Ireland Sneak A Win

Saturday, February 7th, 2009 at 20:57pm

Six Nations Game 2Ireland vs France (30-21)

After the disappointing performances of the first game, the clash at Croke Park was somewhat more entertaining. It was a much closer game, and showed plenty of skill from both teams.

Imanol HarinordiquyAfter an early Irish penalty, the French struck with a try from old war-horse Imanol Harinordiquy [left]. He’s been in and out of the team for years, but fully justified his inclusion today with some sublime play at the set piece, at the breakdown and in the loose.

The Irish pulled back to within a point after a Ronan O’Gara penatly. Then a try by Jamie Heaslip pulled them further ahead. The French landed a drop goal just before half time to bring the score to 13-10.

Brian O'DriscollThe second half was bearly 3 minutes old when Ireland’s talisman Captain Brian O’Driscoll [right] showed why he’s still in the team. He takes a quick ball off the top of a lineout and evades his man for a wonderfully engineered try. Vintage O’Driscoll, for sure.

France hit back on 50 minutes when Lionel Beauxis kicks to his wing and Maxime Medard crosses to bring the scoreline to 20-15. Beauxis adds three points with another drop goal to bring the French to within two points, 20-18

Gordon D'ArcyThe Irish turned the screw in the 66th minute when Gordon D’Arcy crossed just by the posts after a lovely sideways jink to evade the French fingertips. O’Gara’s conversion put the men in green further ahead.

A penalty apiece before the end of the game brought the final score to 30-21. It was a highly entertaining game, and the Irish will be pleased at how confident and fit the team looked. They will head to Rome with their tails up. Meanwhile, the French will need to regroup before they go back home to Paris to face Scotland next weekend.

England Fail To Shine

Saturday, February 7th, 2009 at 19:16pm

Six Nations Game 1England vs Italy (36-11)

Andy Goode

The Six Nations has rolled around again, and every England fan was hoping for an improvement over their lacklustre Autumn performances. When Andy Goode [left] scored a try within 95 seconds of kickoff, we were thinking it might come true. But the euphoria was short lived.

To be honest, most people were more interested in the shocking performance of the hapless Mauro Bergamasco, a Flanker playing Scrum Half. Itatian coach Nick Mallett might have had his hands forced by injury nightmares, but within the first few minutes, it was obvious to everyone that he was far from competant at No. 9.

Harry EllisAnother Bergamasco error saw him sucked into a ruck, missing the ball as it popped up for James Haskell to flick a pass towards Harry Ellis [right], who took full advantage and sprinted 20m to cross the line with a slide, evading Italian defenders.

Riki FluteyMinutes later the Italian’s day went from bad to nightmare when he botched a pass to Gonzalo Garcia, enabling Andy Goode to gather, kick ahead and the move was finished off by Riki Flutey [left].

That left England going in at the break 22-6 up.

Thankfully, Mallett put us all out of our misery an brought on his 5th choice Scrum Half  Giulio Toniolatt for his second cap in the second half. He was certainly an improvement!

Mark Cueto

There were three more tries in the second period – a second for Man-Of-The-Match Ellis, a consolation try for Miro Bergamasco (at least one brother did something right), and a welcome return to the scoreboard (and team) for Winger Mark Cueto [right].

The final result was a rather flattering 36-11. There will be plenty for Martin Johnson to work on during the coming seven days. I can hardly see the Welsh quaking in their boots for next week’s clash at the Millennium Stadium. But one or two England fans might be.