Well, the only thing about Saturday’s games that was surprising was that it took so much effort for Wales to beat Italy.
Obviously Wales’ 24-3 victory keeps them at the top of the table on 8 points and on course for the Grand Slam, and defeat for Italy keeps them firmly at the bottom where they’re joined by the still winless Scots – who couldn’t help but succumb to Ireland 32-14 in Dublin. The Wooden Spoon decider is next weekend – for shame.
The only truly competitive match this weekend did not disappoint, as England narrowly defeated the French 22-24 in Paris, in a thrilling game with an arsehole tightening (or nerve-shredding, as the classy people say) finale.
England started brilliantly, with tries from Manu Tuilagi and Ben Foden helping to build a 14-3 lead, before the French eventually managed to claw it back to within 2 points, at 15-17. A superb Tom Croft try, and another Owen Farrell conversion, made it 15-24 and looked like giving England the victory; but, annoyingly, the French seemed to kind of want to win too, and thanks to a Wesley Fofana try and Morgan Parra conversion they again came within 2 points, at 22-24.
It set up a finale that saw France continue to press until, right at the death, getting the ball to Francois Trinh-Duc for a drop-goal attempt that fell beneath the crossbar, and gave England the win.
Victory leaves England 2 points behind Wales with a slim chance of winning the championship, but it would take a monumental Welsh collapse against the French and an astronomical English victory against the Irish next weekend – and, you know, that’s just not going to happen.
By Peter Simpson