Gareth Chilcott: Let's hope England and Wales can set up a Six Nations decider
England face Italy on Sunday with a real chance of not only winning the Six Nations, but winning it in style with a Grand Slam – and who would have thought that would be possible after those first two autumn international games.
It just shows what a difference a good, confident win does – England lost those two games against Australia and South Africa, and everything was a bit dodgy, a bit gloomy, but with that big 38-21 win over New Zealand they managed to get a bit of momentum that they have carried over into the Six Nations.
They’ve been helped by France being a bit inept – and that has given them a really great opportunity to do something special.
England have still got Italy to face on Sunday, but at Twickenham it really should be a match they win, and that will set it up very nicely indeed for the games against Wales in Cardiff a week on Saturday.
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England have an exciting side, they are all quite young and in the front five, they look like they aren’t afraid of anyone. It’s a Lions year this year, and they are all playing themselves into contention to be picked for the tour, which is great to see. Despite their years, they’ve shown a maturity to be able to play in bad weather, to be able to come up against a big pack like France’s, and show that their back row can compete with anyone.
In the backs, they’ve got some good young players and it is exciting times. Now, I’ve seen some false dawns before, mind you, so let’s not get ahead of ourselves, but it certainly bodes well for 2015 and the World Cup, which will be in England.
Hopefully, Wales will win at Murrayfield tomorrow too, and that will mean it’s all to play for going to the Millennium Stadium in a week’s time. That’s what the fans want – everyone wants to see a final game where everything is at stake.
That is why it was great to see Bath beat Gloucester last week, because it keeps the season alive for Bath fans.
It was a great game of rugby, and the turning point was obviously the sending off. The mere fact that there is now still a chance to get into the top four and into Europe keeps everything buzzing at The Rec. It’s a long shot, because they pretty much have to win every game now, and pick up bonus points too, as well as hope that the teams above them slip up, but it is good for everyone at Bath to keep the season going.
If they’d have lost to Gloucester, there was a danger their season would peter out, but this is what everyone wants – to be up there competing for silverware and getting into Europe. Let’s hope they can turn over Harlequins tomorrow. It’s a cup game and anything can happen.