Planet Rugby

Preview: Women's Six Nations, Round 5

14th March 2013 11:02

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Ashleigh Baxter for Ireland Women

Held: Ashleigh Baxter

Ireland have been crowned maiden Six Nations champions and are looking to secure their first ever Grand Slam victory this weekend in Milan.

As the competition ladder tightens up and we recover from our rugby hangover there is still plenty to play for as we enter the final round.

France will not be happy at the result of their last outing but can be proud knowing they were fearless in their approach and gained some valuable experience in high pressure situations. They will need to use this experience and be completely ruthless, outmuscle and bully Scotland into submission if they are to have any hopes of finishing second on the ladder. They will need to replicate England's 76-0 scoreline to stand a chance.

Scotland on the other hand, whilst remaining winless are really challenging sides this year and if they can retain the majority of this squad, they will definitely be contenders in the years to come. Head coach Karen Findlay will want the team to focus on their basic skills to put in a complete 80 minute performance. If they can do that, they may just pull off one of the possible major upsets of the weekend.

In order to automatically qualify for the Rugby World Cup in 2014, Italy must defeat Ireland and hope that England convincingly beat Wales. Italy, with home ground advantage, will be absolutely pumped for this game after being held scoreless by England in their last outing. The forward pack will need to really contest and challenge at the breakdown. More importantly their defensive patterns will need to be on point if they are to contain Ireland's potent backline.

Ireland will need to remain extremely focused on the task at hand and not let the potential Grand Slam victory become bigger than the game itself. Whilst on the cusp of greatness for their country, they still need to do all the simple, little things right and the results will follow. Already having played in high stakes last weekend, Ireland are sure to be confident they can work hard and grind out to win this game by minimizing their basic handling errors and correcting their line-out at set-piece time.

This will be the game to watch this weekend, depending on which side of the fence you sit. It can be a great day for the Italians to make the upset of the tournament and qualify for the Rugby World Cup or be a part of the green machine in Ireland's first ever Grand Slam victory.

England and Wales are both looking to finish their tournament on a high after both winning their last two Tests. For Wales, they are looking to create the possible upset that will see them qualify for the Rugby World Cup ahead of Italy. Whilst for England, they are now playing for pride as the realisation that they will not be hoisting the Six Nations trophy for the first time in eight years sets in.

With nothing to lose and everything to gain, expect to see some real attacking running rugby in this match. There will be a very open feel as both teams exchange blows and the team that plays down the right end of the field and minimizes their error rate should win on the day. Whilst this all sounds simple, we all know how extremely complex rugby can be - these ladies just make it look effortless.

By Amanda Love

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