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Page last updated at 14:01 GMT, Saturday, 20 March 2010

Six Nations as it happened

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By Ben Dirs

2152: Right, the time has come to say goodbye. It's been lovely as usual, see you next year.

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happyjenny on 606: "I'd like to say how nice it was to see Mike Tindall back, he played really well, and what a difference he made to the team."

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"Absolutely dreadful refereeing in the France v England match. We were up for the game but never had the opportunity. He should be ashamed."
From Charlotte, Kent, via text on 81111

2143: Funny old Championship really, as most Championships seem to be. France looked genuinely world-class for much of it, before looking very ordinary in the final game. England looked ordinary for much of it, before looking pretty good in the final game. Scotland could have won four, but only won one. Wales threw it about a bit, but don't have much to show for it. Are Ireland actually that good? And for Italy, well, it was more of the same.

2139: France are presented with their medals, before Thierry Dusatoir holds aloft the Championship trophy and the celebrations begin.

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Sam on 606: "England can hold their heads high. We played the better rugby, apart from 20 minutes in the first half where France took advantage of England's indiscipline. A shame, because France never looked like scoring and England could have had three."

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tafer on 606: "Well done France, you deserved to win the Championship, although you probably didn't deserve to win the Grand Slam as England were the better team today."


2131: First Grand Slam since 2004 for France, their third of the Six Nations era and their ninth overall. Hugely committed performance from England though, and as Jeremy Guscott has just pointed out on the telly, the spark came from the reconstructed England back three. Still not sure about that Tindall substitution though...

FULL-TIME: France 12-10 England Foden knock-on as England look to go wide, and eventually Parra gets the ball into touch and that's the France Grand Slam.

80 mins: England win the penalty with 30 seconds remaining, and Wilkinson kicks for the line-out... only 15-20 yards made though, not much chance of knocking over a drop-goal from there...

78 mins: Trinh-Duc steps a tackle before bringing the ball clear. Malzieu makes more ground, and he earns France a penalty. That looks like that to me - France almost up to the England 22, only a couple of minutes to run down...

77 mins: Palmer with a hefty hit, but France retain the ball. Jauzion rides a couple of big hits, and it looks like France will be keeping it tight until the final whistle... no, a change of tactics and Trinh-Duc chips through... England clear, France win it back...

75 mins: France on the charge at scrum-time, but it's desperately slow ball. You'd have to think they'll be looking for the drop-goal soon, but they keep it tight and knock-on. "She's very committed," says Rafa Ibanez, "but she's not my mother-in-law after tonight..."

73 mins: Rock-solid French scrum just outside England's 22. Poitrenaud with the Campese goosestep but he loses the ball in the tackle. Care with the clearance, and that's not a great kick from Poitrenaud, who's gone right off the boil since the break.


70 mins: France creaking badly now, as Poitrenaud is struck down with whisky fingers. Replay of Johnson's reaction to that Wilko penalty, take that Ibanez's mother-in-law. Foden with a quick throw, but it's called not straight. Think that was a correct call, although neither the referee or the linesman were anywhere near the incident.

68 mins: PENALTY France 12-10 England England earn a penalty way out right and between the French 10m line and halfway. What a kick from Wilkinson, massive in every respect...

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"What a joke. Tindall has been England's best player today. He's always been making ground and smashing the French back line. Johnson's got it wrong AGAIN."
From Anon, text 81111

66 mins: Foden with the garryowen, and no-one can claim it for France. England, without a shadow of a doubt, have been the better team in this second half. England's backs run it through hands, but Wilkinson is wrapped up and France win the scrum. Fine catch from Cueto, England's back three have impressed this evening. Probing kick from Wilkinson, and England end up with a line-out on the 22. Tait with the half-break, but France nick it and Szarzewski brings it clear...

63 mins: The BBC's Sonja McLaughlan reports that Mike Tindall said "he didn't want to go off" as he passed her on the touch-line. Interesting. England with a chance - Cueto with the break, the ball is shovelled to Care, but the England scrum-half loses the ball in the tackle. On comes Wilkinson for Flutey, Flood switches to 12...

61 mins: Replacement hooker William Servat coughs the ball up in the tackle, as there is a suggestion Wilkinson might be introduced into the fray. Easter with his left peg, not a bad kick that, France line-out on the 10m line. Chabal on for Pierre in the second row for France, as Ashton shows some football skills... but it comes to nowt.

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Tom Fordyce in Paris on Twitter: "Rain enough to get ark-builders fingering their slide-rules. Who's got the sticky fingers and stout hearts for this?"

57 mins: France make changes - Poux is on in the front row. England have the territorial advantage so far in the second half, 62-38 the stat. Poor kick from Trinh-Duc, and Palmer shrugs off a couple of tackles, but then loses the ball. Marty straight through the middle, and Poitrenaud over-runs when he might have been away and under the posts.

55 mins: France putting phases together, Trinh-Duc in the pocket getting ready for the three-pointer... Parra goes drastically off-message, sticking up an up-and-under which nobody else reads. Odd. Apologies to Martin Johnson, Tindall is being wrapped up in ice, so it looks like he's injured.

53 mins: Line-out bang on halfway, and Palmer taps back to Care. Tindall makes ground again, before Moody gets an absolute beasting from Dusatoir. That has to be one of the strangest substitutions I've ever seen - Tait on for Tindall, England's best player so far...

