The end of the Guinness Six Nations tournament, gosh that went quick. Hawkeye Sidekick reflects on the upcoming fixtures on tap for the weekend in Rome and Twickenham where England’s championship destiny will be laid out before them before kickoff.
Battle for the wooden spoon
Italy and France kickoff the action on Saturday with the early test match fixture. A fixture which to be honest is tough to call. What is the mindset of the French side after a shambolic road trip loss to Ireland last weekend? No distinct game plan on show and Brunel has shuffled the team again for a response. Guirado continues in the captaincy role but for how long?
Italy name personnel changes as well, excited to see how Zanon performs at the weekend; a genuine center who has the skill set to impress at world level. Conor O’Shea also gives Polledri and Sisi test match minutes to create a pack platform. The smart money still is for France to win this fixture as despite Italy’s improvements, their attacking field display and defensive back three performance is still glaring. France to win in an open contest.
England primed for another quality cameo
The Scottish back line selection just shows the injury list currently with the side. Maitland is summoned back quickly from injury to slot into the full back berth with McGuigan and Graham forming an inexperienced back three. It is a daunting task for Scotland but the pack fronted by Edinburgh Rugby have the cohesion but whether they have the raw horsepower to compete with an abrasive English pack is a different story.
England oozed physicality and precision in their emphatic victory over Italy last weekend. The squad depth chart gets run yet again with Slade coming back into the starting lineup. Cokanasiga is omitted much to the relief of Scotland. A game where Finn Russell’s game management will be key; kicking game to setup territorial platform will be required but the pack and back line injuries look decisive here.
England will be primed to avenge their loss to Scotland last season and expect Eddie Jones’ side to inflict more misery to Scotland in this test match. Manu Tuilagi looks primed for another keynote performance with ball in hand. England with a bonus point try but whether it will matter given the result at the Principality Stadium remains to be seen.