Six Nations Fixtures 2014: Key Battles to Watch in Final Weekend

Rory MarsdenFeatured ColumnistMarch 10, 2014

EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - MARCH 08:  Mathieu Bastareaud of France is tackled by Ryan Grant (L) and Scott Lawson during the RBS Six Nations match between Scotland and France at Murrayfield Stadium on March 8, 2014 in Edinburgh, Scotland.  (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
David Rogers/Getty Images

The final weekend of the 2014 Six Nations sees Ireland looking to claim the championship in Paris in what will be Brian O'Driscoll's final international game before his retirement.

Thanks to their vastly superior points difference, Ireland will likely simply have to win to claim victory in the competition. 

England would be the likely benefactors from any Irish slip up as they will travel to Rome looking for a big victory over Italy.

Read on for the fixture list and analysis of the key individual battles in each of the games.

Six Nations 2014: Week 5 Fixtures
15 March12.30pm GMT, 7.30am ETItaly vs. England
15 March2.45pm GMT, 9.45am ETWales vs. Scotland
15 March5pm GMT, noon ETFrance vs. Ireland


Mathieu Bastareaud vs. Brian O'Driscoll

DUBLIN, IRELAND - MARCH 08:  (Re-transmission of image #477279873 with alternate crop) Brian O'Driscoll of Ireland watches the scrum during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Italy at Aviva Stadium on March 8, 2014 in Dublin, Ireland.  (Photo b
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

O'Driscoll put in a fine performance against Italy in his last home game in an Ireland shirt. He set up three of his side's six tries and was many people's man-of-the-match.

He will face up to a tough test against France in the shape of opposite number Bastareaud who will be looking to perform after a largely anonymous tournament. 

The Frenchman will present O'Driscoll with the type of physical challenge the 35-year-old would rarely have encountered in his 140 international caps.

But if O'Driscoll can come out on top in the battle, it will go a long way to giving Ireland the victory they need to win the championship.

It would be a fitting end to a phenomenal career, but it will not be an exhibition for the Leinster man.

He will have to be rock solid in defence and blistering in attack to dominate his opposite number.


Sergio Parisse vs. Chris Robshaw

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 09:  Chris Robshaw of England is tackled by Sam Warburton of Wales during the RBS Six Nations match between England and Wales at Twickenham Stadium on March 9, 2014 in London, England.  (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

A battle of the back-row skippers, as it were, the leaders of their respective teams; it will be up to them to orchestrate a victory.

Parisse was not played against Ireland with many supposing he was being held back for a run at England.

If Italy are to claim a famous victory in Rome, the 30-year-old will have to be at his brilliant best, marshaling his side as he did in this fixture last year when Italy lost by seven points at Twickenham.

On that occasion, Parisse's leadership had England hanging on for the win at the end of 80 minutes.

It will be up to Robshaw to impose his own impact on his team and galvanise his pack to dominate proceedings.

If England can win the forwards battle, they will win the game and will hope an Ireland loss may hand them the title. 


Liam Williams vs. Stuart Hogg

EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - MARCH 08:  Stuart Hogg of Scotland breaks with the ball during the RBS Six Nations match between Scotland and France at Murrayfield Stadium on March 8, 2014 in Edinburgh, Scotland.  (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
David Rogers/Getty Images

Wales were dealt a huge blow towards the end of their 29-18 loss to England as Leigh Halfpenny walked off the field with an injured shoulder.

It has now been confirmed that he will be out for the rest of the season and will thus miss Wales' final Six Nations clash with Scotland.

Scarlets full-back Liam Williams is the likely replacement and he will have big shoes to fill as Halfpenny was one of few bright spots for Wales at Twickenham.

His opposite number, Stuart Hogg, played very well in Scotland's agonising loss to France. Hogg scored a try and kicked well and will look to improve on his performance for the trip to Cardiff.

Williams has the chance to shine with Halfpenny out and Hogg will be desperate to push his team to victory after disappointment last time out.