51 mins: France 12-7 England Mathew Tait looks like he's coming on, although surely not for Mike Tindall, who's been belligerent so far. Fine take from Trinh-Duc, but Jauzion loses the ball on the halfway line. Bastareaud is off, replaced by David Marty - he scored two against Italy last week.

49 mins: Cueto runs a kick back, before Ashton finds himself in acres of space and with all around him... and he chooses to kick. Palisson covers, and that's a crystal clear chance gone begging. England all over France so far in this second half, although as I type that the ball is turned over.

47 mins: France burgle the line-out, in the proper sense because that was illegal. Bastareaud and Tindall collide in midfield and entire species are wiped out as a result. Clever kick from Care, France line-out a couple of metres out. England steal after Harinordoquy claims, and Wilson goes on the barrel out right. England going backwards though as someone pulls the chain again up above. Drop-goal attempt from Flood, but he yanks it wide.

44 mins: Ruthless from Johnson - not only is Dan Cole off, Dylan Hartley is off for Steve Thompson. Palisson is half charged down after a kick through by Cueto, as Brian Moore picks out three offences that referee Bryce Lawrence failed to spot. France bring the ball clear, but it's slow ball and Parra opts to kick.

41 mins: It turns out that blonde woman flicking V-signs at Johnno is Rafa Ibanez's mother-in-law! I bet you Rafa's never forgotten his wife's birthday, her mother is what you might ball a 'brisant de boule'. Pardon my French. Dan Cole is off, replaced by David Wilson. Big call from Johnson, we're back under way...

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Tom Fordyce in Paris on Twitter: "Ominous signs for England. Scrum struggling, coughing up possession, going too lateral..."

HALF-TIME: France 12-7 England Flutey makes ground down the left, but Hartley goes sideways before knocking on. France go left and Bastareaud manages to re-gather after a juggle... that's half-time. Very encouraging start for England, France have slowly taken control as the half wore on.

39 mins: England have stalled after rather a liquid start, is it possible the rain doesn't suit their free-flowing, cavalier style of play? La Marseillaise starts up, a full version of it, as Lionel Nallet rather throws a blanket on their fire by knocking on.

37 mins: France haven't really been made to work too hard for this lead, it's largely down to English indiscretions. Moody at the back of the line-out, and although he's taken out England retain the ball. Flood switches with Tindall, who's looked a better fit than Tait so far. England string phases together, but eventually give away a penalty and Palisson kicks for the corner.

35 mins: PENALTY France 12-7 England France look to be settling now, and that's a great take from Bonnaire at the line-out. France penalty, Cole pinged for collapsing, although I'm not sure it's his fault, he had two very large men folding on top of him. Whatever, Parra kicks the three-pointer.

32 mins: France penalty, Hartley coming in from the side, and Palisson gives it some hammer. France penalty, Cole not binding, and Palisson is called up for the kick to the corner...

30 mins: Penalty England and Flood finds a good touch, England line-out 10m out, but France burgle it and clear. Domingo and Parra appear to have collided, we've got a break in play after Ashton puts in a beefy clearance kick.

28 mins: Care with a little kick and chase, but Harinordoquy deals with it well and Andreu kicks for a probing touch. Care with the box kick but Andreu is an elusive little eel, and he somehow manages to wriggle out of Ashton's grasp. Cueto with the half-break, Care is charged down, and Poitrenaud finds a safe touch. It's all got a bit rainforest out there.

25 mins: PENALTY France 9-7 England Hartley receiving attention now, as England defuse a spell of French pressure. The England hooker is OK. Scratch that, England's scrum disintegrates and they give away a penalty. Looked like an early drive though... Parra doesn't mind, France ahead again as the rain comes down in sheets.

19 mins: PENALTY France 6-7 England Sorry, my computer crashed - in my absence, Bastareaud is taken down by Tindall, who's is all over his opposite man like bubble-wrap, but Flutey is pinged for being off his feet. Parra slots his second penalty from bang in front. That woman sitting in front of Martin Johnson wants to watch herself, she could find herself engaged in a spot of knuckles if she carries on celebrating like that.

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Xenosys2005 on 606: "Have to say, really impressive start from England. Hopefully they can keep this up for 80 minutes. France aren't looking quite as comfortable as they have been now that they've been put under pressure through quick ball."

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Tom Fordyce in Paris on Twitter: "Foden! Dives into same corner that Josh Lewsey scored in in the World Cup semi here two years ago. You don't think..."

17 mins: Servat the hooker on the burrow, but England's defence is stout so far. Dusatoir goes left, but it's lateral and Domingo is pulled into touch.

15 mins: High ball, Poitrenaud under it and Cueto comes off worse after a diabolical collision. He's OK though, and somehow England have a penalty, despite Simon Shaw appearing to dive right over the top. Aaah, hang on, the penalty has been reversed, and that looks like his game over, Tom Palmer of Stade Francais comes on.

14 mins: Flood under the high ball and he skips past a couple of tackles, pretty poor ones to be honest, before knocking on. Blame the rain for that one. Poitrenaud sends a couple of tacklers the wrong way, before Trinh-Duc hems England in with a nice threaded kick to touch.

12 mins: France stuttering with ball in hand and Andreu is hauled down by opposite number Ashton. Worry over Simon Shaw, but he looks to have recovered. Strike that, he's going off... hang on, he's insisting he's staying on. I'll keep you posted. France penalty, England off-side at the ruck, but Parra is well off-beam as the rain comes down like stair rods.

