RBS Six Nations Champions 2010 France
WALES 33-10 ITALY
MILLENNIUM STADIUM – Saturday 20th March 2010
TWO second-half tries from James Hook and an 18-point man-of-the-match display from fly-half Stephen Jones saw Wales end their disappointing RBS 6 Nations by turning their first half-time lead in the competition into a comfortable victory over Italy in Cardiff.
Wales dominated the first half but had only four Stephen Jones penalties and a 12-3 lead to show for their efforts but they wore down a dogged Italian defence in the second half to get Hook over for tries in five minutes with Shane Williams adding a third touchdown before Azzurri full-back Luke McLean grabbed a late consolation score for the visitors.
Jones kicked two penalties in the first quarter of the contest but wave after wave of Welsh attack failed to produce a try with a Lee Byrne effort chalked off because Williams’ pass had gone forward in the build-up.
Jones stretched Wales’ lead to 9-0 in the 32nd minute and by half-time his fourth successful penalty had Wales 12-0 clear at the interval and things didn’t improve for the visitors after the break with the home straight back into its stride at the re-start.
When Wales went wide early in the 52nd minute with Byrne’s break pulling the Italian defence wide before scrum-half Mike Phillips and Jones to put Hook through scrum-half Tito Tebaldi’s powder-puff tackle to score the first Welsh try.
The Italians were then reduced to 14 men when Mauro Bergamasco was binned for coming into at the side and Wales immediately took advantage with Jones, who was to add his second conversion, slipping Hook over under the posts for his and Wales’ second try.
That gave Wales a 26-0 lead and killed the match off as any kind of contest, although Italy broke their duck with a 63rd minute penalty from Mirco Bergamasco before Williams pounced when Phillips was held up short of the line to stretch the home side’s lead to 33-3 after Jones added the conversion.
Italy, though, were to have the last word when McLean notched a great individual try with Bergamasco adding the extras.
IRELAND 20-23 SCOTLAND
CROKE PARK – Saturday 20th March 2010
DAN Parks' last-minute penalty ruined Ireland's Croke Park farewell, put paid to Irish hopes of fifth Triple Crown in seven years and made sure Scotland finished the 2010 RBS 6 Nations Championship on a high with a thrilling and deserved 23-20 win.
Narrowly beaten in Cardiff by a last-gasp Welsh fight-back earlier in the championship and unlucky not to have beaten England in Edinburgh a week earlier, Scotland took the gamer to Ireland to take a 17-7 lead and then saw Parks nail a touchline penalty at 20-20 to clinch the Scots first win in Dublin since 1998.
Parks kicked Scotland into a 3-0 lead in the sixth minute with the first of his five penalties, but Ireland came roaring back with a try five minutes later, set up by fly-half Jonny Sexton, who added the conversion, and finished in style by Ireland skipper Brian O’Driscoll, taking him to 39 Test tries.
But far from sparking Ireland into action, that fired up the Scots and when centre Graeme Morrison fed Johnnie Beattie down the right, the Glasgow number eight shrugged off Geordan Murphy and Paul O’Connell to touch down in the corner for an unconverted score.
Sexton missed a long-range penalty and Parks punished his miss to give Scotland a 10-7 lead and Parks rubbed salt in Irish wounds with a drop-goal on the stroke of half-time to send Scotland in 14-7 up at the interval.
Sexton then missed a golden chance to cut Scotland’s lead early in the second half and, again, Parks showed him the way to give Scotland a ten-point cushion with 46 minutes gone.
Ireland boss Declan Kidney immediately withdrew Sexton after he slotted his next kick at goal and sent on Ronan O’Gara, who was quickly involved in setting up a try for Tommy Bowe and the4n added the touchline conversion to set up a grandstand finish to an enthralling contest.
With seven minutes to go, Parks missed a drop-goal knowing a penalty was coming and he took the three points only to see O’Gara replay at the other end to tie the game up at 20-20.
