Menu allblacks.com

News

EXCLUSIVE COLUMN

Campbell Burnes

Campbell Burnes has written on rugby since 2000 for a wide variety of publications, both in print and online, whilst also contributing to television and radio shows. His major gigs have seen him at Rugby News magazine (2005-12), in which he covered 50 Test matches, and the New Zealand Herald (2014-17). Burnes is one of the few in rugby media to have played international rugby, having appeared for Manu Samoa in 1995 and 2000 (seven games) as a No 10.

Read more exclusive columns

Six Nations Wrap: Round 2

Getty Images

Campbell Burnes     12 Feb 2018     Getty Images

Neither side played anywhere near as well as they did in round one, and so staunch, bruising defence was the most prominent feature of this Twickenham Test.

England was, on balance, the better side, tactically superior and having started well via two Jonny May tries. The final score read 12-6, but that did not mean Wales could not have won the game. Indeed, two key moments came under the microscope in the post-mortems.

QUICK TAP: INVESTEC SUPER RUGBY SEASON LAUNCHES IN STYLE

Wales fullback Gareth Anscombe, who acquitted himself well, looked to have scored in the 23rd minute when he got his hand on the ball in the in-goal ahead of England wing Anthony Watson. However, TMO Glenn Newman of New Zealand mystifyingly ruled that Watson had grounded the ball first. Warren Gatland was not happy after the game and said as much, while Eddie Jones was strangely reticent to make comment.

In the second spell, Wales centre Scott Williams dived a touch too early for a try, allowing England replacement loose forward Sam Underhill to make a crucial tackle.

Jones admitted England was not at its best, but it was enough to go 25 from 26 on his watch.

Wales just could not do a decent kicking job as compared to the George Ford-Owen Farrell 10-12 combination. The kick-pass from Farrell yielded the opening try to May, the man who scorched in for a solo try against the 2012 All Blacks at Twickenham.

Wales wing George North should have started, as he was a threat off the pine, while Anscombe should have taken the goalkicks from the get-go, as Rhys Patchell struggled off the tee.
Ireland predictably hammered Italy 56-19, the Azzurri still travelling poorly. Working off the seasoned Johnny Sexton-Conor Murray halves pairing, the Irish backs, so stilted in Paris, ran amok, Jacob Stockdale and Robbie Henshaw the chief beneficiaries. But they may have paid a heavy price with injuries to prop Tadgh Furlong and Henshaw.

Italy actually scored some nice tries, but when even the talismanic Sergio Parisse is making basic errors, it was always going to be an uphill battle.

Flawless goalkicking from all the halfbacks characterised Scotland’s hard-earned 32-26 victory over France at Murrayfield. Greig Laidlaw was the man for Scotland as the home side clawed back the points in the second spell.

This was a huge turnaround after the disappointment of Cardiff, and the Scottish pack, to a man, brought the attitude and toughness. France simply did not get sufficient ball to wing Teddy Thomas, who ran in two lovely solo tries, but was thereafter catching cold on the flanks.

The French discipline faltered in the second spell, allowing Laidlaw to work in multiples of three. France is, however, not that far off the pace under new coach Jacques Brunel. But Les Bleus have precious little time – three games – to work themselves up the table and nut out a coherent strategy before they hit New Zealand shores.

The third round of the Six Nations plays out on February 24-25 (NZT).

Form XV:

15 Mike Brown (England)
14 Teddy Thomas (France)
13 Huw Jones (Scotland)
12 Owen Farrell (England)
11 Jonny May (England)
10 Johnny Sexton (Ireland)
9 Conor Murray (Ireland)
8 Jack Conan (Ireland)
7 Yacouba Camara (France)
6 Courtney Lawes (England)
5 Devin Toner (Ireland)
4 Joe Launchbury (England)
3 Simon Berghan (Scotland)
2 Guilhem Ghirado (France)
1 Rob Evans (Wales)