The Six Nations got off to an intriguing start with victories for the Irish, Welsh and French teams.
This weekend sees the next round of competition, as Ireland face reigning champions Wales, France take on Italy, and Scotland and England contest the Calcutta Cup.
Ireland v Wales:
After a convincing 22-point victory over Scotland, per BBC Sport, Ireland will feel confident going into their game with the mighty Wales.
Despite the Scottish dominating the Irish on the ball early in the game, the home team ran out comfortable winners to take the early lead in this year's Six Nations tournament.
Wales were less than convincing against an improving Italy side, with a narrow 23-15 victory at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, per BBC Sport.
It was again left to the expert kicking of the brilliant Leigh Halfpenny, who took his team over the line with two conversions from both of Wales' tries, and three penalties.
Per BBC Sport, Welsh legend Jonathan Davies commented:
Wales will have to do better next week against Ireland. They know there is a big test awaiting them in Dublin. Warren Gatland will be pleased with the result but not the performance because it's been a sluggish display. I would like to see a bit more creativity. There were far too many mistakes but the important thing is they won.
If the Welsh side produce another lacklustre display against a confident Irish team, their hopes of retaining their Six Nations crown could be seriously damaged.
This is a fantastic opportunity for Ireland to kick-on and drive themselves towards becoming this year's champions.
I feel that Wales will struggle on Irish soil, with their over-reliance of the boot of Halfpenny. If he has one of his very rare bad days, it will be the Ireland team who will be celebrating a famous victory.
Prediction: Ireland win 18-15.
France v Italy:
After breaking English hearts in the last seconds in Paris, per BBC Sport, the French will be in confident mood against their continental rivals Italy.
After leading England 16-3, the French almost threw the match away, with 19-year-old Gael Fickou winning the tie for his team with his dramatic late try.
The Italians will be in fine fettle after their display in Cardiff and will be up for their second away match of the series.
They have showed that they have the stomach to take on the best sides, and the timing of this game could be perfect for producing one of the Six Nations true shocks.
However, the question will be if Italy have the necessary skill to exploit any French complacency—they do not have the depth that England have.
I expect a comfortable day for the French hosts, with them retaining their 100 percent record.
Prediction: France win 28-14
Scotland v England:
England travel to Scotland in hope of retaining the Calcutta Cup once again, which they have held since 2009.
The English side will feel aggrieved after not being able to complete a famous comeback in Paris, but the spirit and determination they displayed will prepare them greatly for a battle against their oldest of enemies.
Former England lock, Ben Kay said:
Heartbreaking defeat for England. The first two tries for the French were fortuitous and England did really well to come back into it. When they played to their strengths it looked like France couldn't live with them. But then England let the game open up and it returned to the traditional French strengths.
Of course they will be disappointed, but they should take heart about the way this young side came back after being 13 points down. But it will take them a long time to recover from this disappointment.
Scotland's lack of gusto against the Irish cost them dearly, and it is hard to see where they will get their points from to defeat England.
If England can produce anywhere near the form they showed against France, you cannot see anything but victory for them.
However, in front of a noisy home crowd Scotland might be able to restrict England's scoring, and if they do keep the game tight they will have a chance to edge the match in the second half.
Prediction: England win 15-10
After the second round of matches I expect to see Ireland and France leading the charge towards Six Nations glory.
The two sides face each other in the very last game of the series, in what could become a classic conclusion to this year's championship.
France host the Irish in Paris, on 15 March.
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