Six Nations Week 4 | Preview
10th March 2017
Wales vs Ireland – Friday March 10th
Wales and Ireland do battle in the Principality on Friday night in the fourth round of this year’s Six Nations. Ireland know that only a victory in this game can keep their hopes for the title alive whilst Wales, already out of contention, will want to atone for their performances in the tournament so far.
Rob Howley, albeit slightly surprisingly, has named an unchanged 23 for the fixture giving his charges a brilliant opportunity to make up for the performance two weeks ago, and previously. Toby Faletau and Luke Charteris remain on the bench and Sam Davies is kept in reserve as Dan Biggar continues in out half berth.
Wales will want to bring huge physicality to pile the pressure on Ireland, who have more at stake, under the closed roof in Cardiff. The city will be a hive of excitement for this Friday evening fixture as a Celtic rivalry renews for it’s 2017 chapter. Although the pressure is arguably greater on the travelling Ireland team, the Welsh public will be expecting a strong performance this weekend.
Ireland have an unchanged starting XV with one change on the bench, as Tommy Bowe takes the position of his Ulster team mate Andrew Trimble. Jamie Heaslip earns his 100th test cap on Friday and will want it to be a night to remember. Joe Schmidt will have warned his players that this wounded Welsh side will a be a very dangerous prospect as they look to avoid any more slip ups this year to set up that mouthwatering clash against England next week in Dublin.
England vs Scotland – Saturday March 11th
Vern Cotter and Scotland travel down to Twickenham for what is one of the most anticipated Calcutta Cup fixtures of recent years. Most of this Scotland team weren’t even born the last time Scotland beat England at Twickenham but with their form in this year’s competition they will travel in high hopes that with another strong performance they will be on track to make history.
Scotland make two forced changes to their match day 23. Hamish Watson starts in place of the injured John Hardie and Cornell du Preez comes onto the bench in his first inclusion in the squad. Vern Cotter knows that it will take a special effort this weekend to get a win against this all conquering England team, they will need to put everything positive over the last three weekends together for one huge performance.
England make several changes to the team that was flummoxed by the Italian tactics two weeks ago. Jack Nowell, Ben Youngs, Jonathan Joseph come into the starting XV in place of Johnny May, Danny Care and Ben Te’o respectively. There is more good news in the form of Billy Vunipola’s return from injury to be named on the bench. Owen Farrell has been a worry over the last 24 hours after a collision in training caused him to miss Friday’s training session.
England will be wary of this much improved Scotland side and know that they might not get away with another sub par performance in this tournament. Saying that, they remain the only unbeaten team and should take great confidence as they go to equal the record for consecutive wins. They have such a low player turnover in this year’s tournament, using only 19 players as they remain injury free.