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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.

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Six Nations Wrap: Round 4

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Campbell Burnes     12 Mar 2018     Getty Images

Scotland might have expected to come to Dublin with chests out and confidence high, but the manner in which it succumbed 28-8 says more about a high quality Ireland team rather than tits shortcomings, now exposed in brutal fashion by both Wales and Joe Schmidt’s men.

Garry Ringrose slotted into the Ireland midfield outside Bundee Aki and proceeded to play like Brian O’Driscoll, nullifying the attacking threat of Huw Jones. But the pack did the job and the classy halves pairing of Conor Murray and Johnny Sexton dictated proceedings, as they have done for most of the tournament. Jacob Stockdale looks like the next Shane Horgan or Simon Geoghegan with his poaching and potency, adding yet another intercept try.
It all means that Ireland has now gone five years unbeaten at the Aviva in the Six Nations, and has a shot at a third Grand Slam, after the 1948 and 2009 sides. The Crusaders’ assistant coach Ronan O’Gara will be watching the St Patrick’s Day Twickenham clash with England intently, as his nerveless late drop goal against Wales helped Ireland to the 2009 Grand Slam.

Scotland played with tempo but not the requisite accuracy and it must he frustrating for coach Gregor Townsend, who has the makings of a decent team, but is now facing the minor placings again. 

Scotland is one of four teams with a 2-2 record, but it is Wales who might be in the box seat for second position when it faces France this weekend.
Warren Gatland rang several changes to his starting XV but they were still too good for hapless Italy, winning 38-14 in Cardiff. Hadleigh Parkes was in man of the match form at No 12, while Gareth Anscombe also played well one-in.
Italy again showed signs of more breadth to its game, but do not have quite the talent, Sergio Parisse aside, to operate effectively under such ambition. George North made a pleasing comeback in the No 14 jersey and picked up a double.

Gatland will not be happy with two yellow cards, one of which was harsh, but he will be happy that his squad depth is growing.

So all it needed was for England to follow the script and bounce back with a bonus point win in Paris to set up the decider at Twickers on Saturday.

Instead, a staunch defensive display from France stymied England’s startling lack of intensity to the tune of 22-16. The breakdown continues to cause England headaches. It does not command the ball here and is heavily pinged. In an otherwise dreary encounter, the key moment was the penalty try awarded to France for Anthony Watson tackling Benjamin Fall high while he was in the act of scoring. From New Zealand TMO Ben Skeen’s recommendation, Watson was binned and a penalty try given. It was reminiscent of Lachie Boshier on Ryan Crotty in the first Kiwi round of Super Rugby. 

What more drama awaits the final Six Nations round this weekend as Ireland seek to make it a match to remember against the old foes?

Form XV:

15 Rob Kearney (Ireland)
14 George North (Wales)
13 Garry Ringrose (Ireland)
12 Hadleigh Parkes (Wales)
11 Jacob Stockdale (Ireland)
10 Johnny Sexton (Ireland)
9 Conor Murray (Ireland)
8 CJ Stander (Ireland)
7 James Davies (Wales)
6 Johnny Barclay (Scotland)
5 Sebastien Vahaamahina (France)
4 Cory Hill (Wales)
3 Tadgh Furlong (Ireland)
2 Guilhem Guirado (France)
1 Cian Healy (Ireland)