you'll never get back.   

  • 52 mins: Michalak kicks the penalty to make it 6-6. As Ralph Keyes just said neither side deserves to win here.
  • 54 mins: From teh kick off France set a good maul which Picamoles breaks away from but the French knock on. Wales break through Halfpenny past halfway and kick to the French 22
  • 55 mins: Biggest cheer of the day as Parra comes on for France. Wales slow down the lineout and get a scrum on the French 22 but concede a penaly for losing the bind. 
  • 57 mins: It's quite sad to see the shocking state of this French backline. This time it's Phillips with an awful kick to turn over possession.
  • 60 mins: More mistakes, more errors, more bad kicks, more knock ons
  • The two games today have really contrasted to last weekend's stunning series of ties. Here's hoping for the last 20 mins 
  •  64 mins: France get some go forward ball but it's slow and laboured and their recycling is terrible . Wales are hitting hard around the fringes and they just can't make any progress. A Wales knock on brings a scrum 
  • Peter Looks like nothing is happening ?
  • Unfortunately, you're too right Peter!
  • 65 mins: Scrum, reset etc. Finally penalty to Wales
  • 67 mins: The touch judges and wingers are jogging up and down on the spot trying to keep warm. Wales have a lineout on halfway. They make predicatble shunts left and right with no progress. Most of this game seems to have taken place between the 22s. 
  • 68 mins: A little flurry of excitement as France put a few passes together but the ball hits Huget in the face and the chance is lost. This is awful
  • 70 mins: Try! Excitement at last! Wales attack from a loose French kick. Biggar pulls off a beautiful chip to the corner which sits up nicely for North to bash through the defender and score in the corner.
  • 73 mins: Halfpenny nails a brilliant conversion
  • Dotsy Wales looking stronger of the two sides
  • 74 mins: And from the kick off Wales rumble foward and get a penalty five metres inside the French half. Halfpenny goes for the posts and makes it!
  • 75 mins: And that's the game. 'Bread of Heaven' is being sung around the Stade de France
  • 76 mins: The knives are going to be out for Phillpe Saint-Andre after this. Things were bad were under Marc Lievremont but they have looked completely clueless and bereft of ideas tonight.
  • 78 mins: France are on the attack on the Welsh 22 but once again they knock on. More boos and whistles. 
  • 80 mins: And a cacaphony of noise around the Stade de France. Incredibly France are out of contention for the Championship after just two games while Wales' hopes are still alive and they finally end their losing streak at eight games. This was a shocking showing from the home side and from an Irish perspective, they will have nothing to fear from the French.  

  • If you're still awake out there, thanks very much for being with us, and I can only apologise for the low standard of rugby today.  

    Let's hope things improve when you join us tomorrow for the main event Ireland v England, kick off at 3.00pm.
  • dotsy I made that comment before the try!
  • Yes you did, Dotsy. Yes you did.
  • The highlights of the first half can be watched here
  • Thanks for reading, folks. Join us tomorrow for the big one. Ireland V England.

    Slán