But, with the clock counting down the final minute, Parks showed nerves of steel on the left-half touchline to clip over the superb kick which silenced the Croke Park crowd, sparked Scotland’s victory celebrations and consigned Italy to the role of wooden-spoonists.
T: O’Driscoll, Bowe
C: Sexton, O’Gara
P: Sexton, O’Gara
FRANCE 12-10 ENGLAND
STADE DE FRANCE – Saturday 20th March 2010
FRANCE won their ninth Grand Slam title and their first since 2004 in the Stade de France but they were pushed all the way by an England side which produced its best performance of the championship.
Martin Johnson’s widely criticised men had been written off as virtual no-hopers in Paris but England produced the only try of the contest when full-back Ben Foden crossed the French line for a touchdown set up by his Northampton clubmate Chris Ashton.
France, who stuck to a cautious game-plan and ended up grinding out their crucial victory thanks to three penalties from scrum-half Morgan Parra and a Francois Trinh-Duc drop-goal in the first half, played second fiddle to a superior England side after the break.
But a second-half penalty from replacement Jonny Wilkinson was not enough to set the visitors up for a late victory push.
France went into the match already guaranteed the championship after Scotland shocked Ireland at Croke Park earlier in the day and they led early on when Trinh-Duc notched a scruffy drop-goal.
But England hit back with a superb try created by quick ruck ball and superb handling across the back-line which saw Ashton send Foden clear to score with Toby Flood nailing the touchline conversion.
Parra missed a penalty to reduce the deficit but he found his range in the 18th minute with England being consistently penalised by referee Bryce Lawrence in the scrum to pull France back to within a point.
And two more penalties in the 23rd and 35th minutes against the England front row saw Parra send France in 12-7 ahead at the break, prompting England to pull tight-head Dan Cole and hooker Dylan Hartley off at the interval with David Wilson and Steve Thompson replacing them.
That signaled an immediate improvement from England, who went on to dominate the third quarter of the match, although they had only a missed drop-goal shot from Flood to show for their with Ashton squandering one great try-scoring chance when he had four men in support with only Clement Poitrenaud standing in the way of an England score.
When Wilkinson replaced Riki Flutey, he clipped over a difficult penalty to cut France’s lead to two points but the expected grandstand finish never materialised as France switched to ten-man rugby to run the clock down to a Grand Slam-clinching win.
P: Parra 4
IRELAND 27-12 WALES
CROKE PARK - Saturday 13 March 2010
SCRUM-HALF Tomas O'Leary was the toast of Dublin after the Munster half-back created two tries and scored another in a 27-12 RBS 6 Nations victory over Wales at Croke Park which made Ireland odds-on favourites for a Triple Crown triumph when they take on Scotland in the final round of the 2010 championship.
After an evenly-contested opening quarter to the match, Ireland took full advantage of Lee Byrne’s sin-binning to score tries from Keith Earls and O’Leary to go 16-6 ahead at the break.
Wales’ aggregate half-time score in the Championship so far reads 18-67 and it could have been far worse had Jonathan Sexton not had an off day with the boot but, again, Wales had roared back after the break although Earls’ second try on the hour killed the game off as a contest.
Sexton missed a glorious opportunity to open the scoring when he missed a third-minute penalty and opposite number Stephen Jones was on target in the ninth minute before Sexton hit the target in the 16th minute to level it up.
In the ten minutes that followed, Sexton kicked Ireland 6-3 ahead and when Byrne was sent to the cooler, O’Leary took a quick tapped penalty and skipper Brian O’Driscoll slipped Earls over for an unconverted try.
O’Leary then went from provider to finisher, picking up Paul O’Connell’s off-load and twisting his way past the covering Leigh Halfpenny for a second unconverted Irish try, leaving Jones to keep Wales still just about in the game at the interval with a second successful pot at goal.
Predictably Wales came out fired up for the second half and piled pressure on the home side but they were unable to turn it into points, although Sexton and Jones exchange penalties to make it 19-9 after 54 minutes.