9 mins: A stolen line-out for England. England switch through Flood before Tindall comes on the crash. Cole is tackled well, but Flutey shows great hands to release Cueto... not sure why Cueto kicked there... Ashton under the high ball, and that's a naughty little skip to evade a tackle... bright start from England, playing with some freedom.

Try graphic
6 min: TRY France 3-7 England England hit back immediately - Flood with the miss pass, Flutey and Ashton with quick hands and Foden is in in the left-hand corner. Cracking off-load from Ashton under pressure, the new boys shining. Flood slots the extras from out wide, that's some start from England.

5 min: DROP-GOAL France 3-0 England Harinordoquy takes the quick tap penalty, and the ball ends up with Trinh-Duc who scuttles a drop-goal over from 30m out.

3 min: Foden gets his hands on it, sticks sit back down the middle before Trinh-Duc makes touch deep into England territory - first decent boot of the match so far. Not straight from Hartley, France with the put-in.

1 min: Toby Flood to kick off, and it ricochets around before coming back on the England side. England go left, before Bastareaud puts a big hit on Flutey - bit cheap that, no arms involved.

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Tom Fordyce in Paris on Twitter: "Teams being announced. Biggest roar for... 'arinordoquy. Jonny Wilkinson gets a rather different response."

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Candre on 606: "For me France are good but not great - overrated and benefitting from a lot of luck in previous matches. If England can raise their game and put pressure on France then with a good referee England could win by a few."

1942: Lewis Moody leading his men out for the first time tonight, and here they come, spat out of the tunnel into the Stade de France cauldron. Quite some atmosphere in Paris. "On paper France are 15 points better than England," says Jeremy Guscott on BBC One, "but England can rise to this..."

1937: Haha! Sorry, I should have said France won Grand Slams in 1998 and 2002 below... it's been a long day already. I hope England can make me smile... just a little bit... is that asking for too much?

France: 15-Clement Poitrenaud, 14-Marc Andreu, 13-Mathieu Bastareaud, 12-Yannick Jauzion, 11-Alexis Palisson, 10-Francois Trinh-Duc, 9-Morgan Parra; 1-Thomas Domingo, 2-William Servat, 3-Nicolas Mas, 4-Lionel Nallet, 5-Julien Pierre, 6-Thierry Dusautoir, 7-Julien Bonnaire, 8-Imanol Harinordoquy. Replacements: 16-Dimitri Szarzewski, 17-Jean-Baptiste Poux, 18-Sebastien Chabal, 19-Alexandre Lapandry, 20-Dimitri Yachvili, 21-David Marty, 22-Julien Malzieu

England: 15-Ben Foden 14-Mark Cueto, 13-Mike Tindall, 12-Riki Flutey, 11-Chris Ashton, 10-Toby Flood, 9-Danny Care; 1-Tim Payne, 2-Dylan Hartley, 3-Dan Cole, 4-Simon Shaw , 5-Louis Deacon, 6-Joe Worsley, 7-Lewis Moody, 8-Nick Easter. Replacements: 16-Steve Thompson, 17-David Wilson , 18-Tom Palmer, 19-James Haskell, 20-Ben Youngs, 21-Jonny Wilkinson, 22-Mathew Tait.

1931: It will be interesting to see Northampton's Chris Ashton in action today. he switched codes from Wigan Warriors in 2007 and has been in red-hot try-scoring form this season, with 12 tries so far, five more than the next man.

1929: "How do you tackle Mathieu Bastareaud?" asks the BBC's Sonja McLaughlan. "The same way you tackle any prop," replies England centre Mike Tindall. Apparently there is a huge chunk missing from the official programme because the French federation thought an article about England's style of play was inflammatory. It can't have been anything that hasn't been written in the English press before...

1922: Many thanks Pranav. Here's a Stat Attack: England must score 31 points to avoid registering their lowest ever Six Nations points tally (108 in 2008); the last three Lions tours have been followed by French Championship wins, including Grand Slams in 2001 and 2002; this is the 93rd meeting between the sides: England lead the series 50-35, with seven draws.

By Pranav Soneji

1919: Right, that's it from me - Ben Dirs will be your shepherd for the Grand Slam climax at the Stade de France. Bonne nuit.

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Tom Fordyce from Paris on Twitter: "A lone trumpeter parps the Marseillais. Resists the urge to lend it jazz stylings. Joe Worsley last man back into the tunnel for England."


1912: Thoroughly deserved win for Scotland, although Declan Kidney will be seething to see the so-called best line-out in the northern hemisphere unravel at the worst possible moment. The victory also confirms France are Six Nations champions for 2010 - their fifth title since the inception of the tournament.


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"Scotland's win confirms what we already know, Scotland have the potential but need the luck. Today we got the luck and it's a great time to be a Scot. Bring on the autumn Tests!"
From Anon, text 81111

"We got a bit of luck at the end of the game but Dan landed a great kick. The guys are hurting, they are tired but they deserve the plaudits for this win."
Scotland coach Andy Robinson on BBC One

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hawick on 606: "Oh wonderful, magic heaven. If ever a season's efforts deserved this finale, it was this Scotland team. They've given so much for so little all season. I have been Parks' biggest critic at times, especially last season. He has matured into a wonderful player."

