Sport

England chase Six Nations Grand Slam

With two games gone in the 2013 RBS Six Nations it is advantage England, with two impressive victories and as the sole unbeaten team, they face inevitable talk of a potential Grand Slam. The chasing pack, bar France, have one win and one defeat to their name, meaning the Championship is finely poised.

Photo: IndependentPhoto: Independent

Off the back of an indifferent Autumn containing an unexpected victory over the All Blacks, England opened their account with a display of attacking flair as they ran out winners against an overrun Scottish side. The score line did not flatter an English side led by the boot of Owen Farrell.

They then faced arguably their biggest test: the Irish on home soil. It was here that England demonstrated grit and determination in a disjointed game that relied on the kickers. Owen Farrell and Chris Robshaw were the heroes as England kept their 100% record.

The young side have defied critics with two very different wins and with the bottom two still to play, a Grand Slam is a very real possibility.

Scotland were outclassed in their opening game against England, but were resurgent against the Italians, taking full advantage of their opponents handling errors for a big victory, which places them in second position. The win was their first at home since before the 2011 World Cup.

Initially Wales looked every part a side that had lost four consecutive internationals; they were struggling for confidence and could not convert their dominance in possession to a victory, though they will have been pleased with a late point scoring surge.

They then took on a struggling French side, where an underwhelming game was decided by a late George North try. The win will have instilled a sense of self-belief that was missing in the Autumn.

Ireland surged to a 30-3 point lead early in the second half courtesy of Johnny Sexton kicking 15 points with 100% accuracy. They withstood a Welsh fight back to land the first win of the tournament.

Against England they looked a good side, but the first half injuries to Johnny Sexton and Simon Zebo dulled their threat, and ultimately they came up short in a game reliant on kicking.

A determined Italian side secured victory over France in Rome. The hosts, led by talismanic captain Sergio Parisse, took advantage of poor opposition on the day for an historic win.

They then travelled to Scotland looking for their first back-to-back victories, but handling errors let them down in a big defeat.

Undoubtedly, the surprise of the tournament is the ineffectiveness of a French side that put in stellar performances in the autumn internationals. Key players like Freddie Michalak have not put in game winning performances and the whole attack have looked out of ideas. The deflating defeat against Italy was the worst possible start for a side with Grand Slam aspirations.

They continued their poor showing against the Welsh on an atrocious Stade Francais pitch. Though this was no excuse as defeat spelled the first time a French side had lost their opening two Six Nations matches.

21/02/2013

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