DUBLIN, IRL – If you weren’t watching Saturday’s Six Nations season finale triple-header, you might want to give Doctor Who a call and travel back in time to soak it all up in the moment.
The day started with and emotional send-off to Scotland head coach, Vern Cotter, who handed the Scottish baton to Glasgow coach, Gregor Townsend, following the match against Italy.
From there, complete craziness ensued.
In the second match of the day, France and Wales went toe-to-toe through over 100 minutes of rugby before a victor was decided…
Yes, 100 minutes.
To top it all off, Saturday’s Ireland versus England nightcap was a thrilling way to end the Six Nations; the Electric atmosphere in Dublin pushing Ireland to a shocking victory over the champions, England.
If you’re not lucky enough to find a Tardis, however, then relive the final weekend of the 2017 Six Nations with individual match reviews below…
Scotland 29 – 0 Italy
Scotland closed the final chapter of the Vern Cotter Era with a high-caliber drubbing of a hapless Italian side to begin Super Saturday’s action. A sloppy opening 20 minutes didn’t stop the Scottish from building up momentum from the very start of the match.
Finn Russell scored the first try for the Scottish to establish the foundations for Scotland’s breakdown of the Italians.
With 10 minutes left to go in the first half the Scottish struck again. Ali Price’s high, cross-field cake looked a bit overly optimistic, but Stuart Hogg’s aerial abilities turned that pipe dream into a try. The score at halftime came to a decisive 15-0 lead for the Scottish.
The beginning of the second half, however, saw a revitalized Italian outfit pining for the first try of the match. Italy put on major pressure within Scotland’s 22, but there are opportunities went to waste thanks to an incredible lack of creativity in scoring position is.
After 65 minutes Scotland remained be dominant of the two teams. Tim Visser and Tommy Seymour both scored a try each to continue bringing the scoreboard up, eventually landing with a huge victory to give Scotland their first three win tournament in over 11 years.
Maybe the best part of the whole match was the interaction between the Scottish faithful and head coach, Vern Cotter, who received a standing ovation from the fans thanking him for his contributions to Scottish Rugby over the last three years.
France 20 – 18 Wales
In a match that has been touted as the longest in test Rugby history, France edged Wales in an ultra tight battle that saw second half stoppage time run over the 99:55 mark, the highest the TV’s game clock settings allowed it to go.
The Welsh, failing to score a try in the match, relied heavily on the boot of fullback Leigh Halfpenny, who scored all Welsh points on the day through six penalty goals. His individual performance from the tee creates headaches for the British and Irish Lions selection committee. But that’s a story for another day…
France were the first to get on the board. After just six minutes, French center, Remi Lamerat crossed over after a streaking run to put the French ahead 7-0 (after Camille Lopez’s successful conversion).
Lopez went on to nail his first penalty of the match in the 15th minute before a French scoring drought started to take over.
Halfpenny easily cleared two second-half penalties in the 53rd and 64th minutes to give the Welsh a strong 15-13 lead, Lopez having added a 66th minute penalty.
This is where it got crazy.
Halfpenny drew the Welsh lead out to five points with just eight minutes remaining from the final whistle, but the French were utterly bound and determined to snag the final victory in front of their home side in this championship campaign.
Some questionable behavior from the French doctors gave the French an opportunity to substitute props freely just as extra time started, and from there the French hopped straight into the driving seat. The Welsh were incredibly valiant and resourceful in their defensive effort, but the French continued to drive straight for the try-line. Wave after wave pounded the welsh defense and more and more penalties went France’s way.
A penalty try seemed in order around 11 minutes into extra time, but referee Wayne Barnes was very reluctant to award such a score. In the end, it was the progressive work of the French forwards that culminated in a 100th minute drive from replacement forward, Damien Chouley.
The elation for the French was only rivaled emotionally by that of the Welsh team’s dejection. It truly was a wacky and wild finish to the very end.
Ireland 13 – 9 England
Saturday’s match between Ireland and England was an absolute steamroller of a performance to behold. England came into the match seeking both the grand slam as well as a new world record for consecutive victories, but the Irish made sure that England’s all or nothing (except the overall championship) match ended in defeat.
Ireland dominated almost every aspect of the match. They enjoyed over 60% of the overall possession and over 70% of positive territory throughout the match.
The crowd was crackling with electric anticipation following a pushed back kick-off due to the French match. They made well sure that the swinging of the chariots would not be tolerated on Dublin soil.
Ireland’s Jonathan Sexton put the Irish ahead 3-0 11 minutes into the match to get the scoreboard ticking over.
he one and only try of the match came 13 minutes later, in the 24th minute.
A successful Irish line out, a feature of Ireland’s game that excelled leaps and bounds beyond what it had produced throughout this campaign, allowed Peter O’Mahony to wrangle the ball down into an Irish driving maul.
It drove towards line and begin to collapse under English resistance, but second row forward Iain Henderson salvaged the ball and spun underneath two English defenders to reach out over the line and score.
Throughout the second half the Irish dominated possession, but the English were able to take away points from every kicking opportunity, bringing the score to 10-6.
Ireland’s salvation, however, came thanks to England’s consistently late-timed, borderline high hats on Sexton. A late penalty for, guess what, a high tackle gave a last legged chance to extend the lead. Sexton easily did, bringing the score to 13-6.
England’s Owen Farrell slotted England’s final points to bring the match close late, but the Irish simply didn’t budge.
Despite the 13-9 score line, Saturday’s final match was easily one of the most entertaining all-around matches on both offense and defense. The line speed and for a city of both sides’ defensive structures was incredible, and Ireland’s ability to retain the ball was the only reason why they were able to put a stop to England’s raging bull attitude.
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