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Page last updated at 14:29 GMT, Saturday, 28 February 2009
2009 Six Nations
7 Feb-21 March

BBC coverage | 606 | Official site


Ireland 14-13 England

Scotland 26-6 Italy

France 21-16 Wales

Text 81111 or use 606 (Not all contributions can be used)

By Rob Hodgetts

1930: So there we have it, team. A narrow Ireland win to keep the Grand Slam dream alive. They weren't great but a victory is a victory. England had a golden chance to beat the under-par Irish but the indiscipline and two yellow cards gifted the day to the home side. Pity Danny Care and Phil Vickery when Martin Johnson gets hold of them. Thanks for all your chat, texts and 606 messages today. See you next time.

"I'm trying to keep my cool here but I've just told the guys they've cost themselves a Test match," says exasperated England coach Martin Johnson.

80 mins: Time runs out for England but not before a final bit of biffo between the two sides.

"The dream lives on for Ireland," says a very relieved former Ireland captain Keith Wood.

"It was a hard game," says Brian O'Driscoll. "There were a few hazy parts for me but we'll take a one-point victory over England every day. I don't think England get the credit they deserve. Whatever form they might have coming in it's always a hard game."

78 mins: TRY Ireland 14-13 England

Andy Goode makes a good little half-break and offloads to Mike Tindall who thunders upfield. The ball is recycled and Goode puts in a little grubber for Delon Armitage to pounce on it over the line. Goode converts and England rush frantically back for the kick-off.

76 mins: "Fields of Athenry" rings out as the "Croker" faithful sense the win is in the bag.

75 mins: England again squander an overlap as Riki Flutey opts for a kick upfield. With possession needed it's not the best plan, you'd think. Brian O'Driscoll is down again - he's been in the wars today, but as a small filip is named man of the match for his try and drop-goal by Brian Moore.

69 mins: PENALTY - Ireland 14-6 England

Brian O'Driscoll tries another drop-goal but this one is best forgotten. But England's Danny Care is sin-binned after intervention from the touch judge. A late tackle with the shoulder is the reason and England's poor discipline continues. Coach Martin Johnson is apoplectic in the stands. Ronan O'Gara slots the penalty and Ireland see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Toby Flood, by the way, has ice on his left knee on the bench.

"Do the England players think that yellow cards are bonus points?" FairPlayMotty on 606.

67 mins: The game is opening up and Ireland's Luke Fitzgerald is clean through into open space before getting dragged down. The crowd sense there could be fireworks to end the game.

Jerry Flannery is off for Rory Best and Jamie Heaslip comes off for Denis Leamy.

63 mins: PENALTY Ireland 11-6 England

Ireland's Paddy Wallace is penalised for not rolling away and Delon Armitage, instead of Toby Flood, slots three crucial points. Phil Vickery comes back on. For England, Andy Goode replaces Flood at fly-half, while Dylan Hartley comes on for Lee Mears at hooker.

60 mins: Paul Sackey's replacement by Mathew Tait is for injury reasons - strapping on his ankle - rather than tactical.

Tait has an immediate impact though and charges deep into the Ireland 22. England go through the phases but the move peters out with a pass to the bloke in the front row of the stand.

55 mins: TRY Ireland 11-3 England

Ireland choose a scrum and then get a free-kick which they take quickly, inching onto the opposition line. England are defending desperately but Brian O'Driscoll burrows his way over for the try. Ronan O'Gara, who is out of sorts to say the least, misses with the conversion.

54 mins: To roars of "heave" from the crowd Ireland press again and England prop Phil Vickery is sent to the sin-bin for more indiscipline.

53 mins: Ireland go long at the line-out to Paul O'Connell. They rumble to within inches and earn an advantage, which they cash in when England captain Steve Borthwick is warned his side face a yellow card. Ireland go for the line-out again.

51 mins: Ireland turn the ball over in midfield and the noise levels roar as the green shorts hare forward with numbers and space on the left. But Brian O'Driscoll is knocked down by a Delon Armitage shoulder after his kick ahead to the biggest roar - or boo - of the night. O'Driscoll gingerly trots back to his position as Ronan O'Gara kicks into the corner.