"It feels fantastic, I think we have deserved a lot more than we have got from this championship. We came here to spoil the party and we've certainly done that. It's going to be a good night."
Man of the match Dan Parks on BBC One

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Give me 7 on 606: "That was absolutely breath-taking rugby by Scotland. No more than they deserved. They should have beaten a woeful England, they were unlucky to have faced a brilliant Welsh storm in the second half and they are looking every bit the team to watch in the future."

FULL TIME: IRELAND 20-23 SCOTLAND

80 minutes: Ireland tick down the clock with slow possession at the breakdown, allowing Mike Blair to kick high into the stands once the referee confirms 80 minutes are up. Cue huge scenes of celebrations following only Scotland's second victory in Dublin since 1998 and only Ireland's fourth defeat at Croke Park in four years.

79 minutes: PENALTY Ireland 20-23 Scotland A howler from Rob Kearney, who collects a clearance kick inside his own 22m line, but is quickly scragged by the onrushing Simon Danielli and Nick de Luca. And the Leinster full-back is penalised for not releasing the ball on the floor, allowing Dan Parks to line up quite possibly the final scoring opportunity of the match inches from the left-hand touchline. And he's only gone and thumped it over! What an awesome, potentially wooden spoon-avoiding kick that was!

75 minutes: PENALTY Ireland 20-20 Scotland Keith Earls sprints towards Scotland's tryline, but referee Jonathan Kaplan spots an earlier forward pass in the build-up. However, Ronan O'Gara is handed another opportunity to level the scores after Euan Murray is penalised for having his head below waist level at the hit in the scrum. And O'Gara duly obliges with a well-struck kick to send the flags a fluttering.

73 minutes: PENALTY Ireland 17-20 Scotland Woeful drop-goal attempt from Dan Parks, but turns out Ireland are penalised for offside, allowing the Aussie-born fly-half to line up a very kickable three points straight in front of the posts. And he duly obliges, despite the muted jeers in the crowd. Hold on to your hats people, we're in for a cracking finale.


68 minutes: Bit of handbags from Euan Murray after an altercation with opposite number Cian Healey following a collapsed scrum. However, Healey is penalised for something as Scotland take the free-kick and surge into Irish territory.

Try graphic
64 minutes: TRY Ireland 17-17 Scotland It had to happen - after a period of sustained Irish pressure in Scotland's 22m line, winger Tommy Bowe touches down this third try of the tournament - the 14th from his 30th Test appearances - despite the defensive attentions of full-back Hugo Southwell wide on the right wing. And Ronan O'Gara immediately justifies his introduction with a stunning conversion about a yard in from the touchline. What a ripper to say goodbye to Croke Park.

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Monty on 606: "Is it me or is this game flying by? I don't want it to end. I dare say watching 80 minutes of Johnson's misfits playing will seem more like 80 days."

58 minutes: Ireland's line-out is about as effective as an underwater hairdryer this afternoon. They lose their fifth on their own throw as Scotland capitalise on Rory Best's wayward throw and earn a penalty about 45m from the posts. But Dan Parks lacks the required welly necessary to extend the lead to 10 points once more.

54 minutes: O'Gara takes over from Sexton at the re-start, while Chris Cusiter is replaced by Mike Blair. Meanwhile, Scotland's back-pedalling defence is stretched this way and that as Ireland sniff the tryline in search of a score-levelling try. It almost comes as D'Arcy surges for the line, but a brilliant tackle from Sean Lamont, followed by an enterprising turnover, sees Scotland clear up to the 22m line.

The Six Nations may be Europe's premier rugby union tournament but there has been plenty of action elsewhere this weekend, including a vital game in Turkey which has had ramifications for three of the Home Nations in the 2011 World Cup. Georgia beat Russia 36-8 on neutral ground in Trabzon to wrap up the European Nations Cup title - the tournament is effectively the division below the Six Nations. The victory means Georgia join Scotland and England in Pool B in New Zealand, while Russia, who finish second, go into Pool C alongside Ireland and the USA.

50 minutes: PENALTY Ireland 10-17 Scotland Awesome effort from Ireland's front eight, who advance a good 20m with a well-worked rolling maul towards Scotland's 22m line. Almost inevitably, the Scottish forwards are penalised. A huge roar erupts around Croke Park as Ronan O'Gara bounces on the touchline, seemingly set to take over at 10, but Jonathan Sexton takes the kick - and only just lands the three points. Game very much on.

46 minutes: PENALTY Ireland 7-17 Scotland Jim Hamilton steals a line-out on Ireland's throw, allowing Sean Lamont to steam through the opposition defence with an aggressive 30m run. The green shirts infringe as they attempt to stymie the nascent attack, allowing Dan Parks to stretch Scotland's lead to 10 points from 40m in front of the sticks. Scotland are excellent value for their lead.

41 minutes: Bit of a shocker from Jonathan Sexton, who misses what should be a relatively straightforward penalty kick from the left side from 35m, missing the left-hand post by a decent distance. On the bench Ireland have Ronan O'Gara, who has a 100% success rate in this tournament so far with nine out of nine kicks.

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"That's a great 40 minutes from both sides. Scotland have done everything I wanted them to do, thrown it about a bit, and that was very street-wise rugby at the end, going phase after phase and dropping the goal for a seven-point lead at the break. I was worried early on, if some of those Ireland passes had stuck, we would have been in real trouble."
Former Scotland captain Andy Nicol on BBC One

1759: We're off - second half well and truly under way.

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Pickles91 on 606: "Scotland have been really unlucky this Six Nations. Let's be honest - they should have beat Wales and England, shame really because they deserve the Triple Crown. Yet they may end up with three defeats to the home nations. Strange strange game is rugby."

