With France the only unbeaten side left in the competition, here’s a look at three takeaways following the second round of action in the 2022 Six Nations championship.
No place like home
Until England’s defeat of Italy – the Azzurri’s record-extending 34th successive Six Nations loss – every match in this season’s Championship had been won by the home team.
Since Italy became the ‘sixth’ nation 22 years ago, 61% of matches have been won by the home side, a figure that would be even higher but for the number of away victories in Rome.
And that means for all the brilliance France have shown in their opening two wins in Paris, they will still have plenty do in two weeks’ time when they continue their campaign away to Scotland at Edinburgh’s Murrayfield, a ground where Les Bleus last won a Six Nations match in 2014.
Dan’s the man for Wales
For a player who on Saturday made his 100th Test appearance, Dan Biggar has not always been lauded in Wales. This may be because Wales have a proud tradition of attacking, running flyhalves such as Cliff Morgan, Barry John, Phil Bennett and Jonathan Davies, while Biggar is regarded as more of a kicking No 10.
But modern-day defences mean space is at a premium and it was Wales captain Biggar’s control that was central to the win over Scotland, with the Northampton No 10 punishing the visitors’ indiscipline courtesy of four penalties before landing the match-clinching drop goal 10 minutes from time at the Principality Stadium.
By contrast, Scotland counterpart Finn Russell, a more obviously eye-catching flyhalf, had a tough day as the Bravehearts’ 20-year wait for a win in Cardiff continued. For all there were flashes of brilliance, Russell also made several errors before he was sent to the sin bin for a deliberate knock-on shortly before Biggar’s decisive drop-goal.
Ireland’s Carbery comes of age
Such has been Jonathan Sexton’s influence in a golden era for Ireland, their supporters have often appeared to be in a state of collective mourning when the flyhalf has been injured.
But with the talismanic captain ruled out of the France game with a hamstring problem, Joey Carbery produced an assured display in Ireland’s No 10 shirt at the Stade de France. This follows the 26-year-old having kicked three penalties when replacing Sexton for the last 15 minutes of a 29-20 win at home to New Zealand in November.
Ireland know now, if they didn’t before, there is life after Sexton – an encouraging sign ahead of next year’s World Cup.
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