49 mins: Ireland get good ball in midfield with numbers outside but Brian O'Driscoll opts to kick ahead. The centre stays down after a late-ish challenge from Riki Flutey.In a tit-for-tat exchange, Paul O'Connell fells Delon Armitage with his shoulder. BOD gets up eventually and the game trundles on.

44 mins: DROP-GOAL Ireland 6-3 England

Not much occurring as Ireland pick-and-go around the fringes in midfield. But when the ball comes back Brian O'Driscoll snaps a drop-goal to break the deadlock.

"For some strange reason I am really enjoying this game." Leedseyyy on 606.

I agree old chum. It's gripping Test match rugby and could go either way. But if they could just stop this mind-numbing kicking...

43 mins: England make a sortie into the Irish 22 with a Toby Flood kick ahead but the fly-half dives on Brian O'Driscoll's back as he gathers the ball and gives away a penalty.

41 mins: Ronan O'Gara gets the second half under way and immediately draws a penalty as James Haskell handles the ball illegally on the ground.O'Gara's penalty, though, hits the right post and bounces back out. Ireland keep the pressure on and force a line-out on the left in England's 22.

40 mins: Toby Flood kicks out to end the half. Not quite the fireworks we were hoping for.

"Tentative and tense. Nervous and cautious. Ireland need a lot more depth to attack this England three-quarter line. I think you'll see Declan Kidney read the riot act and say 'we've got to show more ambition'. This game is there for the taking for both sides."Former Ireland star Phillip Matthews.

"It's unbelievable compared to how Ireland have played so far this season. If I'm Martin Johnson I'm ecstatic and I'd say 'this game is yours if you up the tempo."BBC commentator Jeremy Guscott.

38 mins: PENALTY Ireland 3-3 England

England press hard at the end of the half and win a penalty under the sticks which Toby Flood bangs over.

"Name one England player who will be in the starting XV for the first Lions' Test." Fabuniquemembername on 606.

Well, there's...

35 mins: Ireland are building up a head of steam in England's half but ultimately nothing comes of it as Ronan O'Gara threads a grubber through to nobody.

"What i'd give to see the likes of Jason Leonard, Martin Johnson, Ben Cohen, Jonny Wilkinson on this pitch. I know it's harking back to the past, but my god, this Ireland team is there for the taking, but we're just too slow and ponderous." NottsFan on 606.

I obviously can't be biased but he/she is right on that score - Ireland are not at their best. Not that England are much better, though the quicker ball is a welcome improvement.

33 mins: "Turgid" and "stodgy" are just two descriptions of the first half so far from the commentators. Bit harsh lads, it's a Test match. Wouldn't mind seeing a try, though.

32 mins: Phil Vickery is isolated and is forced to hang onto the ball in the tackle and is inevitably penalised.

31 mins: Bit more kicking shenanigans before Nick Easter gathers the ball and sticks his head down for a bit of a rumble. It works, as England edge upfield but another kick ruins the momentum.

27 mins: PENALTY Ireland 3-0 England

England skipper Steve Borthwick makes his own crucial intervention as Brian O'Driscoll intercepts a wayward England pass and looks up into acres of space. Borthwick sticks out a paw and conjures up a nice tap-tackle to fell his opposite number.

But England infringe at the breakdown and this time, Ronan O'Gara is on target.

25 mins: Brian O'Driscoll puts in a crucial, crunching tackle in midfield as England threaten with a series of midfield probes. They are certainly getting quicker ball than the Ireland pack are producing.

"Ireland have been the most inventive, but the usually metronomic O'Gara isn't on form. I'm surprised that the crowd isn't more vocal. Goes to show that England really are still in it."Nowthennathan on 606.

24 mins: England's backs are getting their fair share of the ball and creating a few overlaps though nothing has come of it yet. Ireland defence holding up well.

22 mins: Tommy Bowe nearly works Brian O'Driscoll into space but the ref immediately blows for a forward pass. Close though.

20 mins: Ireland chip behind England and a huge, high bounce hangs in the air. Harry Ellis gathers but doesn't release on the floor and Ireland win the penalty.

But the normally reliable Ronan O'Gara pushes his kick to exasperated cries from the crowd and England escape for a second time.

