Opinion: George Kruis the star man as England take control of Six Nations title chase
- Credit: PA
Local rugby coach Jonny O'Brien, of Easton & Otley College and Norwich RFC, reflects on the second round of games in the 2016 Six Nations.
England go top of the table after a 40-9 win in the impressive Azzurri stadium. In the first half it didn't go to plan for England, Italy defended stoutly and turned over England's ball too easily for head coach Eddie Jones's liking.
England took a slender lead into half-time with a well-worked George Ford try being the only time either side managed to breach the try-lines.
In the second half England dominated the break down and created much quicker ball. Eddie Jones then rang the changes and the bench brought more impetus to the game with Maro Itoje, Jack Clifford and Danny Care making an impact and therefore they deserve a mention.
Jonathan Joseph scored an impressive hat-trick of tries. Local boy Ben Youngs gained the official man of the match award but my standout performer was second rower George Kruis who was exceptional up front.
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Wales beat Scotland 27-23. George North's exceptional solo try won this very tight affair and made the home support hit the pubs happy.
Scotland took a slender 13-10 lead in to half-time. In the second half the game opened up and both teams attacked from deep – yet Scotland's decision making again letting them down at vital points in the game.
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Some heroic defence from Scotland as Wales encamped on their try-line reminded me a bit of the epic Wales v Australia encounter in the 2015 World Cup.
Wales created numerous phases though and Scotland's resolve eventually gave way as the powerful Jamie Roberts charged over from close range – gleefully tapping the badge on his shirt as he celebrated with his team-mates.
Duncan Taylor scored his first try for Scotland to give them hope but it was too little too late. Wales keep their unbeaten record whilst Scotland go back to the drawing board in search of their first win of the tournament.
Ireland's hopes of a third successive Six Nations is hanging by a thread after a late France try by Mixime Médard's snatched the victory from the grasps of an injury-hit Ireland team.
Similar to the previous week, Ireland dominated the first half with France's ill-discipline stopping their ability to get a foothold in the game. Two key injuries to Sean O'Brien and Jonny Sexton had a strong impact. This perhaps made the difference and it so transpired that it was jubilation for France in the end.
That makes it two wins from two for the French – but we haven't seen the free flowing rugby so desired by their fans as of yet.
There are no games next week but the following week's fixtures should give us a clearer idea of who will be challenging for top spot as England face Ireland at Twickenham and the unbeaten pair of Wales and France battle it out to keep their 100pc records.
The third and final fixture will be between Scotland and Italy with the loser looking likely to pick up the wooden spoon. It's an intriguing set of games that I'm looking forward to watching.