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Hat trick and wooden spoon, daily newspaper Junge Welt, February 28, 2024

Highly superior: Scotland beat England 30:21 (February 24, 2024)

In the “Six Nations Championship” in European rugby, the team from Ireland remains on course to defend their title after three match days. After France and Italy had already been confidently defeated, the Irish beat the men from Wales 31-7 on Saturday in the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. With a win against England on the Saturday after next in London with four or more tries – for which there would be a bonus point in the match day standings – captain Peter O’Mahony’s team could close the bag on the fourth match day of this year’s Six Nations tournament. If Scotland were defeated on the last day of the match, Ireland would win a particularly prestigious “Grand Slam” – and for the first time in consecutive years.

In the first half, Wales didn’t have much to say offensively, but defended with commitment. The men around captain Dafydd Jenkins had no other choice when the Irish had 70 percent of the ball. The score was 17-0 after attempts by hooker Dan Sheehan, who completed an extremely efficient package attack (21st minute of the game), and wing James Lowe, who used an advantage on the left wing to score a try (32nd minute). Half time break. In the 7th minute of the game, fly-half Jack Crowley converted a penalty kick after a high Welsh tackle to give the team a 3-0 lead. Crowley also safely converted the two raising kicks for two points each after the attempts.

At the beginning of the second half, Wales scored their only points: after four Irish rule violations within a few minutes in front of their own in-goal, the Italian referee Andrea Piardi gave a penalty try (43′). He also sent Tadhg Beirne to the sin bin for ten minutes with a yellow card. With attempts from full-back Ciarán Frawley (67′) and Beirne (80’+1), the Irish secured their third bonus point win in the third game at the last second.

Ireland (15 points) is clearly leading in the table ahead of Scotland (nine points), who beat England 30:21 at Murrayfield Stadium in Edinburgh on Saturday. England went ahead 10-0 after a try from full-back George Furbank (4th) and a raise (6th) and penalty (14th) from George Ford. But then Scotland took control and wing Duhan van der Merwe scored a hat-trick with three tries (20th, 30th and 45th / Finn Russell added each). The 1.93 meter tall and 106 kilogram winger demonstrated his explosive speed on his second attempt. With the ball under his arm, he sprinted from his own half around 60 meters down the left sideline and left everyone standing. The remaining points for Scotland went to fly-half Finn Russell, who confidently converted three raises and three penalties, once again being the creative center of the Scottish game. England did get a try through substitute center Immanuel Feyi-Waboso (67′) and fly-half George Ford once again proved to be a versatile kicker with two penalty kicks, a penalty kick and a drop goal. But overall, the team under head coach Steve Borthwick lacked a coherent offensive concept.

On Sunday, France and Italy rounded off the match day with a draw that is extremely rare in rugby. With the last action, Italy still had the chance to win, but fly-half Paolo Garbisi’s penalty hit the post and broke the hearts of the Italian fans. Not a deserved first Six Nations win for Italy on French soil. After 80 minutes of play, the score was 13:13 in Lille. The “Équipe Tricolore” played the second half after a red card for center Jonathan Danty due to dangerous play when he was outnumbered. It was the second red card for the unusually undisciplined French in three games. France (six points) is fourth in the table behind England (eight points). Wales and Italy (three points each) are at the bottom and will probably decide among themselves who “wins” the symbolic wooden spoon for the bottom of the tournament.

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