18 mins: Phil Vickery gets a talking-to for binding on the arm and then does it again at the very next scrum and gets penalised. Doh.

16 mins: Off a quick line-out Ireland scrum-half Tomas O'Leary dinks it over the top and Mark Cueto has to be alert to dive on the ball over his own line with Tommy Bowe breathing down his neck.

"Bono and Edge in the ground, with the amount of BBC coverage I am slightly disappointed that they are not sat on the pundit panel! Ireland by 12 points." Larry Mullen Jr, Cheltenham, via text.

15 mins: "It's like being at Wimbledon at the moment," says BBC commentator Brian Moore. Any guesses what he's talking about? Yep, aerial tennis. The crowd cheers sarcastically when the ball goes into touch to end the tedium.

14 mins: A brief and all too fleeting window of opportunity for England as Riki Flutey gets behind the Ireland line but he can't find any support.

12 mins: England centre Mike Tindall is penalised for not rolling away and Ronan O'Gara steps up to bang over the first points - apart from he drags it left. That's two England penalties already though. Martin Johnson will be watching closely.

9 mins: England defend well and earn a penalty to relieve the pressure but Toby Flood misses touch on the opposite flank. England give away their first penalty for an intentional knock. We're still in the early attritional midfield grinding phase, though, and neither side has moved deep into opposition territory.

7 mins: Mistake from England scrum-half Harry Ellis as his kick goes straight into touch. Ireland build a platform on England's 22 and rumble forward with Paul O'Connell and Stephen Ferris.

5 mins: Early England pressure as Ronan O'Gara screws a kick straight out after being passed the ball outside his 22. It's a thunderous start form both sides - an up-and-under is taken bravely by England's Mark Cueto but in turn he is flattened to approving roars from the home crowd.

3 mins: Fast hands but flat ball for England as they spin it wide right but the ball reaches flanker Joe Worsley and Ireland snuff out the immediate threat.

2 mins: England full-back Delon Armitage gets his first chance for a leg stretch but is shackled in midfield. Some promising signs of early quick ball for England. They win the first penalty as Ireland's hands are in a ruck and Toby Flood pumps the left touchline.

1736: Toby Flood kicks off for England. Donncha O'Callaghan catches and drives on. England regain the ball and move it left but Ireland shepherd them into touch for the first line-out.

1732: Bit late getting under way here. Good rendition of God Save The Queen before Ireland's anthems are belted out. How intimidating must this place be to play in if you're English?

1730: Quick predictions from the BBC pundits - Jonathan Davies: "Ireland to win by nine"; Jeremy Guscott: "Ireland to win by seven"; Keith Wood: "Ireland to win by 11".

1725: England trot out and get into a team huddle in their smart red tracksuit tops. Ireland give them a few minutes and then explode into a sea of green.

"Jeez, that's some roar from the Irish fans as their team enter the fray. If there was a roof over Hill 16, it would have blown off. No boos for the England team, only polite applause. Muhammad Ali fought at Croke Park in 1972... just thought I'd let you know..." BBC Sport's Ben Dirs in Dublin.

By the way, Bono and The Edge from U2 are in the ground.

I think I just saw Martin Johnson humming: "I still haven't found what I'm looking for."

"If England step up to the mark today this will be the most open and exciting Six Nations in years." Lee in York via text.

Agreed Lee. And if England win by a margin of 11, they'll be top of the table. How's that happened?

1719: "Ireland start as favourites but if they don't start well, who knows what could happen." BBC rugby commentator Jonathan Davies.

"England have to go out and test themselves. They have to push themselves to the limit against a really good Irish team."BBC rugby commentator Jeremy Guscott.

1715: So team, we all know what's at stake here. Ireland need to win to keep on track for their first Grand Slam in 61 years. An England victory would make it a four-way tie on four points in the championship table and continue Martin Johnson's side's inching improvement. But we all know what's really important. Victory for victory's sake. Ireland and England fans alike will care nothing for the bigger picture until the dust has settled.

Mind you, last time England were here, they suffered their biggest margin of defeat in the Six Nations. Could do with that being erased.

"It's a great stadium but for us it's just about performance," says Johnson a few minutes before kick-off. "We know we can play better than we did in Cardiff but it's about doing it.

"But they'll be fired up at home. We need a good start. If we can stay with them or ahead that will help. Two years ago is a long time ago."

1710: "That's one of the strangest stadium announcements you'll ever hear: 'Croke Park! Everyone on your feet and let's rock! It's Glen Miller's In The Mood!"BBC Sport blogger Ben Dirs in Dublin.

"I am starting to get very nervous now. England are not as bad as they have been made out to be and certainly have the talent to beat Ireland."Eirebilly on 606.

1700: Over in Dublin, Ireland coach Declan Kidney denies his side are under increased pressure as the only side who can now win the Grand Slam.

"That's for others. All we can do is go out and give it our best shot. If we do that the score will look after itself."Ireland coach Declan Kidney. "Once you're playing England you can't increase the pressure any more. You can't get to three World Cup finals without knowing what you're about."

Sounds relaxed. Unlike former Ireland captain Keith Wood: "I'm nervous. There's too much hype."

Earlier, our man Ben Dirs found himself alone in Dublin. "Wondered why there was no-one here, it's a 5.30 kick-off... still, better than turning up an hour late..."

1655: "It has taken Scotland a long time to catch up professionally, it stands to reason that Italy will too - it is nowhere near the biggest sport in either of these countries. The addition of Italian team to the Magners league will obviously be a big step in the right direction though and with some patience you should eventually see a much more competitive Italy."Redrage19 on 606.

80 mins: The home crowd urge their side on for one more score to dissect on the way home/to the pub and flying wing Thom Evans makes a promising break but Italy hang on to him. Phil Godman's chip ahead is the last gambit but Italy kick the ball out and the whistle goes.

"Frank Hadden will be a mightily relieved man but it's depression again for Italy. It gets tougher and tougher for them." BBC rugby commentator Lawrence Dallaglio. "Winning becomes a habit and unfortunately so does losing."

"It feels great to be at Murrayfield getting a win and we fully deserved it," says man of the match Simon Danielli.

"The forwards were really good today and gave the back some space."

"Scotland would have taken a 6-3 win but there have not been many smiles on faces at Murrayfield for a while and that will have given the crowd a big smile. We're not going to get ahead of ourselves but it's a start."Former Scotland captain Andy Nicol.

78 mins: "It's so frustrating to see Italy just not improving game after game, year after year. Why is this? Does anybody have any clue? Really disappointed."Azzurrissimo on 606.

76 mins: Mauro Bergamasco is cruelly denied a try by the bounce of the ball. The impressive Sergio Parisse's flick puts him into space and he chips ahead. A kindly bounce would have seen him crash over but the ball darts sideways, agonisingly out of his grasp with the line beckoning.

73 mins: Chris Cusiter makes another darting run as the crowd are jolted into some late roars. But Scott Gray messes up a promising Simon Danielli move as he is penalised for crossing. Another Scottish score is on the cards.

72 mins: A muted atmosphere around Murrayfield now as spectators and players alike know the game is up. Scotland will be hoping for a last score or two to build some momentum for Ireland. But wait...pacy prop Alasdair Dickinson hares upfield and offloads to Chris Cusiter, who is dragged down on the line by Mirco Bergamasco.

70 mins: All of a sudden Italy string a few phases of possession together and look the most composed they've been all game.

69 mins: This just in from our man in Dublin Ben Dirs, 45 minutes ahead of kick-off: "The strains of God Save The Queen roll down Dorset Street as the band practice their anthems... who'd have thought that would ever happen a few years back? Not much bullish chat about Ireland's chances in the pub last night, most of them seem to think England might put one over them..."

66 mins: PENALTY Scotland 26-6 Italy

Italian spirits are clearly on the wane and they are penalised again for not rolling away. Scotland opt to kick the three points, which enrages BBC rugby commentator Lawrence Dallaglio. "The game's won. The only person that is going to interest is Chris Paterson."

He might be right, as the crowd boo. But what do points make?

64 mins: Almost a Tartan try-fest. From the restart, Simon Danielli races clear down the right wing and looks certain to score but a cracking cover tackle from Luke McLean nudges his foot into touch. He also spills the ball as he reaches for the line, but the third official spots the touch.

61 mins: TRY Scotland 23-6 Italy

From Max Evans' break, the ball is recycled through Simon Danielli to Thom Evans, who squirms to within a yard of the line before offloading to Scott Gray to dive over. Chris Paterson adds the conversion.

58 mins: A stat flashes on the screen that the two teams have kicked possession away 31 times each. Says a lot about the ambition and imagination on show. When Italy do try to channel the ball wide, it's all a bit predictable and Scotland just guide them across the pitch.

Scotland do liven up the crowd, though, when Max Evans injects a bit of pace into the line and gets Scotland in behind the Italian defence.

54 mins: PENALTY Scotland 16-6 Italy

Scotland captain Mike Blair gets a talking to on behalf of his team for not rolling away and hands in the ruck once too often.

Luke McLean grabs the cheap three points on offer and Italy may rue not kicking the last two penalties. Dull, but it's all about keeping the scoreboard ticking over chaps.

Scott Gray is on for open-side flanker John Barclay for Scotland.

49 mins: Italy get another penalty as Scotland go off their feet preventing the ruck. Italy's Mauro Bergamasco throws a bit of a strop towards Alastair Kellock for preventing a quick tap and gets a telling off from the ref. "You'd look a bit silly if this penalty was reversed, wouldn't you?"

It isn't, and Italy again go for the corner. From the line-out they fling the ball wide to the left. Scottish defence remains firm for now.

"Italy are trying to be positive but it just doesn't suit them," says BBC rugby commentator Lawrence Dallaglio. "For all their territory and possession Italy are not making an impact on the scoreboard and that's where it matters."

47 mins: Scotland number eight Simon Taylor is pinged for not rolling away but Italy's Luke McLean opts to go for the corner rather than a long-range penalty.

Scotland bring on Chris Paterson for full-back Hugo Southwell.

43 mins: Phil Godman is showing signs of bossing the show a bit for Scotland and pins Italy back in their own 22 for a line-out. But Scotland are penalised for collapsing the maul illegally and Italy get a penalty to clear their lines.

"Did nobody else see the forward pass to put Danielli through?" Ross Mc via text.

41 mins: Italy get the second half under way at Murrayfield and rumble into the Scotland territory. How much of an effect will Nick Mallet's team talk have? Well, they look pumped up, and left wing Matteo Pratichetti almost wriggles around his opposite number on the outside.

40 mins: Mike Blair runs out the clock by shepherding the ball in his own in-goal area following a long, speculative kick from Italy.

It has been far from spectacular but Scotland have compiled a patient and ultimately professional half of rugby to lead by 13 points. Italy have the commitment but seem to lack the accuracy, discipline and composure to really threaten.

"Not a great 1st half of rugby but at least Scotland managed to score a try. The try showed that Scotland do have the ability run the ball, I am not sure why they don't do that more often." Eirebilly on 606.

37 mins: Italy win a lengthy penalty on the halfway line and Andrea Marcato steps up to have a thump. It might just have been long enough, but it's a touch wide.

34 mins: Try Scotland 16-3 Italy

Scotland sniff an opening as Simon Danielli gets the ball and chips ahead. He is impeded and goes to ground and ref Nigel Owens pipes up, "Any more of that and he'll be off to drama school."

Danielli, though, makes amends as he takes a cute inside ball from Graeme Morrison in an intricate move off a quick line-out on the right and roars over for the game's first try.Phil Godman slots the conversion and it's turning into a promising afternoon for Frank Hadden's men.

33 mins: "Where is that form and passion that Scotland showed against France?"Eiriebilly on 606.

"Compared to the France-Wales game last night, this is schoolboy stuff. Roll on England-Ireland..."Dudepod45 on 606.

Anyone sense they're not exactly riveted?

30 mins: PENALTY Scotland 9-3 Italy

Phil Godman breaks his mini-voodoo (OK, he's only missed one but Chris Paterson hit two in his eight minutes on the park) gets on the scoreboard as Scotland edge a little further clear from another Italian transgression.

27 mins: Scotland appear to have listened to Lawrence Dallaglio's urgings and build patiently, edging deep into Italian territory. But Italy are also tuned in, and carefully snuff out the attack.

"Blair far from his best again today. Kellock acting like a proper leader after the front row won as that penalty, patted them all on the back for the hard work. Not enough leaders for Scotland recently, it's good to see." Redrage19 on 606.

26 mins: "There's a certain amount of urgency in what Scotland are doing. They were quite good in parts against France. But they just need to maintain their composure and go through the phases to apply the pressure." BBC rugby commentator Lawrence Dallaglio.

23 mins: Italy almost undo all their good work as they hand Scotland a penalty. Phil Godman, though, is not Chris Paterson and pushes his kick right.

"He won't want to do too many more of those otherwise the crowd will be calling for Paterson to come back." BBC rugby commentator Lawrence Dallaglio.

20 mins: DROP-GOAL Scotland 6-3 Italy.

Flashback to 2007 as Scotland's Hugo Southwell is intercepted and Mirco Bergamasco strides out towards the line. He is scragged by some frantic Scottish defence but as Italy recycle the ball, Sergio Parisse hits an ugly but effective drop-goal.

18 mins: Italy keep pressing and find some open space with Gonzalo Canale. He fumbles it but Sergio Parisse pressures Mike Blair into fumbling as he tries to clear. Scrum to Scotland on their 22. The home side have been penned in their half for some time now.

17 mins: The Azzurri are their own worst enemies at times and are penalised for the front-row coming up. Scotland clear their lines and Italy waste a good chance.

15 mins: Italy get a good position when Aussie-turned-Italian Luke McLean finesses a kick over the top into Scotland's 22 for a line-out on the left. Scotland hooker Ross Ford's throw is ruled not straight and Italy get an attacking scrum 10 yards out.

9 mins: PENALTY Scotland 6-0 Italy.

Scotland move the ball quickly off the top of a line-out on the right but the Italian defence holds them in midfield. The Scots snipe around the ruck and Chris Paterson boots into the 22. Italy return the kick and Scotland come forward again. Italy give away another penalty as Santiago Dellape is judged to have come in from the side and then gone off his feet. It's a tight angle but Paterson slots the kick from the left.

"That's 709 points in his 93rd cap," says BBC rugby commentator Andrew Cotter. "But now his little cameo is over."

Phil Godman is patched up and comes back on for Paterson.

7 mins: The Italians come again after more good work from the pack. The backs look up for it and eager, but maybe they need to temper their enthusiasm as a forward pass messes up the move.

6 mins: Italy make the first meaningful break of the game as Gonzalo Canale wriggles through but is dragged down yards before the try-line. But Italy knock on and Scotland get the put-in at the first scrum, with Mike Blair clearing.

3 mins: PENALTY Scotland 3-0 Italy.

Scotland earn the first kickable penalty for an Italian forward playing the ball on the ground.

"This indiscipline is something that Italy must cut out if they are to have any chance today," BBC rugby commentator Lawrence Dallaglio.

As we wait for the kick, Phil Godman comes off clutching his eye. Chris Paterson comes on in his place, though it might just be a blood replacement. Gonzalo Garcia is off for Italy.

Paterson's first touch, other than placing the ball, is to slot the penalty from the right.

2 mins: Italy's line-out comes to no avail and Scotland mount a sort of mini-counter without really countering. A bit of kicking tennis ensues and we return to a line-out on the right as ref Nigel Owens stops to fix his mic.

1 min: So what was that about discipline? Scotland give away an early penalty just inside Italy's half. Luke McLean (he's Italian you know) finds a good touch on the right on Scottish 22.

1500: Here we go then. Phil Godman kicks off for Scotland in white shirts, with Italy in their Azzurri blue.

1455: Murrayfield takes on its traditional pre-match hue, with smoke from the firework display drifting around the ground. Pipers entertain the tartan or green, white and red clad crowd before the rousing Italian anthem shrills around the rafters. The drums beat as Flower of Scotland pipes up and the home hordes find their voice to take the song on as the music ceases.

1450: Scotland lost by an Andrea Mercato drop-goal inside the last 10 seconds in Rome last year but coach Frank Hadden denies he is feeling the heat: "I don't feel under any more pressure today than I did 10 years ago. If you get involved in that kind of sideshow you lose your focus and if you lose your focus you've had it."

Eirebilly on 606 says: "After seeing Scotland's performance against France two weeks ago I feel that they do have enough to win."