But Wales got no closer as O’Leary burst through the visitors’ defence and fed Earls, who rolled out of Shane Williams' tackle to make it 24-9 with his second try of the match.
Jones’ fourth penalty kept Wales within touching distance but a late drop-goal from Sexton wrapped up a deserved Irish victory.
T: Earls 2, O’Leary
P: Sexton 3
SCOTLAND 15-15 ENGLAND
MURRAYFIELD - Saturday 13 March 2010
ENGLAND may have retained the Calcutta Cup in a 15-15 draw with Scotland at Murrayfield bit on the strength of a dour RBS 6 Nations contest in Edinburgh, England have little chance of upsetting the French charge towards a Grand Slam in Paris and Scotland will be unable to deprive Ireland of a Triple Crown in Dublin.
Scotland dominated most of the first half with three penalties from fly-half Dan Parks to two from Jonny Wilkinson giving the home side a 9-6 advantage at the interval and with neither side able to manufacture a try and when Toby Flood – on as a replacement for the injured Wilkinson – hit the post with a 76th minute penalty, it finished all-square.
An error-strewn opening to the match saw Parks open the scoring with a sixth-minute penalty and Wilkinson level it up eight minutes later but Parks had Scotland ahead again inside four minutes.
Just after the half-hour mark, Wilkinson made it 6-6 with a penalty after Euan Murray was penalised for bringing down a scrum – an area of the game which was to cause problems for referee Marius Jonker all afternoon.
When the sides went in at the interval, Scotland undoubtedly deserved their half-time lead after Parks clipped over a drop-goal but Wilkinson cancelled that out after the break before he left the action with a head injury, making way for Toby Flood.
The Leicester fly-half almost immediately kicked England into the lead for the first time with Parks responding in the 51st minute to tie it up again at 12-12 and a long delay followed while Scotland back-rower and England wing Ugo Monye both had to leave the action after treatment following a sickening clash of heads.
After missing one long-range penalty, Flood kicked to the corner and England opted for a five-metre scrum when the Scots were penalised at the line-out, but Flood’s long looped pass aimed at Mark Cueto was picked off by Max Evans.
With the Scottish defence offside, Flood could not miss in front of the posts and it was 15-12 and when Parks hit the post with a penalty and the ball fell back into Scottish hands, he squandered a try-scoring chance with a grubber kick when he had men in space out wide.
But Parks rescued Scotland with a fourth successful penalty with ten minutes left and when a long-range penalty from Flood fell short and his late drop-goal shot was charged down, the clock ran out on a contest long on effort but short on inspiration.
P: Parks 4
FRANCE 46-20 ITALY
STADE DE FRANCE - Sunday 14 March
FRANCE are within touching distance of their first RBS 6 Nations Grand Slam since 2004 after an emphatic six-try, 46-20 victory over Italy at the Stade de France set them up for a home clash with England in Paris with few likely to be backing Martin Johnson’s misfiring side to pull off an upset.
France were on the front foot from the word go against the Azzurri and they had the first try on the board after just six minutes when Morgan Parra off-loaded to number eight Imanol Harinordoquy and his strength carried him over under the posts with Parra comfortably adding the extras.
Parra put away a penalty to stretch France into a 10-0 lead inside ten minutes and when Italian centre Gonzalo Garcia was sin-binned, France stepped up a gear to put the game away with two quick-fire tries from David Marty with Parra converting the first.
Italy got their first points on the board five minutes before half-time when Mirco Bergamasco fired over a penalty and, after the break, Parra and Bergamasco kicked a penalty apiece before Les Bleus again stepped up the pace.
That produced another home try in the 51st minute, when Marc Andreu scored his first international try with Parra converting and the little Castres wing then turned provider to lay on a score for Yannick Jauzion.
Parra added the extras again and then set up France’s sixth try for replacement flanker Alexandre Lapandry on the hour before taking his conversion count to five, effectively ending the match as any kind of contest.