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"One of the issues for Ireland is that guys are having a go who shouldn't be. They're going for scores, but you have to play first and there have been handling errors that have put them under pressure. The guys are trying to play, but if you just run the ball straight to 15 all the time, you're forcing it too early, I'd like a bit more contact."
Former Ireland captain Keith Wood on BBC One


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Monty on 606: "Fantastic game so far. Flowing and full of passion. Scotland are good value for their lead."

HALF-TIME: IRELAND 7-14 SCOTLAND

40 minutes: DROP-GOAL Ireland 7-14 Scotland Forget counting down the final seconds, Scotland surge into Irish territory with a series of powerful bursts from their lionhearted forwards, allowing Dan Parks to sink a perfect drop-goal from 35m, he's celebrating before the ball sails over the bar. Sensational stuff, form book right out of the window.


39 minutes: Chris Cusiter bellows "how long?" at referee Kaplan before spinning out a pass to Parks, whose garryowen is spilled by the onrushing Rob Kearney, handing Scotland the perfect opportunity to eat the remaining minute of the half with the following scrum.

38 minutes: PENALTY Ireland 7-11 Scotland Over it goes as Dan Parks adds his second penalty from the right of the posts.

37 minutes: Scotland's scrum is looking menacing, resetting the set-piece after referee Kaplan penalises Ireland for breaching one of the myriad of front-row legislations. Another firm Scotland scrum sees the tourists sniffing around about 10m from the tryline. And O'Callaghan is penalised for not rolling away from the tackle, handing Dan Parks the opportunity to extend the lead to four points some three minutes before the interval.

33 minutes: Smart passing sees Johnnie Beattie charge up Scotland's right wing into Ireland's 22m. Cusiter spins the ball wide and sees Donncha O'Callaghan knock on as he attempts to pounce on a loose ball.

30 minutes: Sexton squanders an opportunity about 45m out after Scotland are pinged by referee Kaplan, but the Leinster number 10 doesn't quite enough welly on his kick. Not the best reaction from the Crokers.

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"How come nobody saw that the Ireland try was a forward pass? Where are the linesmen?"
From Anon via text 81111


28 minutes: Chris Cuister's tenacious scraggings at the back of the scrum infringe the offside law, allowing Sexton to clear deep within Scotland's 22m territory. However, more decent defence from Scotland as Southwell clears to the half-way line.

25 minutes: Scotland successfully weather a sustained period of Irish pressure as Hugo Southwell thumps a clever left-footed clearance kick deep into Ireland territory. The ball rolls into touch, much to the chagrin of the Croke Park faithful. On comes Rob Kearney for Geordan Murphy at full-back - seems the Leicester man has a niggle he cannot shake.

21 minutes: Scotland are by no means hanging on here - their scrum is looking as solid as a week-old hot cross bun. However, Jonathan Sexton clears up to Scotland's 22m line after the visitors are penalised for not releasing on the floor.

Try graphic
14 minutes: TRY: Ireland 7-8 ScotlandWallop! Number eight Johnnie Beattie scores an equally impressive try a couple of minutes after the restart via a series of excellent offloads from his forward colleagues Ross Ford, Kelly Brown as well as Graeme Morrison, holding off the challenge of Paul O'Connell to touch down with an outstretched arm. However, Dan Parks cannot add to the tally with a tough kick from the left-hand touchline. Still, Scotland lead by a point. Entertaining stuff.

Try graphic
11 minutes: TRY: Ireland 7-3 Scotland Absolutely sensational try from Brian O'Driscoll, all set up by the invention and creativity of Jonathan Sexton. The fly-half loops around Gordon D'Arcy before collecting a precise pop pass to surge into open space before spreading an inside pass - which looks slightly forward in the replay - into the hands of the Ireland captain, who touches down under the posts. Most definitely one of the tries of the tournament. And Sexton deservedly adds two points with a simple conversion.


8 minutes: Keith Earls smashes through Scotland's defence, setting up captain Paul O'Connell to offload spectacularly to Geordan Murphy some 10m from the Scottish line, but the full-back cannot wrap his fingers around the ball, handing Scotland the opportunity to clear their lines in a very dangerous position.

6 minutes: PENALTY: Ireland 0-3 Scotland Paul O'Connell is pinged by referee Kaplan for not rolling away from the tackle after bringing down hooker Ross Ford, handing Dan Parks the easiest of three points in front of the sticks.

4 minutes: Huge punt from Dan Parks sees Scotland clear within five metres of Ireland's tryline. Muted concern from the packed Irish faithful.

The teams: Ireland: 15-Geordan Murphy, 14-Tommy Bowe, 13-Brian O'Driscoll (captain), 12-Gordon D'Arcy, 11-Keith Earls, 10-Jonathan Sexton, 9-Tomas O'Leary; 1-Cian Healy, 2-Rory Best, 3-John Hayes, 4-Donncha O'Callaghan, 5-Paul O'Connell, 6-Stephen Ferris, 7-David Wallace, 8-Jamie Heaslip.
Replacements: 16-Sean Cronin, 17-Tony Buckley, 18-Leo Cullen, 19-Shane Jennings, 20-Eoin Reddan, 21-Ronan O'Gara, 22-Rob Kearney.