I'll tell Frank.

Here's the teams then.

Scotland: Hugo Southwell; Simon Danielli, Max Evans, Graeme Morrison, Thom Evans; Phil Godman, Mike Blair (capt); Simon Taylor, John Barclay, Alasdair Strokosch; Alastair Kellock, Jason White; Euan Murray, Ross Ford, Allan Jacobsen

Replacements: Dougie Hall, Alasdair Dickinson, Kelly Brown, Scott Gray, Chris Cusiter, Chris Paterson, Nick de Luca

Italy: Andrea Marcato; Mirco Bergamasco, Gonzalo Canale, Gonzalo Garcia, Matteo Pratichetti; Luke McLean, Paul Griffen; Sergio Parisse (capt), Mauro Bergamasco, Alessandro Zanni; Marco Bortolami, Santiago Dellape; Martin Castrogiovanni, Leonardo Ghiraldini, Salvatore Perugini.

Replacements: Franco Sbaraglini, Carlos Nieto, Carlo Antonio Del Fava, Josh Sole, Pablo Canavosio, Andrea Bacchetti, Giulio Rubini.

Referee: Nigel Owens (WAL)

1445: The discipline thing is the main subject of the TV build-up this afternoon with questions put to Martin Johnson on England's hefty penalty count. Johnno is philosophical and says sometimes you fall the wrong side of decisions. He denies England need stronger onfield leaders to "control the ref". "That's a bit of a myth that those guys [probably including himself] had any effect," he says. But you know in private there will have been significant words in this area.

"England need to play a quick game within the laws of the game. If they do that the referee can't touch them." BBC rugby commentator Jeremy Guscott on BBC One.

1440: If you're Irish or English, today's main course isn't served until 1730, though you can whet your appetite with Scotland v Italy.

But if you're a Scot or Azzurri follower, the action at Murrayfield is no trifling starter. Both sides will be desperate to get off the mark and record a first Six Nations win on the scoreboard this season. Signs don't look good for Frank Hadden's side, though - Italy are targeting a hat-trick of wins and ran in four tries last time they were at Murrayfield.

As ever, discipline is the watchword, as it will be in Dublin later.

Scotland captain Mike Blair said this week: "A lot of the mistakes we are making are down to individual errors and it's not something we're being coached to do.

"The players are accountable for what they do on the pitch - coaches don't teach you to drop the ball.

"Unfortunately, that's something that happens with pressure and as players we've got to improve."

Linebreaker on 606 has got in with an early prediction: "Ireland will get up in a close one at home. 21-18. Scotland 33 Italy 16."

Just for gags and giggles, I'll plump for Scotland 25-19 Italy and Ireland 33-23 England.

1430: Afternoon, rugby fans and welcome to the second day of this Six Nations weekend. So how are we all? Recovered from the ravages of the first ever Friday night game? Did you fill your boots, safe in the knowledge that you had two full days to recover before Monday comes around again? (or one, with a double headache, if you're team is up today).

Can't say I was a big fan of the idea when it was first mooted, Friday night Six Nations that is. But I reckon I've changed my mind. And anything's better than playing on a Sunday. Which clown's idea was that?

Sure, it's a bit of an inconvenience if you're away and have to take the day off work/school/college/lying around. But hey, life's an adventure, right? Take my Beeb colleague Tom Fordyce and his crazy Welsh chums as a shining example, with their madcap dash on bikes from Cardiff to Paris.

So anyway, on to today. Let's have all your chat on 606 or via text on 81111 (with RUGBYU as the first word) and I'll use as many contributions as I can. Let's rock.

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see also
Ireland 14-13 England
28 Feb 09 |  Rugby Union
Scotland 26-6 Italy
28 Feb 09 |  Scottish
Hadden upbeat about title chance
28 Feb 09 |  Scottish
Scotland v Italy photos
28 Feb 09 |  Rugby Union
Scotland v Italy match stats
28 Feb 09 |  Rugby Union
France 21-16 Wales
27 Feb 09 |  Rugby Union
Jeremy Guscott column
27 Feb 09 |  Rugby Union
Six Nations guide 2009
28 Jan 09 |  Rugby Union

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