First XV – England Top Group – By Andrew Todd

England went top of the RBS Six Nations with a gutsy 12-6 victory over Ireland in Dublin, to end a ten year baron run in the Irish capital yesterday.

England now find themselves two points clear at the top after Scotland defeated Italy and Wales won a close encounter away in France on Saturday, leaving Stuart Lancaster and his men as the only unbeaten side left in the championship and in prime position for their first grand slam since 2003.

Despite having the majority of possession, Ireland knocked-on numerous times and created very little against the white wall of defence in front of them.

In the lowest scoring match in Six Nations history, it was four Owen Farrell penalties, in reply to two from Ronan O’Gara, which was enough to clinch victory over an aggressive Irish side.

Scotland’s biggest ever win in the Six Nations brought Italy’s heroes from six days previous, back down to earth with a thump.

Tries from Tim Visser, Stuart Hogg, Sean Lamont and Matt Scott was enough for Scotland to see off Sergio Parisse and his men.

George North’s first try of the championship helped Wales beat France 16-6, ending a terrible run of eight defeats in a row.

In a lacklustre game in Paris, it was the boot of Leigh Halfpenney and North’s try that made the difference, leaving France licking their wounds for the second week in a row and sitting bottom of the table.

This week saw a considerably less number of outstanding performances but with British and Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland watching closely, it was again Farrell who stood out with another impressive performance with the boot.

With fellow fly half contender Jonny Sexton hobbling off injured too, this leaves the door even wider open for the young English man.

Another outstanding performer in Dublin was the England skipper’s Chris Robshaw, who definitely threw his hat further into the ring for the captaincy of the tour.

Unfortunately it was the Irish skipper Jamie Heaslip who lost out. His very unimpressive performance means the question still remains as to whether he really should have the captaincy over their talismanic former captain Brian O’Driscoll.

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