With Les Bleus’ foot off the gas, Italy then had their best spell of the match, hitting back with two consolation late tries, both converted by Bergamasco.The first was touched down by replacement Carlo Antonio Del Fava and laid on by fly-half Craig Gower and the second came when Canavosio picked the ball up at the back of a 72nd minute Azzurri scrum and darted over under the posts.
T: Marty 2, Andreu, Jauzion, Laparty, Harinordoquy
C: Parra 5
P: Parra 2
T: Canavosio, Del Fava
C: Bergamasco 2
P: Bergamasco 2
WALES 20-26 FRANCE
MILLENNIUM STADIUM – Friday 26th February 2010
FRANCE stayed on course for Grand Slam triumph after they denied Wales a comeback victory in the Millennium Stadium to chalk up a 26-20 victory after building a commanding 20-0 half-time lead thanks to interception tries from wing Alexis Palisson and fly-half François Trinh-Duc.
In their previous outing in Cardiff, Wales had wiped out a 12-point Scotland lead to grab a last-gasp victory but this time, the came up short despite a stunning second-half comeback.
Disaster struck for Wales in the seventh minute when James Hook opted to miss out centre partner Jamie Roberts with a flat pass and Jerome Palisson stepped in to pick the wayward pass off, flicked on the afterburners and cruised away touch down under the post for his first Six Nations try.
Scrum-half Morgan Parra converted to give France a dream start to the contest and they could have gone further ahead had Trinh-Duc been on target with a long-range drop-goal in the 20th minute.
With Les Bleus dominant at the breakdown, Parra slotted over a penalty when Wales open-side Martyn Williams went off his feet at a ruck and when Wales scrum-half Richie Rees repeated the offence, Parra stroked France into a 13-0 lead.
And when Shane Williams tried to keep the ball alive with a flicked pass inside close to the touchline, Trinh-Duc intercepted and galloped clear for France’s second try with Parra’s conversion sending the visitors in 20-0 to the good at the interval.
But Wales came out firing on all cylinders after the break and fly-half Stephen Jones overtook Neil Jenkins as his country’s top Six Nations points-scorer with a 46th minute penalty and he slotted a second kick two minutes later to spark the home side into life.
When a quick tapped penalty caused panic in the French defence, Shane Williams slipped wing partner Leigh Halfpenny over in the corner and Jones converted to make it 20-13 with Parra on his way to the sin-bin for a deliberate knock-on earlier in the move.
But Wales failed to make the extra man count and Parra, fresh out of the bin, kicked a 77th minute penalty which looked enough to sew the game up for France penalty with three minutes and when Freddie Michalak clipped over another penalty, Wales appeared dead and buried.
Shane Williams, however, had other ideas and he celebrated his 33rd birthday with his 50th international try – a superb individual effort, converted by Jones, which brought the crowd to its feet but it proved to be too little, too late for Wales.
ITALY 16-12 SCOTLAND
STADIO FLAMINIO – Saturday 27th February 2010
ITALIAN replacement Pablo Canavosio broke Scotland hearts and earned himself the freedom of Rome with a stunning second-half try which broke Scottish hearts and gave the Azzurri the upper hand in the battle to avoid the 2010 RBS 6 Nations Championship wooden spoon.
Canavosio scored the only try of the game 13 minutes before the end to settle a scrappy and cagey affair at the Stadio Flaminio, overturning a 12-9 lead which Scotland had earned the hard way with fly-half Dan Parks kicking three penalties and a drop-goal.
Italy started the brighter, dominating both possession and territory, and they opened the scoring in the 10th minute when Mirco Bergamasco punished Scotland prop Euan Murray’s infringement at a scrum.
Four minutes later, Bergamasco made it 6-0 when Scottish open-side John Barclay was pinged for joining a ruck from the side for coming in the side of a ruck but Parks struck the first blow for the Scots in the 20th minute to make it 6-3 and eight minutes before the break he levelled it up at 6-6.
The Azzurri began the second half in perfect fashion with Bergamasco notching his third successive penalty after lock Alastair Kellock was caught using his hands in the ruck.
