Scotland maintained their unbeaten run against Italy for eight years,…
The stakes are high for the Six Nations contenders as they face crucial clashes in London and Edinburgh this weekend.
After a week off, the Championship continues with Ireland leading the pack on 15 points. Scotland, England, and France are all tied on 10 points and need to win to stay in the title race. They are second, third, and fourth respectively.
The bottom two teams, Italy and Wales will start Round Four in Rome on Saturday followed by a mouth-watering encounter at Twickenham between England and France. On Sunday, Ireland and Scotland will battle it out at Murrayfield for the top spot.
Ireland could clinch the title if they get a bonus-point victory and neither England nor France manages to do the same. So there is plenty of excitement ahead.
What Italy v Wales
Where Stadio Olimpico, Rome
When 14:15, Saturday 11th March
How to watch ITV1
The outcome is uncertain in Rome. Wales will be eager to make up for their stunning 22-21 defeat in Cardiff last year. Their current off-field issues inspired the Dragons to put up a fight against England last time.
Despite losing 20-10 and staying at the bottom of the table, it was their best display so far and a foundation they’ll hope to improve on.
Italy challenged Ireland, as they did France in the first round. Both of those spirited performances were at home and I think that will give them an edge over their opponents in a nail-biter.
What England v France
Where Twickenham Stadium, London
When 16:45, Saturday 11th March
How to watch ITV1
This year’s Le Crunch is not only a crucial game for both England and France but also a fascinating clash of styles. England have adopted a more conservative approach under Steve Borthwick, relying on their kicking game and physicality to beat Wales in Cardiff for the first time since 2017. Marcus Smith, their creative fly-half, has been dropped from the squad altogether.
France, on the other hand, have all the weapons to counter England’s strategy. They have a strong and deep front row, agile back rowers, smart playmakers at scrum-half, fly-half and full-back, and explosive finishers.
They also have history on their side: they have won all their last seven home games against England, who haven’t tasted victory at Twickenham since 20071. This could be the year that Les Bleus end their long wait for an away win over England234.
What Scotland v Ireland
Where BT Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh
When 15:00, Sunday 12th March
How to watch BBC 1
This year’s Championship has seen Scotland display their flair and talent, but they also proved their resilience in Paris last round. They faced a 12-0 deficit and a red card before France also lost a player, and then fell behind by 19 points. The game seemed over.
But the Scots did not give up and came back to within four points before a late Gael Fickou try ended their hopes. With both heart and skill, Scotland will pose a huge challenge for Ireland at Murrayfield, more than any other time in recent memory. France’s coach Fabien Galthie even said they were the best Scottish team ever after the match.
Ireland had to work hard against Italy but still scored four tries or more for the third game in a row. They will rely on their clinical execution against the emotion and creativity of their hosts. Scotland will not go down easily, but Ireland have the forwards to impose their game on Gregor Townshend’s side and leave with a tough win.