Finally—finally!—got rid of that nasty wee cough and it’s back to the best tournament in the world (at least till World Rugby manage to bugger it up) Six Nations, Round 4. Dova will talk you through what’s going to happen.
2019 Six Nations Preview Round 4
Round 4 of the 6N represents the start of the ‘championship’ rounds and is set to be massive in terms of deciding the final destination of the coveted trophy. By the end of proceedings this coming weekend we could be in a position where only one or two teams are left with a realistic chance or, potentially, one where four (or at a push five) are still in with a theoretical chance. So all to play for…
Six Nations 2019
Sat 14:15 Scotland – Wales
TV: BBC 1 (UK), S4C (UK), FR2 (FRA), Virgin 1 (IRE), NBC (USA)
Venue: Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh
Referee: Pascal Gauzère (FRA)
Probably the biggest and most interesting game of the round. Wales are flying high and the only team left with a chance of a slam. That said, the (frankly ridiculous and should never have been introduced) bonus point system means they can still be caught quite easily by two other teams, if Wales slip up just once. Success has, so far, been founded upon Wales’ typically miserly defence and an ability to out-last opponents with, what appears to be, a fitness advantage over most other teams they play. They are solid to excellent everywhere, with the exception perhaps of their line out which can wobble on occasions. Thus far that’s been enough to see off all comers.
For Scotland then, who have suffered awfully with injuries and are in danger of their campaign fizzling out to a disappointing end, this looks a big challenge. They will be encouraged though by the return of Finn Russell—whom they will need if they are to unlock the Welsh defence—and the chance of a possible pairing at wing forward of the excellent returning Hamish Watson and impressive young tyke Jamie Ritchie. The loss of the brilliant Hogg has been mostly mitigated by the impressive Blair Kinghorn, whom your correspondent is tipping to get on the score sheet. They will be well advised to target the welsh lineout by ensuring that when they kick they find touch, and encourage their backline to try things often and test the Welsh defence. If they are to do it they’ll need a fast start and a decent lead and then hang on for the last 20. Sadly for them, the Wales defence might just be too strong.
Prediction: Wales by 8 in a low scoring affair..
Sat 16:45 England v Italy
TV: ITV 1 (UK), FR2 (FRA), Virgin 1 (IRE), NBC (USA)
Venue: Twickenham Stadium, London
Referee: Nic Berry (AUS)
No point beating around the bush here. England should win handily, and they need to if they are to stay in the race for the title (though they still need others to do them favours elsewhere). Italy pushed a stuttering Ireland close (well as close as a BP defeat can be) but they are away from home this week and England will be looking to prove a point. Eddie will probably rotate a few players and so the exciting ‘big’ Joe Cokansiga should have a chance to stretch his legs with his first decent stint in the 6N. Billy will likely be rested or at least used sparingly and some of the tight five finishers given a chance to start. This rotation in the past has sometimes led to stuttering performances, so don’t expect a cricket score, but Eddie will likely retain the big guns for the bench at least to ensure there’s no embarrassing slip ups in the final result.
Prediction: England by 21.
Sun 14:15 Ireland – France
TV: ITV 1 (UK), FR2 (FRA), Virgin 1 (IRE), NBC (USA)
Venue: Aviva Stadium, Dublin
Referee: Ben O’Keeffe (NZ)
This is the game that decides whether or not Ireland go into the final weekend with a chance of retaining their title and realistically they need to win big with a bonus point. Their stuttering form during this 6N is hard to explain, given their dominance last year and a hugely successful Autumn. They have had injuries but this has been a minor issue compared to the carnage suffered by others. France have been mostly poor with the odd flash of broken play brilliance, but last week against Scotland at last showed some signs of better control from the half backs. No team turns things around quite that quickly though and the ‘style’ of this French team is tailor-made for Ireland. The provinces have been successful against all these players all season and Ireland, even at 80% (<——made up stat alert) are still capable of getting on a roll at home in a way that the opposition can’t counter.
Expect Ireland to squeeze the life out of the French campaign and propel themselves into contention for the final weekend.
Prediction: Ireland by 18.
Thanks to Dova for the perceptive percipience of his predictions. Though TBH, it’s a little worrying that he’s going for an England win.
Weekend TV Rugby Fix
Channels in bold are free to air.
Women's Six Nations 2019
Friday 8th March
06:35 Hurricanes v Highlanders, SR (Sky Sports Action)
08:45 Rebels v Brumbies, SR (Sky Sports Action)
19:15 Ireland 31 v 29 France, 6N U20
19:35 Scotland 15 v 17 Wales, 6N WOM
19:45 Bath v Saracens, GPR (BT Sport 3)
19:45 England 35 v 10 Italy, 6N U20
Saturday 9th March
04:15 Crusaders v Chiefs, SR (Sky Sports Action)
06:35 Blues v Sunwolves, SR (Sky Sports Action/Main Event)
08:45 Waratahs v Reds, SR (Sky Sports Action)
12:05 England v Italy, 6N WOM (Sky Sports Action/Mix)
13:05 Lions v Los Jaguares, SR (Sky Sports Arena)
14:15 Scotland v Wales, 6N MEN (BBC 1, S4C, FR2, Virgin 1, NBC)
15:15 Bulls v Sharks, SR (Sky Sports Main Event/Mix)
16:15 England v Italy, 6N MEN (ITV 1, FR2, Virgin 1, NBC)
17:00 IRB 7s Vancouver (Sky Sports Mix)
U20s Six Nations 2019
Sunday 10th March
13:00 Harlequins v Gloucester, GPR (BT Sport 3)
15:00 Ireland v France, 6N MEN (ITV 1, FR2, Virgin 1, NBC)
16:20 IRB 7s Vancouver (Sky Sports Action/Mix)
19:00 Ireland v France, 6N WOM (RTÉ 2)
– Header: (Amended slightly by us…) Map of Six Nations Championship Rugby: By https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Historicair – Travail personnel à partir de https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Tournoi.svg, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=67874760
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