Six Nations Breakdown: Ireland lack attacking spark while Scotland fail to hold nerve

We take a look at what we learned from today's action

Six Nations Breakdown: Ireland lack attacking spark while Scotland fail to hold nerve

©INPHO/James Crombie

Ireland suffered a defeat at the hands of France by the narrowest of margins in Paris, while Scotland simply didn't have enough to get over the line against Wales in a thrilling encounter.

Ireland lack spark behind the scrum

Granted the conditions were difficult, but is that really an excuse for another display were Ireland really failed to fire in attack?

The quite clear and obvious gameplan of bombarding the French back three with an endless supply of Garryowens provided little change, while the Irish attack looked bereft of ideas when keeping the ball in hand.

Save for a Rob Kearney break from a signature Irish back line loop, Schmidt's men failed to penetrate the French defensive wall, instead hoping to accumulate points on the board from the indiscipline of their opponents rather than their own ingenuity.

It again raises questions about the direction Schmidt's side are going following a torrid exit from the World Cup and having scored just one try in their opening two games of this year's Six Nations.

Image: ©INPHO/James Crombie

With the Championship all but gone, it may give the Kiwi the chance to take the shackles off of his backline and allow them more creative freedom in attack. 

Of course the ideal situation now would be to blood that the next generation of Irish backs at an elite level, without having to worry about a pesky championship.

Forever the pragmatist, Schmidt must not fall back on conservatism as the perfect opportunity presents itself to bring players such as McCloskey and Marmion into the front line.

Nearly never made it

Another week, another near miss from the Tartan army. 

After the dour affair in Paris, Scotland and Wales served up a Six Nations Cardiff cracker with Scotland verging on a first Six Nations win in quite a while.

They showed their promise in attack with Tommy Seymour and Duncan Taylor touching down for wonderful scores, but after being in a winning position, they failed to push on see it out as they allowed themselves to be blitzed by Wales in the final quarter. 

It's another heartbreak story for the travelling Scottish contingent as they lose a third consecutive game by a single score following last week's defeat to England and the agonising finale to their World Cup quarter final against Australia. 

Vern Cotter's side have shown progress and remain a team in development, but for all their growth and improvement, they remain winless in the Six nations since he took charge. 

Referees fail to inspire confidence

Once again Ireland seem to be the victims of poor officiating as today showcased another example of how low the bar is at for test level refereeing. 

No stranger to having a howler (see the World Cup opener) it was universally agreed that  Jaco Peyper had little to no control over the game today, something Schmidt noted in his post-match comments

However, far from an isolated incident, this is the latest in a string of disappointing refereeing performances at the highest level which again highlights the dearth of top class referees available to World Rugby.