The 2016 Six Nations tournament moves one step nearer to a conclusion on Saturday March the 12th, with two key matches due to take place that afternoon. With Ireland facing Italy in a bottom of the table battle, and England and Wales engaging in a tussle for the title, there’s going to be plenty of action for rugby fans to enjoy.
Ireland V Italy – The Showdown between 2016’s Wooden Spoon Contenders
At 13.30, Ireland will take on Italy in Dublin’s Aviva Stadium, hoping to secure a win that will push the Azzurri closer to becoming the recipients’ of this year’s wooden spoon. The home team are firm favourites to pick up the points, forcing the Italians to continue to languish in last place, despite only being one place above them in the table.
Although they started off the tournament by only being narrowly defeated in their Round One tie with France, Italy suffered decisive losses in their subsequent matches against England and Scotland, meaning that they have yet to pick up a point.
Ireland, on the other hand, held Wales to a draw in the first round, before losing a tightly fought battle with France in Round Two and, although finally succumbing to defeat, putting England’s defence to the test in Round Three.
The news that scrum-half Conor Murray may be fit to play, despite suffering a head wound in the previous match, also means that Joe Schmidt’s squad and the Irish fans will be feeling confident that they’ll have something to cheer about when the final whistle blows.
England V Wales – A Title Clash with the Potential to Captivate the Crowd
With three wins from three matches, England sits proudly at the top of the Six Nations table, but it hasn’t all been a breeze for Eddie Jones’s boys so far. After their 21-10 victory over Ireland in the third round, the England coach admitted that they’d given their opponents too many opportunities and failed to make the most of the ones they’d had themselves.
While second half tries from Anthony Watson and Mike Brown, a conversion from Owen Farrell and a superb performance in defence by Billy Vunipola were enough to ensure that England got the result they were looking for in the end; handling errors and a lack of focus in the first half could have cost them dearly.
Wales will certainly be ready to take advantage of any similar mistakes made by England when they meet them in their fourth round tie at Twickenham (16.00 kick-off), a match that will effectively decide who takes the 2016 Six Nations title.
Lying in second place, with just a point between them and the championship leaders, Warren Gatland’s squad also remains unbeaten, following a first-round draw with Ireland, and wins against Scotland and France. The Welsh have been improving as this year’s tournament has progressed, and the thought of putting pay to the home team’s Grand Slam chances, and snatching the coveted trophy from beneath their noses, could motivate them into making this a match to remember.
Will you be watching either of these Six Nations matches? Who do you think is going to take the trophy home? Let us know what you think.