France have done it! Having last won the Six Nations back in 2010 with a Grand Slam win, the heavily favoured French side have lived up to their reputations with a 25-13 win over England in Paris to secure this year’s Championship and the Grand Slam with it.
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Italian Elation and Wales’ Worries
Kickin’ off Super Saturday was a bottom-of-the-table contest between 5th place Wales and last place Italy at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff.
Wales were looking to finish the tournament on a high note and give their fans something to cheer about with a potential routine victory lined up.
But Italy had other ideas…
Having lost their last 36 games in a row in the Six Nations, Italy built upon their strong showing against Scotland last week with a last gasp win to break their dreaded losing streak and send the few Azzurri fans that had made the trip into chaos.
Throughout the game, the Italians had the edge over Wales, as a well-drilled wall of defence forced Wales into numerous penalties, racking up the points. Wales kept themselves in it though with tries from Owen Watkin and Dewi Lake, before Josh Adams cut back inside to dot down and give Wales a 6-point lead going into the final minutes.
With only 90 seconds left on the clock, 22-year-old Ange Capuozzo took the ball from this own half and slipped through Welsh tackles, handing the ball back inside to Edoardo Padovani to stick it under the posts and ensure it was a simple kick to win it.
Taking his time to run down the clock, Paolo Garbisi made no mistake, slotting over the conversion to give Italy a famous 21-22 win and their first ever Six Nations victory in Wales.
Impressive Ireland and Sub-Par Scotland
Aside from France, Ireland were the only other team to come out of this tournament with credit. Racking up 4 wins from 5, they saw off the Scots at home with a 26-5 victory that secured them the bonus point win to put the pressure firmly on France.
Any hopes of Scotland upsetting Ireland’s chances were quickly put away with first-half tries from front rowers Dan Sheehan and Cian Healy. Scotland did manage to respond with Pierre Schoeman burrowing over from close range to give the travelling fans something to cheer about.
Unfortunately, that’s as far as their points tally went, as the athletic Josh van der Flier found his way over the try line and Connor Murray bagged the crucial 4th try in the dying minutes, forcing France into a must-win game against England.
For Scotland, their opening round Calcutta win at home seems a distant memory, with disappointing losses against Wales, France and now Ireland resulting in a 4th place finish.
France Champs and Abject England
It all came down to this… The final game of the tournament between France and England at a packed-out Stade de France. With the first chance of silverware in over 10 years, France didn’t let the fans down.
Melvyn Jaminet opened France’s account with a penalty, before a sweeping move to the right saw Gaël Fickou score and extend their lead. England stayed in the contest, though, with outstanding kick-chases from winger Freddie Steward, while France’s handling errors let the Red Rose back in with two penalties from Marcus Smith’s boot.
With the score at 11-6, the men in blue raised the roof on the stroke of half time with a try from back rower François Cros.
Now with nothing to lose, England cut loose in the second half, with Steward slicing through the French defence to put them back within touching distance.
But that’s as far as it got for England; man-of-the-match and world number 1, Antoine Dupont, received a clever inside ball to crash over secure the title for France and kickstart the party celebrations!
What a tournament! Full of huge clashes between some of rugby’s best, next year’s championship is only gonna’ be bigger! For everything rugby, stay locked into @jdsports across our socials.