After two rounds, the 2021 Guinness Six Nations is starting to take shape and the weekend provided three more thrilling matches to leave things tantalisingly poised ahead of the first rest week.
The action began at Twickenham, where defending champions England ran in six tries to get their campaign back on track with a convincing 41-18 home victory against Italy.
Monty Ioane put the Azzurri ahead but England replied in style, with Anthony Watson grabbing two scores on home soil.
We were then treated to a brilliant spectacle at BT Murrayfield, where Louis Rees-Zammit’s wonderful try saw Wales edge to a 25-24 win away to 14-man Scotland.
At 17-3 up, the hosts looked set for a second straight victory to start the Championship but Wales hit back thanks to two Rees-Zammit scores.
And then on Sunday, France moved to the top of the table thanks to a first away win at Ireland for ten years, claiming the points with a 15-13 win.
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GAME ONE: England v Italy – Jonny May’s acrobatic dive to score in the corner – time: 40.39
Jonny May moved up to second on England’s all-time try-scoring chart with his 32nd Test score against Italy – and he did it with typical style.
England had already recovered from Ioane’s early try to lead Italy thanks to efforts from Jonny Hill and Watson, before May added a third on the stroke of half-time.
Desperate to score before the break, England pounded away at the Azzurri defensive line before scrum-half Ben Youngs switched the play, moving it left to full-back Elliot Daly ten metres out.
Daly then flung a pass wide to May, who leaped in the air a couple of metres out to avoid being pushed into touch by the covering defender before acrobatically grounding the ball.
GAME TWO: Scotland v Wales – Louis Rees-Zammit’s match winning try for Wales – time: 69.13
Louis Rees-Zammit’s phenomenal second-half try saw Wales come from behind to beat Scotland and stay unbeaten through two matches.
The 20-year-old winger raced onto the end of his own chip to score the winning points just ten minutes from time, breaking Scotland’s hearts and ensuring Wales enter the first rest week with two wins from two.
Despite being down to 14 men, Scotland took the lead with 15 minutes to go through Stuart Hogg’s second try of the match.
But Wales were far from done. Knowing there was space out wide, they moved the ball quickly and in the 70th minute Rees-Zammit conjured up some magic, by bursting down the right, kicking over Hogg and dotting down the bouncing ball for his second.
GAME THREE: Ireland v France – Damian Penaud’s try for the French in Dublin – time: 54.13
France got a giant monkey off their back by beating Ireland in Dublin on Sunday – something they had not done since 2011.
Ireland bossed large parts of the first half but trailed at the break thanks to Charles Ollivon’s try, and France – full of momentum – scored the decisive second just before the hour-mark.
Just inside Ireland’s 22, Antoine Dupont passed left to Matthieu Jalibert but the fly-half switched direction and drifted right before firing out a looping pass to Brice Dulin.
The full-back stepped inside Ireland defender James Lowe and found Penaud to his right, who dived over in the corner.
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