Scotland: 15-Hugo Southwell, 14-Sean Lamont, 13-Nick De Luca, 12-Graeme Morrison, 11-Max Evans, 10-Dan Parks, 9-Chris Cusiter (captain); 1-Allan Jacobsen, 2-Ross Ford, 3-Euan Murray, 4-Jim Hamilton, 5-Alastair Kellock, 6-Kelly Brown, 7-John Barclay, 8-Johnnie Beattie.

Replacements: 16-Scott Lawson, 17-Alasdair Dickinson, 18-Richie Gray, 19-Alan MacDonald, 20-Mike Blair, 21-Phil Godman, 22-Simon Danielli.

One minute: Brilliant break inside the first minute from Tommy Bowe, drifting off his wing and looping around towards the 40m line, but Keith Earls cannot hang on to the pass and it's a line-out for Scotland.

1703: And we're off.

1702: I forgot to mention there is a slight, minute, teensy possibility that Ireland could still win the championship if they score something close to a billion points this evening and if England beat France. That is quite possibly the biggest IF in the world.

1658: If you're a Scotland fan who forgot to hid behind a sofa at 1652, fear not, here's a stat that might cheer you up. From the previous 123 meetings between the two countries, Scotland lead the victory count 65 to 55 with five draws and one abandonment. Meanwhile, BBC co-commentator and former Ireland flanker Phillip Matthews makes a salient point before the final game at Croke Park, highlighting the number of Irish players who have come to the fore at the famous venue; the likes of Cian Healey, Tomas O'Leary, Luke Fitzgerald (who misses today's game with injury) and Rob Kearney have all blossomed during the four-year residence at the ground.

1652: Scotland fans may want to take refuge behind a sofa right now - They have not won in Dublin for 12 years. Their last victory was in 1998 following a dramatic 17-16 win at Lansdowne Road. Ireland's record at Croke Park is impressive; won nine, drawn one and lost three. Only France, Wales and New Zealand have managed to leave victorious.

1650: Ireland coach Declan Kidney tells the BBC's touchline reporter Jill Douglas that referee Jonathan Kaplan of South Africa will not have any bearing on their gameplan. Meanwhile, Scotland boss Andy Robinson says he wants more emphasis on discipline from his inconsistent XV.

1643: Hello team, OK so the Grand Slam maybe out of the window, but the week's St Patrick's Day celebrations could well be revived if Ireland clinch their fifth triple crown in seven years at Croke Park. It's the final game at the famous Gaelic sports venue before the move to the newly built and rather splendid-looking Aviva Stadium, on the very spot where the old Lansdowne Road stadium once stood.

By Ben Dirs


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"I'm pretty pleased, I thought we played some outstanding rugby at times and it was nice to go in at half-time with a lead. There are still aspects we can work on but I thought it was a very professional performance and we showed potentially what we are capable when we're not having to chase games."
Wales coach Warren Gatland

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"He has not had many starts and was stepping into the shoes of one of our greats, but Sam Warburton had a fantastic game."
Former Wales captain Colin Charvis on BBC One.

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"Nobody else in world rugby plays like Shane Williams. He finds himself in positions that no winger does - his try was a classic number nine's try."
Former New Zealand scrum-half Justin Marshall on BBC One.

1624: Right, that's me done until this evening, I'm going to hand you over to Pranav Soneji, who will be handling the Ireland v Scotland encounter in Dublin.

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give me 7 on 606: "Stephen Jones thoroughly deserved the be man of the match, he controlled the game well and showed us all what he's capable of in a near full-strength Wales team. Hard luck Italy, you confronted Wales on a form day."

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richie4eva1 on 606: "Like the look of Tom Prydie, but is he ready to take on the southern hemisphere big hitters? I would say put him on the bench for the South Africa game in June and give him a run out to test the water."

"I'm very pleased, it was a very good performance, our most complete performance of the tournament. It's just a shame it came in our last game, but we're a good side. We made a few errors early in the tournament that cost us dearly, but we knew we could put things right and we are a good outfit."
Man of the match Stephen Jones

FULL-TIME: Wales 33-10 Italy Warburton, who quite easily could have won the man of the match award, puts in another big hit as the clock ticks down. And that's that - good win for Wales, decent performance, a few nice tries, but they still finish fourth in the table. Let's call it a heartening end to a pretty disappointing Championship.

78 mins: Hook slices through the Italy defence once again before shovelling inside to Sam Warburton, but the Welsh open-side is tap-tackled. Jonathan Davies' RBS Six Nations man of the match is Stephen Jones...

75 mins: TRY Wales 33-10 Italy Italy must score - but no, that's a great tackle by Sam Warburton with the try-line beckoning for Mirco Bergamasco. But McLean has scored - step off his left foot, Andrew Bishop loses his footing and the Italy full-back touches down beneath the posts. Mirco Bergamasco kicks the extras.

72 mins: Italy are out on their feet - Byrne ghosts through the defence once again, seemingly at a trot, but Wales' attack breaks down because of crossing. McLean relieves the pressure.

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Eirebilly on 606: "You just knew that Williams would pop up with a try. He is such an amazing player. I feel that there are at least two tries left in this match. I can't see Wales switching off like France did last week."

69 mins: TRY Wales 33-3 Italy Ryan Jones is replaced by Gareth Delve of Gloucester. Try for Wales - lovely, sweeping move from the hosts, Byrne melting through the Italy back-line, Shanklin putting Phillips in and the Wales scrum-half being hauled down by old foe Mirco a couple of yards short. But Shane Williams is there to finish things off from the resulting ruck. That's his 51st try in 73 games, Stephen Jones kicks the extras.