And when the Scots thought they had hit back with a try from Allan Jacobsen in the 44th minute, referee Dave Pearson went to the TMO, who ruled the big prop had been held up over the line by the Italian defence.
Parks had the Scots back on terms five minutes later when he dropped a goal from close-range and in the 64th minute Parks kicked his third successful penalty to give Scotland the lead for the first time in the match.
But Italy responded in fine style just three minutes later when centre Gonzalo Canale conjured up a break and his skilful offload put Canavosio clear to touch down under the posts, making the conversion simple for Bergamasco.
ENGLAND 16-20 IRELAND
TWICKENHAM – Saturday 27th February 2010
TOMMY BOWE grabbed a try double to help Ireland chalk up a hard-fought 20-16 RBS 6 Nations victory at Twickenham, which killed off England’s Grand Slam hopes.
Ireland made most of the running in the first half and Bowe’s fourth-minute try helped give them an 8-6 halftime advantage and they extended their lead when Keith Earls grabbed a score in the corner but Dan Cole’s converted try and a Jonny Wilkinson drop goal gave England a 16-13 lead.
But Bowe struck nine minutes from time in a well-worked set-piece move to give Ireland the perfect boost after their defeat by France in Paris.
Under-pressure Jonny Wilkinson, so often England’s saviour, was stripped of possession in the fourth minute and when the ball went wide, Leinster fly-half Jonathan Sexton, who got the starting nod ahead of Ronan O’Gara, threaded a grubber kick through the home defence and Bowe outpaced Lewis Moody to give Ireland a 5-0 lead.
Wilkinson cut that to 5-3 with a 17th minute penalty but Sexton restored Ireland’s five-point advantage on the half-hour after Dylan Hartley was penalised for playing the ball on the floor before Wilkinson replied to make it 8-6 to the visitors three minutes before half-time.
After the break, a dour contest sparked into life when Sexton found touch with a searching penalty kick and from the resulting line-out the young Irish fly-half sent Earls over in the corner for Ireland’s second try of the match.
England, though, had enjoyed the edge up front all game and they used it to drive the Irish pack backwards before the ball was spread wide and after Mathew Tait’s burst was halted on the line, prop Cole was able to get the ball down over the Irish line.
Wilkinson’s conversion levelled it up and Ireland looked to have problems when skipper Brian O’Driscoll was stretchered off with a head injury.
Lock Paul O’Connell then gave away a penalty which Wilkinson missed but he atoned for his mistake with a drop-goal to give England the lead for the first time in the contest, sending the home contingent in the Twickenham crowd into raptures.
But the celebrations did not last long as Ireland produced quick line-out ball and scrum-half Tomas O’Leary picked out the fed the speeding Bowe, who crashed past Wilkinson and then stepped between Ugo Monye and James Haskell to touch down. O'Gara simply could not miss with the conversion in front of the posts and Ireland had a four-point advantage, which they were able to hang on to until the final whistle.
P: Wilkinson 2
WALES 31-24 SCOTLAND
MILLENNIUM STADIUM – Saturday 13th February 2010
SHANE Williams' dramatic last-gasp try secured a famous 31-24 victory for Wales over Scotland in Cardiff after the Scots looked to have set up their first victory in the Welsh capital for eight years when they took a 21-9 lead early in the second half.
Tries from Leigh Halfpenny and Lee Byrne got the hosts right back in it and when Scotland were reduced to 13 men late on, Stephen Jones’ penalty on the stroke of full-time levelled the scores.
But there was still time for Wales to make the most of their two-man advantage and Williams went over under the posts to break Scottish hearts.
Scotland took a shock lead after just eight minutes when flanker John Barclay barged his way through Gareth Cooper and James Hook’s weak tackles en-route to the line.
Jones slotted a penalty only for fly-half Dan Parks to immediately restore Scotland’s advantage with a well-struck drop goal.
