Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Rugby

5 things we have learned from this weekend's Six Nations Championship

England's quest for successive Grand Slams remains alive after Italy were dispatched 36-15 at Twickenham and round three also produced wins for Scotland and Ireland.

Here, Press Association Sport examines five things we have learned from the weekend.

ENGLAND STILL A WORK IN PROGRESS

For a six-try rout at Twickenham, England's 36-15 victory over Italy felt surprisingly hollow. Three late England touch downs from Jack Nowell, who crossed twice, and Ben Te'o gave the scoreline its lopsided appearance and the main talking point arising from the afternoon was the inability to adjust to Italy's refusal to create rucks. It took the RBS 6 Nations champions far too long to adapt and Eddie Jones will need to look at the leadership failings evident.

FARRELL IS ONLY HUMAN

Owen Farrell has been the heartbeat of England's 17-Test winning run, but the occasion of his 50th cap fell well short of expectations. Even the steely-nerved playmaker look rattled during a chaotic first half in which Italy's tactics caused confusion. He kicked one penalty dead, gave away a needless penalty and his accuracy from the tee was 50 per cent.

ITALY WILL NOT GO QUIETLY

Italy took a hammering in the opening two rounds of the Six Nations and were expected to lose by a landslide, but they sounded a note of defiance at the end of a week in which scrutiny of their place in the tournament reached a new level. It was a gutsy display and while some - Jones among them - consider their tactics at Twickenham to be against the spirit of rugby, under Conor O'Shea there is sure to be more drama ahead.

MURRAY AND SEXTON SHINE

Warren Gatland was at Murrayfield for Scotland's rout of Wales, but Ireland's win in Dublin will have provided the most pleasing performance of Saturday for the British and Irish Lions head coach. Jonathan Sexton marked his return after a month out with a calf injury by orchestrating France's demise, while his half-back partner Conor Murray was every bit as commanding. Gatland now has a strong idea of his half-backs for the opening Test against New Zealand.

MISFORTUNE MARS SCOTLAND'S RISE

The shoots of revival evident at Murrayfield when Ireland were toppled on the opening day of the Championship continued to blossom as Scotland claimed their first victory over Wales for 10 years. They have been shortened to third favourites to win the Six Nations as a result, but continue to be hamstrung by cruel luck on the injury front with flanker John Hardie the latest player to be ruled out of the remainder of the competition.

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph