MALLETT: SCOTLAND WILL RUE POOR DISCIPLINE
Scotland will look back on Sunday's defeat to Wales and think about what might have been.
They had numerous opportunities to score more than the two tries they managed but in truth it was their ill-discipline that proved their undoing.
Greig Laidlaw went very close just before half-time, Stuart Hogg made a fine break and replacement scrum-half Sam Hidalgo-Clyne was caught high and knocked the ball on with the try line beckoning.
But you cannot concede 13 penalties and hope to win a game, only less than 10 is acceptable in the international game.
Wales scored while Scotland had 14 men on the pitch, Rhys Webb going over after Finn Russell saw yellow for taking a player out in the air.
Set piece possession probably favoured Scotland slightly. They were solid on their own lineout and won a few of Wales' throw-ins while the scrums were a pretty even contest.
But the one area Wales had complete dominance was the aerial battle. On at least four occasions Welsh players caught up-and-unders kicked by one of their own players and they retained possession to claim large chunks of territory.
And when Jonathan Davies went over for their second try, after poor defending from Matt Scott and Stuart Hogg who should never have bought the dummy, the game was up, even if there was some drama at the end over when the final whistle was blown.
Ireland were well below their best in seeing off France but their victory owed much to dogged defence and accurate kicking, both from hand and from the tee.
Conor Murray's box-kicks proved a superb exit strategy while tactically the returning Jonathan Sexton was spot on in keeping France penned in during the first half.
Ireland had good control of possession and territory in the opening period and French ill-discipline came back to haunt them in the end as Sexton was deadly.
Sexton kicked five from five and Ian Madigan added another while the former was receiving treatment for a blood injury.
France by contrast were left to rue Camille Lopez's inaccuracy, the France fly-half missing kicks that could have been decisive in such a close encounter.
But while defeat will be tough to take, France can take plenty of positives from their performance particularly in the second half.
They matched and probably bettered Ireland physically, scored the only try of the game through Romain Taofifenua and were totally on top by the time the game finished.
Les Bleus played with lots of energy and enterprise after the interval and if not for a silly yellow card for Pascal Pape (although Rory Best was equally ill-disciplined in conceding his) it could have been so much more.
If they can improve their discipline, they will be very tough to beat in later Championship games. England v France in the final Championship game could be a cracker.
Ireland were not at their best and will need to be in two weeks' time against England at home, which is now looking, as predicted, like the Championship decider.
Six tries and a comfortable victory over Italy mean it was a job well done for England but conceding three tries to the Azzurri will not have made defence coach Andy Farrell happy.
England were impressive in their general all-round attacking and kicking game, while their set-piece was dominant both in the scrum and with attacking lineouts, the latter creating tries for both Billy Vunipola and Nick Easter.
Unlike the Wales game, England held onto the ball more and looked to attack from deep meaning they did not have to make as many tackles.
Jonathan Joseph is a great addition to the England back line, his in and out move to beat Kelly Haimona for his first try was special while his second try owed much to superb team attacking play in the build-up as the impressive George Ford wrapped around behind Billy Twelvetrees to put Joseph into the hole.
Up front Billy Vunipola carried very well for the hosts but Italy can take heart from their efforts in defeat.
While they were dominated up front and missed key tackles out wide, they played attractive enterprising rugby that was crowd pleasing and earned them three tries.
Apart from losing the ball in contact prior to Joseph's first try, Luca Morisi had an outstanding game. His initial break was instrumental in getting Italy on the front foot and led to Sergio Parisse's try, and the centre scored two others tries himself.
Haimona missing 10 points from kicks at goal did not help either but in the end they were outclassed by an England side that were better in every department.