Parks then turned provider for Scotland’s second try on 20 minutes, threading a perfectly-weighted grubber kick through for Max Evans to touch down an unconverted try which was endorsed by the TMO.
Jones chipped away at Scotland’s lead with a penalty after hooker Ross Ford was caught offside only for Parks to respond in kind with an immaculate strike after Wales collapsed a scrum to make it 18-6.
Scotland then suffered a double blow when Paterson, who had been carrying an injury since the opening minutes of his 100th cap, went off on the half-hour mark with Thom Evans going off with a serious looking neck injury soon after.
Andy Robinson threw on Max Evans and scrum-half Mike Blair but before the half was out Stephen Jones was on-target with a penalty to make the half-time score 18-9.
Parks kicked Scotland further ahead early in the second half after Byrne was penalised for holding on but Robinson would have been ruing his team’s inability to make the most of a two-on-one opportunity spurned by a combination of Sean Lamont and Barclay.
Shane Williams demonstrated how to finish those opportunities on 56 minutes as he delayed his pass perfectly to send Byrne over in the corner, but another Parks drop goal saw the visitors stay ten points ahead.
Wales were given a massive boost when replacement Scott Lawson was needlessly yellow-carded and massive pressure from Wales eventually allowed Halfpenny the space to burn his way down the touchline and for a try under the posts.
Jones brought Wales level with a penalty after Phil Godman was sent off for taking Roberts out and from re-start Wales marched downfield to set up William’s match-clinching touchdown.
T: Byrne, Halfpenny, Williams
C: Jones 2
P: Jones 4
FRANCE 33-10 IRELAND
STADE DE FRANCE – Saturday 13th February 2010
FRANCE underlined their RBS 6 Nations Grand Slam ambitions in Paris, running in three tries – two of them in three first-half minutes from hooker William Servat and centre Yannick Jauzion - on their way to a comprehensive 33-10 win over reigning champions Ireland.
Full-back Clement Poitrenaud crossed after the break and despite David Wallace hitting back for the visitors, Ireland’s decade of misery in the French capital continued.
Declan Kidney’s side made a bright start to the game enjoying some early possession but when prop Cian Healey was sent to the bin for an early tackle, Les Bleus scrum-half Morgan Parra adding further punishment with a well-struck penalty.
And France took advantage of their numerical superiority at a series of close-range scrums before Imanol Harinordoquy picked and drove and released Servat to touch down next to the posts with Parra converting.
Fly-half Ronan O’Gara immediately reduced the deficit with a penalty but on 32 minutes France got their second try when Mathieu Bastareaud and Parra combined to put Jauzion over with Parra’s conversion giving the hosts a commanding 17-3 half-time lead.
France deservedly got a third try on the hour mark when Bastareaud – France’s two-try hero in their victory over Scotland in Edinburgh – produced a break and an offload to set up Poitrenaud to touch down.
Ireland were able to force a consolation try when Brian O’Driscoll’s break paved the wave for Wallace to barge his way over and O’Gara converted to make it 10-27 but any hopes of a comeback were soon snuffed out.
Parra’s penalty on 70 minutes took France past the 30-point barrier and the party pieces started coming out as replacement Frederic Michalak struck a drop goal to the delight of the Stade de France crowd, ending Ireland’s 15-month unbeaten run.
T: Servat, Jauzion, Poitrenaud
C: Parra 3
P: Parra 2
DG: Parra, Michalak
ITALY 12-17 ENGLAND
STADIO FLAMINIO – Sunday 14th February 2010
ENGLAND maintained their 100% start to the 2010 RBS 6 Nations Championship with a 17-12 victory over Italy in Rome, but it was not a performance that will have alarmed any of their rivals after Martin Johnson’s side struggled to find any rhythm in a first half that finished 6-6 before Mathew Tait’s well-worked score took them ahead.
While they scored 17 unanswered points when Wales were reduced to 14 men last week, England failed to take advantage of Martin Castrogiovanni’s second-half trip to the sin bin and they ended up struggling to hold on against a fired-up Italy side which finished the stronger of the teams.
