Tight Tests all round

The second Saturday of this year's Six Nations saw wins for France and Wales but improved performances in defeat for both Scotland and England. [more]

Tight Tests all round

The second Saturday of this year’s Six Nations saw wins for France and Wales but improved performances in defeat for both Scotland and England.

Having being on the wrong end of a 30-21 scoreline against an impressive Ireland side at Croke Park last weekend, the French bounced back to record a 22-13 win over the Scots in Paris.

Wales, meanwhile, made it two wins from two with a hard-fought win over Martin Johnson’s England at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium in the late kick-off.

The first match of the day finished a try-a-piece in the French capital, with Fulgence Ouedraogo and Thom Evans crossing for their country’s converted scores. It was a Frenchman’s boot that proved the more productive, however, with five penalties from Lionel Beauxis compared to two from Phil Godman separating the two sides at the Stade de France.

With Ouedraogo’s try shrouded in controversy due to a suspected forward pass, Scotland coach Frank Hadden admitted the result was a disappointment but that the Scottish performance hinted at a bright future.

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“The attitude and the intensity was spot on and we were good in the contact area," Hadden told BBC Sport.

"We made six line-breaks to their three and we should have made more of the two big line-breaks we made. Again, that’s something we’re working on.

"We made some progress because we didn’t turn up last week. We turned up this week and we deserved better from the game.

"I feel we’re ahead of where we were last season and I expect us to make a big impact in the next few games."

It was a similar case of improvement in defeat for England against 2008 Grand Slam winners Wales, who held their composure to fight off a determined English challenge.

Warren Gatland’s tournament favourites led 9-0 and 20-8 thanks to the boot of Stephen Jones and Leigh Halfpenny and an early second-half try from the Welsh teenager, but England twice fought back to ensure the result was always in doubt.

Paul Sackey and Delon Armitage claimed tries for the visitors who closed to within a point at the half-time interval and then reduced the gap to five points as the game entered the closing stages.

A final Stephen Jones penalty confirmed the win for Wales who pleased their coach with their defensive efforts, work rate and determination to record their eighth successive Six Nations victory.

"I’m pretty happy,” said Gatland, who is yet to lose a Six Nations fixture since taking charge in the Principality.

“I’m pretty impressed with the players. I think the team is developing nicely.

“It was a real good Test match, it was a tough Test match. You’ve got to give England a lot of credit because they actually came here and tried to play a little bit of rugby and defended really well.

"When we spoke at half-time we said…‘it’s going to be really tough, can we pick the pace up, can we pick the tempo up?’

"I thought the way we defended in that last seven or eight minutes, I didn’t think England were ever going to score.

"We got stronger as the game went on and it was really positive."

Although they were forced to play for 20 minutes with 14 men after having Mike Tindall and Andy Goode sin binned for infringements in either half, England team manager and former Lions skipper Johnson felt his team did enough to win the game.

"Despite the penalties and sin-bins we kept ourselves in the game," said Johnson.
 
"We could have been good enough to overcome that if we’d backed ourselves. We let the Test match slip by.

"There were opportunities for us to win the Test match, it’s disappointing that we didn’t take it."

In the remaining second round Six Nations fixture, Ireland travel to Rome to take on Italy on Sunday afternoon.

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