Rugby Union: Martin Crowson's Five Things
Martin Crowson looks back at five key points from the weekend's rugby action.
1 The script writers have done a good job. England travel to arch rivals and current Six Nations champions Wales on the last weekend of the tournament with everything up for grabs. Fantastic. And what's more, it's a really hard game to call. A young England are unbeaten and have battled to some impressive victories this term. But Wales are at home and hitting some decent form with a team group that is together and will be defending home turf as if their lives depended on it.
2 Harlequins wrote another chapter over the weekend on why they should be regarded as one of the top three clubs in England. Still in the hunt for the Heineken Cup and the Aviva Premiership, they sent a second team to play Bath in the LV= Cup semi-final – and won convincingly. Add in the fact that Bath were desperate to win the competition to secure Heineken Cup rugby next season and you realise that the culture at The Stoop is a winning one, whatever side is put out.
3 There was much focus on England's nervy performance as they scraped an 18-11 win at Twickenham on Sunday. But Italy put in a sterling performance, not only physically but tactically as well. They stood toe-to-toe in the contact areas, and had the best two players on the pitch in skipper Sergio Parisse and flanker Alessandro Zanni.
SUNDAY OPEN BUFFET EAT AS MUCH AS U CAN £6.99PP & A LA CARTE...View details
Come & Try our Delicious Menu with an Amazing 15% off all Food Bills on a la carte menu only
Terms: Lebanese & Mediterenian Menu With An Amazing 15% Off Your Food Bills on a la carte menu only
Contact: 0116 2169184
Valid until: Sunday, May 26 2013
4 London Welsh are still in the fight to avoid relegation, despite being docked five points by an RFU disciplinary hearing. The decision took them to the bottom of the Premiership but, in a strange way, could galvanise the squad to produce the goods in the final five weeks of the season. While nearest rivals for the drop Sale will have had two further games under their belt as they chase LV= Cup glory, the Exiles will be fuming at the perceived injustice of it all.
5 If there were any lingering doubts about Tigers centre Manu Tuilagi's defensive capabilities, there shouldn't be. Tuilagi is rarely caught out on the defensive side of the ball for both club and country and his judgement on whether to sprint out of the line in order to make a big tackle has greatly improved. His last-minute tackle on Italian centre Gonzalo Canale on Sunday saved what would have been a game-tying score under the posts.