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Six Nations HT: Ireland 9-3 England

It's been a highly competitive game. Credit: PA

Johnny Sexton booted three penalties to edge Ireland into a 9-3 half-time lead in the RBS 6 Nations Grand Slam eliminator against England in Dublin.

The Racing Metro fly-half steered Ireland to tactical control as the Six Nations' two remaining unbeaten sides clashed at the Aviva Stadium.

Ireland flanker Sean O'Brien suffered a suspected concussion and was removed from the fray, reeling when trying to regain his feet after hurtling into contact.

Wales power past France in Six Nations

Wales claimed a fourth successive RBS 6 Nations victory over France as they powered home in Paris and kept alive their title hopes.

Wales, aiming to be crowned Six Nations champions for a third time in the last four years, triumphed 20-13 through fly-half Dan Biggar's second-half try and five Leigh Halfpenny penalties.

Wales beat France for the fourth consecutive time. Credit: PA

France delivered a 68th-minute try for full-back Brice Dulin, with fly-half Camille Lopez kicking a conversion and two penalties, but hopes of Six Nations silverware ended amid a fine Wales performance.

After losing to England in their opening Six Nations game, Wales are now firmly back on track.

Prospects of claiming another Six Nations title are still out of their hands, but successive wins against Scotland and France have put them in the mix, setting them up nicely for appointments with Ireland and Italy next month.


Scotland suffer surprise home defeat against Italy

Scotland were left facing their fourth wooden spoon in 11 years after a late collapse handed Italy a 22-19 RBS 6 Nations win at Murrayfield.

Mark Bennett's intercept try and 11 points from skipper Greig Laidlaw's boot looked to have put the hosts in command early on.

It was a bad day for Scotland. Credit: Reuters

But scores from Joshua Furno and Giovanbattista Venditti, plus five points from kicker Kelly Haimona, allowed the Italians back into the contest just before the break.

Laidlaw added another penalty after the restart, but his side could not hold off a late surge from the Azzurri and left referee George Clancy no option but to hand the Italians a last-gasp penalty try, converted by Tommy Allan.

One change for Ireland ahead of England clash

Jordi Murphy will replace the injured Jamie Heaslip for Ireland. Credit: PA

Ireland number eight Jordi Murphy will replace the injured Jamie Heaslip against England on Sunday in the only change to the champions side ahead of a potential Six Nations decider.

Heaslip cracked three vertebrae in Ireland's 18-11 victory over France two weeks ago in an incident that earned French lock Pascal Pape a 10-week ban, and Ireland hope he will be fit for their next game against Wales in Cardiff on March 14.

England make two changes for Ireland clash

Jack Nowell will replace Jonny May. Credit: PA

Exeter wing Jack Nowell will make his first England appearance for a year after being named on Friday to replace Jonny May in the team to face Ireland in what is shaping up to be a potential Six Nations decider Dublin on Sunday.

The slippery 21-year-old played in every match of last season's tournament, making his international debut in the opener against France, but has not been involved since after suffering bad knee and shoulder injuries.

However, his security under the high ball allied to some below-par defending by May in England's opening wins over Wales and Italy persuaded coach Stuart Lancaster to make the switch in one of two changes to the team that started both previous games.

The other change is an enforced one as Alex Goode starts at fullback in place of Mike Brown, who was ruled out after still feeling the effects of being knocked out at Twickenham two weeks ago.

England and Ireland have both won their opening two games and the victor on Sunday will be hot favourites to go on to take the title.

  • 15-Alex Goode, 14-Anthony Watson, 13-Jonathan Joseph, 12-Luther Burrell, 11-Jack Nowell, 10-George Ford, 9-Ben Youngs; 8-Billy Vunipola, 7-Chris Robshaw (captain), 6-James Haskell, 5-George Kruis, 4-Dave Attwood, 3-Dan Cole, 2-Dylan Hartley, 1-Joe Marler
  • Replacements: 16-Tom Youngs, 17-Mako Vunipola, 18-Henry Thomas, 19-Nick Easter, 20-Tom Croft, 21-Richard Wigglesworth, 22-Danny Cipriani, 23-Billy Twelvetrees

Mike Brown ruled out of England clash with Ireland

Brown was knocked out during the win over Italy Credit: PA

England full-back Mike Brown has been ruled out of Sunday's Six Nations match against Ireland after suffering a setback in his recovery from concussion, the Rugby Football Union has announced.

England head coach Stuart Lancaster said: "Mike and our medical staff have been diligent during every step of the graduated return to play protocol and they will continue to work to get him back to full health."


England hopeful Brown will feature against Ireland

England retain hope that Mike Brown will participate in Sunday's Six Nations showdown with Ireland after completing the latest stage in the return to play protocols for concussion.

Brown was knocked out during the win over Italy Credit: PA

Brown was knocked unconscious following an accidental collision with Andrea Masi in the 47-17 victory over Italy and is a doubt for the potential title decider at the Aviva Stadium.

The reigning player of the Championship suffered a recurrence of symptoms last week and was forced to restart the protocols, but completed Tuesday's running session and will progress on to the next stage.

Alex Goode is on standby to deputise and Chris Pennell is also in the squad as full-back cover if Brown fails to prove his fitness by the deadline on Friday morning when the starting XV is announced.

Gatland hints at Wales exit after Lewis departure

Wales head coach Warren Gatland admits the departure of Welsh Rugby Union group chief executive Roger Lewis could impact on his own long-term future.

Lewis unveils Gatland as Wales coach in 2007. Credit: PA

Gatland, who was signed up by Lewis eight years ago, is under contract with Wales until 2019.

During that time, Wales have won three RBS 6 Nations titles, including two Grand Slams, and reached a World Cup semi-final.

Asked whether Lewis' decision had any bearing on Gatland's future, the New Zealander added: "Yeah, it probably does."

Asked if he would elaborate on that final point, Gatland said: "No."

Wales recall George North to face France

Wing George North and prop Samson Lee have both been recalled by Wales for Saturday's Six Nations clash against France in Paris.

North has been recalled by Wales to face France on Saturday. Credit: PA

North has not played since taking two blows to his head during a 21-16 home defeat against England earlier this month, with Wales deciding to rest him for the Scotland game nine days ago.

But Northampton star North now returns, replacing his fellow 2013 British and Irish Lion Alex Cuthbert, while Lee - who was concussed in the England match - takes over from Aaron Jarvis. Two other changes following the victory over Scotland see starts for hooker Scott Baldwin and lock Luke Charteris.

Italy prop needs 14 stitches after dog bites his face

Italy prop Martin Castrogiovanni is set to miss Italy's RBS 6 Nations trip to Scotland after being bitten in the face by a dog.

Castrogiovanni will not feature against Scotland. Credit: PA

The 33-year-old Toulon player will be examined by medical staff to determine whether the wound beneath his nose and above his top lip will rule him out Saturday's game at Murrayfield, Edinburgh.

Castrogiovanni lives with three dogs, Nano the dachshund, Fatty the bulldog and Ettore the Bernese Mountain Dog, but it is understood a friend's pet administered a bite which needed 14 stitches.

The Italian Rugby Federation said the injury was the result of a "minor household incident" while announcing it had called up Wasps' Lorenzo Cittadini as cover.

If Castrogiovanni, who has been capped 109 times, cannot participate he will join Andrea Masi (severe cut) and Marco Bortolami (abductor muscle) on the sidelines.

The Azzurri are bottom of the Six Nations table after losing their two opening games to Ireland in Rome and then to England at Twickenham.

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