66 mins: PENALTY Wales 26-3 Italy Not sure what's going on between Mirco Bergamasco and Mike Phillips, but it would appear they don't like each other much. Bit of pushing and shoving, before Mirco puts his lipstick back in his handbag and pops over a penalty to get points on the board.

63 mins: Nice play from Zanni, peeling off the back of a maul and darting inside. Italy have come round after momentarily lapsing into madness. Ghiraldhini takes a bit hit but does well to offload, and that's one thing Wales have been good at today - 10 offloads so far. Tom Shanklin, Hugh Bennett and Paul James are on for Adam Jones, Jamie Roberts and Matthew Rees.

59 mins: Italy losing their heads now, another man off-side and that probably should have been a second yellow. Stephen Jones is the man orchestrating this mauling of the Italians, he's having a fine game.

57 mins: TRY Wales 26-0 Italy Stephen Jones has a prod, before Mauro Bergamasco is binned for coming into the side and shoving James Hook. All men to the pump now for the visitors, they could get blown away here... a second for James Hook - Stephen Jones creates the hole for Wales' number 13 and he floats over unopposed. Stephen Jones with the conversion, he hasn't missed one yet.

55 mins: Wales opening things up now. They go right, and they appear to be enjoying themselves all of a sudden. Stephen Jones kicks for the corner, and that's a good option all of a sudden, the hosts haven't had a line-out stolen all day. Phillips darts down the short side, before Mirco Bergamasco has a pop at the Wales scrum-half... Italian frustrations bubbling over...

52 mins: TRY Wales 19-0 Italy Great charge-down from Charteris, but there's no-one else with him and McLean gets away with it, although Wales win the scrum. Prydie loitering with intent behind his centres, but it's Byrne who takes the ball up, and Hook eventually goes over for the score after good work from Phillips and Stephen Jones. It's been coming, and it's well-deserved. Stephen Jones pings over the extras from an acute angle, and there's no coming back for Italy now.

48 mins: Wales go right from the ruck, and that's a great angle from Hook, scything through the line... but he should have put Prydie in there, instead of going for glory. As it is, he's hauled down and Wales have the ball. Poor option, Shaun Edwards is ruddy irate.

46 mins: Good shove from Italy, and Wales disintegrate and lose the penalty. Gower kicks to touch. Italy's forwards inch further into Wales territory, but eventually give it back... Phillips with the quick tap and go, Warburton releases Shane Williams, but he loses his footing. Another couple of phases, before Shane Williams takes the wrong option, grubbering when he should have taken the ball into contact.

43 mins: Another line-out won for Wales, before we have another rash of kicking, which ends with a woeful effort by Mauro Bergamasco. Good fend from Rees as he carries over the 10m line. Shane Williams hammers into the line but is unable to gather a missile of a short pass from Phillips.

41 mins: We're back under way. Bit of ping-pong, before McLean dinks a decent kick into touch.

Try graphic
"This might sound strange but the best thing about Wales v Italy game is the referee."
Anon on text 81111

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Hawick on 606: "Wales look a bit sharper this week but Italy haven't played badly and defended well; however the penalty count is killing them."

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"(Stephen) Jonesy is really controlling the game and when when Wales go wide, there are gaps to hit. We will hopefully score more tries out wide (in the second half), I hope."
Former Wales captain Gareth Thomas on BBC One

40 mins: HT Wales 12-0 Italy Apologies, you'll have to manually refresh, strange things were happening with the minutes there... Garcia with a half burst, but Wales turn it over. Gower's having a bit of a shocker, the half ends with him attempting a drop-goal and falling flat on his backside. That's the half over, and Wales have not scored a try in the first half of any game this season.

38 mins: Lovely little cross chip from Stephen Jones and Byrne goes barrelling down the right wing. But Wales lose the ball and replacement number nine Tebaldi hacks clear. Good defence from Prydie, scooping the ball up and kicking clear.

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MunsterMadCorkman on 606: "Is it just me or are Wales playing a very strange pattern today? Williams and Prydie have spent more more in the centres than on the wings."

36 mins: PENALTY Wales 12-0 Italy Gower skews an up and under and Wales very nearly score from the halfway - Hook claims it, spins and races clear. The Wales centre puts the kick in, but that's good cover scramble defence from McLean. Penalty for some Italy scullduggery in the scrum, and Stephen Jones pops his fourth kick over.

33 mins: PENALTY Wales 9-0 Italy Penalty for Wales, Italy off-side, and Stephen Jones increases the lead to nine points.

29 mins: Penalty against the Wales front row for collapsing, and all that pressure comes to nowt.

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Eirebilly on 606: "How much have Wales missed Phillips and Jenkins. Both have been outstanding so far."

29 mins: Canavosio forced to shuffle the backs again - scrum-half Canavosio is off, Tebaldi is on. Wales go right now, Shane Williams chips through for Byrne, who gathers, but the Welsh full-back is hauled down. Wales come again, and that's a great pass from Jenkins, looping one out to Stephen Jones on the left wing. Prydie targets Castrogiovanni in midfield, but can't get round him... the forwards looking to burrow over on the left wing, but they send it right and Lee Byrne goes over... forward pass! Very good call actually, Shane Williams delayed that too long.