Indeed, two Mirco Bergamasco penalties brought the Azzurri within two points of England in the closing stages.
The home side, prompted by fly-half Craig Gower, made a bright start but Jonny Wilkinson drew first blood with a tenth-minute penalty, which was immediately cancelled out by Bergamasco after Nick Easter failed to release in a tackle.
Although both sides were relying on the boot, England’s back three of Delon Armitage, Mark Cueto and Ugo Monye fashioned a rare breakaway that was only stopped by the intervention of Gonzalo Garcia.
And Wilkinson missed two first-half penalties, the second easily within his range, while Bergamasco was also off-target with an angled effort before he gave the home side a 6-3 lead which Wilkinson cancelled out just before interval to send the teams at the break in all-square.
There was an instant opportunity for the Azzurri to regain their lead just after the break when Flutey was penalised for a high tackle, but Gower was just short with a long-range penalty.
Then, on 46 minutes, England finally put together a good attacking move sparked by Ugo Monye and Easter and Tait applied the unconverted finish in the left corner.
When Castrogiovanni was binned for going off his feet, Wilkinson kicked England into a 14-6 lead and Italy looked there for the taking, but Easter strayed offside and Bergamasco punished him and pulled the score back to 9-14.
And with eight minutes to go, Bergamasco slotted his fourth penalty of the afternoon to bring the hosts to within two points and the crowd to its feet.
But hopes of a famous Azzurri victory evaporated with a late Wilkinson drop-goal, which sends England into their home game against Ireland still in the championship and Grand Slam running.
P: Bergamasco 4
IRELAND 29-11 ITALY
CROKE PARK – Saturday 6th February 2010
RONAN O'Gara turned in a perfect kicking display with 16 points as Ireland brushed aside Italy 29-11 in the opening fixture of the RBS 6 Nations at Croke Park but it was a far from vintage performance from the reigning Grand Slam champions.
Tries from number eight Jamie Heaslip and scrum-half Tomas O’Leary in the first half helped put Ireland in the driving seat but Declan Kidney will be worried both by his team’s lack of a cutting edge and by the manner in which Munster’s O’Gara limped off in the second half.
After an Italian offence at the scrum, O’Gara made no mistake with a tenth-minute penalty to pass the 500-point barrier in the Championship.
Worse was to follow for the visitors as O’Gara demonstrated his gifts with the ball in hand whipping a perfect flat pass for Andrew Trimble to run onto. The Ulster wing broke down the line and the ball was superbly worked wide for Heaslip to run over with O’Gara adding the extras.
The Italian scrum exacted some revenge in the 26th minute by forcing Ireland into conceding a penalty and debutant Craig Gower stepped up to land a huge 45m penalty, but no sooner had they got on the board than lock Carlo Del Fava was pinged for holding on and O’Gara restored Ireland’s ten-point lead.
Things went from bad to worse on 33 minutes when centre Gonzalo Garcia was sin-binned for a spear tackle on Brian O’Driscoll and Ireland took full advantage of the extra man.
Lock Cullen, making his first Six Nations start in seven years, stole Azzurri line-out ball and O’Leary dived over with O’Gara’s conversion giving Ireland a commanding 23-3 lead.
But Ireland’s first half was blotted when Rob Kearney gathered a difficult bouncing ball and fired his clearance straight at Kaine Robertson, who dived over with Mirco Bergamasco missing the conversion.
Bergamasco bisected the Irish posts with a penalty just after half-time but Ireland responded immediate through O’Gara to make it 26-11 and with O’Gara off, Paddy Wallace landed the 66th minute penalty which wrapped up an Irish win.
T: Heaslip, O’Leary
C: O’Gara 2
P: O’Gara 4, Wallace
ENGLAND 30-17 WALES
TWICKENHAM – Saturday 6th February 2010
JAMES Haskell grabbed a try in each half as England held off another famous Welsh RBS 6 Nations fight-back at Twickenham to end a four-ye4ar losing streak against Warren Gatland’s men, turning the screw when lock Alun-Wyn Jones was sent to the sin bin to rack up 17 points and a 20-3 lead.
