Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 December 2014

Tyrone Howe: Final Six Nations games offer up plenty of intrigue

Every Six Nations match this weekend has a juicy sub-plot with bragging rights and maybe even coaching jobs at stake.

Scotland have been so unlucky not to record some sort of victory along the way.

I just wonder what sort of difference it might have made to their whole campaign had they overcome England in the opening fixture at Murrayfield?

It galvanised the visitors while Scotland are struggling for any sort of sustained effort. Confidence must be rock bottom while Italy will always have targeted this game.

A home victory is on the cards.

I expected the match in Cardiff to be the Championship decider, but I believed that France would be seeking the Grand Slam crown.

Instead they are as unpredictable as ever.

Their half-back selection is all over the place, and the only thing that resembles consistency is the poor play of Lionel Beauxis.

Wales may not have been brilliant all along, but they have lifted the quality of their play when it has mattered.

With a Grand Slam at stake it is difficult to envisage a shock result, but knowing the French, it could be a lot closer than people think.

Just remember last year’s RWC Final.

Finally, Ireland against England at Twickenham is the tie of the round this weekend. Two teams who have got better and better throughout the tournament and, at times, displayed some classy rugby and finishing power.

Home advantage will count for a lot at Twickenham, and England are playing for their coach’s future.

It will be tight, but despite Ben Morgan’s showing and Tom Croft’s try in Paris, Ireland have the edge in the back row both in tackling and ball-carrying power.

If Ireland can restrict Manu Tuilagi’s influence and impact on the game, then experience and ability might just make it a green day.

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