24 mins: Gower with a woeful up and under, and Phillips with a quick tap and go... plenty of yards made and plenty of defenders burned... Wales go left, but once again the Italy defence holds firm and they end up turning the ball over after a huge tackle by Garcia on Hook.

22 mins: PENALTY Wales 6-0 Italy Bradley Davies is concussed we believe, so Gough will remain in his stead. Stephen Jones shrugs off a rather wet tackle from opposite number Gower, and the Welsh fly-half, on his 88th cap, knocks over the resulting penalty.

21 mins: Plenty of offloads from Wales as they chip away at this Italy defence, but stout defence again from the visitors, and this time it's Luke McLean who clears his lines.

19 mins: Shane Williams juggles before offloading inside to Ryan Jones. Prydie, switched to the left wing, grubbers through and Wales win the line-out. Four out of four line-outs so far, new man Gough taking the ball in five metres out. Wales go right, and Hook beats one man stepping off his right foot. Good defence though, and there's no way through for Wales. Turnover, and Gower hoofs clear.

16 mins: Charteris and Canavosio having a bit of handbags - "He's 7ft 7, you're 5ft 6," says referee Wayne Barnes. If anything's going to wind a scrum-half up, it's chat like that. Bradley Davies off for Wales, and I don't think he'll be back.

13 mins: Pratichetti under the garryowen, before Wales put width on it, but Byrne opts for an aimless kick through. That's a monster double hit on McLean by Jenkins and Ryan Jones, like being hit by a couple of VW camper vans. Wales off-side at the ruck, Mirco Bergamasco hits the right upright with his penalty attempt...

10 mins: Zanni with a good take at the line-out, but linesman Marius Jonker spots something and Perugini is penalised for a bit of over-zealous footwork - penalty reversed, Stephen Jones punts clear. Adam Jones is back on after being patched up.

8 mins: Penalty Wales 3-0 Italy Our first sighting of young Tom Prydie - offload from Warburton and the Ospreys wing puts in a cheeky little kick and chase. First scrum of the match and Stephen Jones makes a half-break off the back... penalty to Wales, tackler not releasing the tackled player, and Stephen Jones makes hay from bang in front. So much for territory...

6 mins: Pratichetti is on now for the injured Canale. Ironic cheer as Wales manage to win their own line-out - they've lost 17 in the tournament so far. Stephen Jones with the clearing kick, courtesy of a penalty, and Wales win another line-out.

4 mins: Italy have problems in the back-line - Canale was a late replacement for Andrea Masi, so if he has to go off, coach Nick Mallett will have some reshuffling to do. Italy line-out, and Gower punches a hole... and just misses with a drop-goal. All Italy so far, they're bossing the early stages.

3 mins: Castrogivanni with a neat pass to Canale, who scampers down the left wing, and after two and a half minutes, the Welsh still haven't had their mitts on the ball. Canale is injured, however, while Adam Jones is spewing claret from the brow.

1 min: Italy get us under way in Cardiff... half break by Luke McLean, Italy string a few phases together...

1424: It's been raining in Cardiff, but Italy coach Nick Mallett insisted the roof of the Millennium Stadium be kept open... here come the Italians, play in about five minutes...

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"The Italian scrum is very powerful. They will try and win as much ball as possible in the line out and bully them around close to the corners."
Former Wales captain Colin Charvis on BBC One

1424: It's been raining in Cardiff, but Italy coach Nick Mallett insisted the roof of the Millennium Stadium be kept open... here come the Italians, play in about five minutes...

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"Wales are in an uneasy relationship with their misfiring team before kick-off. I walked down Westgate St as the team coach, with blackened windows, swooped into the stadium, to distinctly muted applause."
Sean Davies, BBC Sport in Cardiff

1421: This is the 17th meeting between Wales and Italy - Wales have won 13, Italy two and there has been one draw. Three Lions back in the Wales starting line-up today - skipper Ryan Jones, scrum-half Mike Phillips and prop Gethin Jenkins.

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"I've fronted up to the press this week for people to know how much it means to me to coach Wales and the players to wear the red jersey. People need to see that passion in us."
Wales coach Warren Gatland on BBC One

Jonathan Davies
"I expect Wales to play well and win comfortably."
Former Wales fly-half Jonathan Davies on BBC One

1413: Wales have won just one of their last six Six Nations encounters, but Italy have only ever won once away from home in the tournament, against Scotland in 2007. Ospreys winger Tom Prydie, with 167 minutes of senior rugby to his name, becomes the youngest Wales international ever today at 18 years and 25 days. Let's hope things pan out better than for Norman Biggs: Biggs made his debut aged 18 years and 49 days in 1888 and was jeered by his own fans. Twenty years later, he was killed by a poison dart in Nigeria.

1400: Hello you. Welcome to our coverage of the final weekend of this year's Six Nations tournament, and we're kicking it all off with Wales v Italy in Cardiff. The Welsh could still win the Wooden Spoon, so they could do with winning this one...





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see also
France v England photos
20 Mar 10 |  Rugby Union
Ireland v Scotland photos
20 Mar 10 |  Rugby Union
Wales v Italy photos
20 Mar 10 |  Rugby Union
Ireland 20-23 Scotland
20 Mar 10 |  Rugby Union
Wales 33-10 Italy
20 Mar 10 |  Rugby Union
Six Nations table
10 Aug 06 |  Tables
Coming up next on Scrum V...
03 Nov 08 |  Welsh
Rugby union on the BBC
05 Feb 09 |  Rugby Union


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