Key points from Six Nations - Week 2

Dylan Hartley's place in the England squad is under scrutiny
Dylan Hartley's place in the England squad is under scrutiny
©PA

England have just maintained their winning streak while Scotland continue to search for their first win in Paris since 1999 as the week two of the Six Nations concluded on Sunday. Here are few of the key points from the encounters.

EDDIE'S DILEMA

Dylan Hartley is accustomed to being withdrawn early from games, but against Wales he lasted just six minutes into the second half. It was his briefest appearance yet and as Jamie George threw himself into each ruck, carried and tackled, it was evident what England are missing at hooker. Hartley is present for the leadership that has been a bulwark of the team's success, but how much longer Jones believes his value as standard bearer outweighs his lack of impact around the pitch is a delicate issue.

VINTAGE YEAR?

For the early rounds at least 2016 was a dismal year for the Six Nations, but 12 months on there are signs that a special tournament is in the making. Scotland's seismic upset of Ireland last weekend was founded on quality rugby, there are welcome signs that France are on the rise and England's victory over Wales in Cardiff will be chronicled among the tournament's great encounters. And in snatching defeat from the jaws of victory against the champions, Wales showed they could become a force once more.

DOWNWARD SPIRAL

Even the irrepressible Conor O'Shea, among the game's biggest optimists, must now be wondering what he has let himself in for. In two rounds Italy have conceded 96 points and are destined to finish bottom of the table yet again. Entrance into the Championship was intended to strengthen Italian rugby, but instead year on year their decline is becoming ever sharper.

SCOTS FALL IN PARIS

A second successive victory was within Scotland's grasp and had they showed a little more nous they might not have been leaving Paris with a 22-16 defeat. But while the result was disappointing it was another encouraging performance. France proved the revival that began in the autumn continues and for a team known for below-par conditioning, they finished strongly.

CARDIFF LIONS WATCH

England's collapse at the Principality Stadium four years ago had a dramatic impact on Lions selection and while Saturday's match was less conclusive, some cases were significantly advanced. Sam Warburton was outstanding and emphatically the pick of the back rows on parade, scrum-half Rhys Webb excelled and fly-half Dan Biggar gave Warren Gatland food for thought. For England Elliot Daly has so much to offer in a variety of positions, Owen Farrell once again proved he is the heartbeat of the team and Joe Launchbury was a colossus.

Our 6 Nations cover is sponsored by Allett Mowers

 

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