Two years ago, Wales overturned a 13-point deficit to earn their first win at Twickenham in 20 years and they threatened to do the same when tries from Adam Jones and James Hook made it 20-1 but Haskell’s 76th minute second try saw England home after full-back Delon Armitage intercepted a desperate Wales attack.
Hook missed with a long-range penalty on six minutes before Jonny Wilkinson dissected the posts with a kick of his own after Wales were caught offside, but Stephen Jones cancelled that out in the 19th minute when Toby Flood, a late England inclusion in place of Riki Flutey, was penalised for holding on.
With both teams struggling to generate any sort of momentum England were given a gift by Wales when lock Jones deliberately tripped Dylan Hartley on the run. Referee Alain Rolland sent Jones to the bin and Wilkinson knocked over the resulting penalty.
After that, England dominated the end of the half with the extra man and after being held up twice on the Welsh line Haskell finally found a gap in the desperate Welsh defence and Wilkinson converted to give England a 13-3 half-time lead.
And just seconds before Jones was due out of the bin early in the second half, England struck again when skipper Steve Borthwick won a turnover, the ball was carried upfield by Ugo Monye and Nick Easter before Danny Care darted through a gap to touch down with Wilkinson again adding added the extras.
Wales’ response was immediate on 48 minutes with captain Ryan Jones opted to take a scrum rather than a kick in front of the posts and his decision paid dividends when prop Adam Jones barreled over for a try converted by Stephen Jones.
And just after Welsh wing Tom James failed to gather an offload with the try-line at his mercy, Hook handed off England loose-head Tim Payne for a brilliant individual try.
But when Armitage picked off Stephen Jones’ pass, Mathew Tait broke downfield and Haskell was there to apply the coup de grace with Wilkinson adding a conversion and a late penalty to make the game safe for England.
T: Haskell 2, Care
C: Wilkinson 2
P: Wilkinson 4
SCOTLAND 9-19 FRANCE
MURRAYFIELD – Sunday 7th February 2010
MATHIEU Bastareaud scored two-first half tries to help France lay down an impressive statement of intent in a comfortable 18-9 victory over Scotland at Murrayfield, scoring in the 14th and 33rd minutes, while scrum-half Morgan Parra added eight points with the boot.
France’s back play was at times excellent and they dominated Scotland in the scrum with Andy Robinson’s men, whose points all came from the boot of full-back Chris Paterson, doing well to keep the score down.
Scotland led 3-0 early on after Imanol Harinordoquy was penalised for hands in the ruck but only the combination of a tap tackle by back-rower Kelly Brown and terrific work by winger Thom Evans stopped Aurelien Rougerie’s replacement Vincent Clerc grabbing Les Bleus’ opening try.
The reprieve was temporary and after putting on the squeeze at a series of scrums, France moved the ball wide and fly-half Francois Trinh-Duc put Bastareaud over for his first try for France with Parra missing the conversion.
Scotland almost responded when number eight Johnnie Beattie drove towards the French line and just failed to find captain Chris Cusiter and another last-ditch tackle from Sean Lamont, stopped Trinh-Duc from capitalising on a charge-down at the other end.
Then, after Paterson and Parra exchanged a penalty apiece, Bastareaud got his second try on 33 minutes, running on to a sweet pass from Harinordoquy to shrug off Brown’s tackle on his way into the corner.
Parra slotted the conversion to send France in with a comfortable lead at the interval and things go no better for the Scots after the break, when Phil Godman’s restart when straight out of play and Parra added a penalty for an 18-6 French lead.
Paterson responded on 52 minutes and nearly the rest of the match was played out in Scotland’s half, where committed defence from the home side and some poor decision-making from the visitors prevented France pulling further clear.
P: Paterson 3
T: Bastareaud 2
P: Parra 2