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Six Nations Fixtures 2014: Key Battles to Watch During Week 3 Action

EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - FEBRUARY 08:  Jonny May of England runs through with the ball during the RBS Six Nations match between Scotland and England at Murrayfield Stadium on February 8, 2014 in Edinburgh, Scotland.  (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
David Rogers/Getty Images
Tom SunderlandFeatured ColumnistFebruary 17, 2014

Having enjoyed a much-needed respite in the tournament schedule, Six Nations rugby returns to the spotlight this weekend with a pick of Week 3 blockbusters on the billing.

Once again, the continental curtain will be raised as Europe's giants clash on a team-wide scale, but here it's the more individual stage that we cast an eye toward.

Looking ahead to the Week 3 fixture list, we've picked out which one-on-one encounters promise to have the biggest say on just which teams emerge triumphant.

2014 Six Nations: Week 3 Fixtures
DateTimeFixtureVenue
Friday, Feb. 218 p.m. GMT/3 p.m. ETWales vs. FranceMillennium Stadium
Saturday, Feb. 221:30 p.m. GMT/8:30 a.m. ETItaly vs. ScotlandStadio Olimpico
Saturday, Feb. 224 p.m. GMT/11 a.m. ETEngland vs. IrelandTwickenham
BBC Sport

 

Jamie Roberts vs. Wesley Fofana

Friday evening's showdown in Cardiff has the potential to be one of the most entertaining fixtures of the entire tournament in terms of scoring expectations. It's thanks to the superstar likes of Jamie Roberts and Wesley Fofana that this is the case.

Thibault Camus/Associated Press

Roberts wasn't available for Racing Metro when the Top 14 big spenders clashed against Fofana's Clermont earlier in the Top 14 season, but now is his chance for redemption at the 47-14 loss his side suffered in his absence.

In terms of weapons, it's Les Bleus' No. 12 who could be the far better off with Mathieu Bastareaud outside him, but Roberts could receive a massive boost should Jonathan Davies return to the No. 13 jersey at the Millennium Stadium.

 

Sergio Parisse vs. David Denton

Usually a fixture that turns out to be one between Wooden Spoon contenders, Scotland and Italy again meet this year, and once again it's with both teams having failed to take any points thus far.

Alastair Grant/Associated Press

Despite that bad luck thus far, both David Denton and Sergio Parisse have been some of the brighter lights of recent weeks, and a very physical onslaught awaits at Rome's Stadio Olimpico.

While Parisse's importance to the Azzurri cause is well-chronicled, Denton has truly come to the fore for Scott Johnson's team of late and is proving to be of great use in the loose, something that his Italian counterpart will seek to restrain.

 

Davis Wilson vs. Cian Healy

EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - FEBRUARY 08:  Jonny May (L) and Dan Cole celebrate with the Calcutta Cup after thier victory during the RBS Six Nations match between Scotland and England at Murrayfield Stadium on February 8, 2014 in Edinburgh, Scotland.  (Photo by
David Rogers/Getty Images

The news of Dan Cole's tournament-ending neck injury, per BBC Sport, might be like nails on a chalkboard for Stuart Lancaster, but it's a sweet, sweet melody for Irish fans.

Cian Healy will be the man going up against whomever should be named Cole's replacement, most likely to be Bath's David Wilson, which is sure to delight Joe Schmidt's loose-head fiend.

Rucktales agree that it's a massive push for Ireland's chances:

Not that Lancaster's options at tight-head, including Sale's Henry Thomas, don't hold promise, but with Healy one of the world's in-form powers at his position, an intriguing battle at the set piece awaits in particular.

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