Six Nations watch
Monday 20 February 2012
ENGLAND v WALES
Possibly the key development of the weekend before the biggest match of the weekend to come concerned someone who didn't actually play – Luke Charteris is close to a return to fitness but he didn't make the Newport-Gwent Dragons' side for their win over Edinburgh on Saturday night. Warren Gatland, therefore, is most likely still to be without his World Cup locks when he takes his men to Twickenham, Alun Wyn Jones' return for the Ospreys on Friday notwithstanding.
England could welcome back two backs who didn't have quite as wretched a World Cup as everyone else – Toby Flood and Manu Tuilagi played in Leicester's win at Saracens. However, Charlie Hodgson and Owen Farrell, whom they could replace, have been key to the two wins so far. The No 8 Ben Morgan, favoured to displace Phil Dowson, came through the Scarlets' loss to Leinster unscathed.
IRELAND v ITALY
The fly-half Ronan O'Gara, who has lost his international starting spot to Jonny Sexton, made the most of a start for Munster in Italy, kicking 15 points in a 35-14 win over Treviso. One of Italy's two first-choice scrum-halves, Fabio Semenzato, scored one of Treviso's two tries; Willem de Waal, one of the southern hemisphere-born fly-halves dominating Italian club rugby without necessarily being good enough for Tests – remember the unfortunate Tobias Botes in Rome the other week – kicked a couple of conversions.
SCOTLAND v FRANCE
The match that meant France v Ireland could not be replayed at Stade de France on Saturday, Stade Français v Toulon, produced a 19-19 draw and what would have been, in any other year, the Six Nations story of the weekend: an injury for Jonny Wilkinson. The former England fly-half damaged his knee and his ankle and did not finish the game.
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