It was a memorable weekend for the half-a-dozen Saints who were in action in the opening round of the 2017 Six Nations.
Saturday afternoon saw Dylan Hartley return to action to lead England out against France at Twickenham. Tom Wood and Courtney Lawes put in 80-minutes’ worth of all-action performances to help England achieve a 19-17 come-from-behind win, but it was Louis Picamoles who stole the show as the standout player on the pitch, deservedly taking home the man of the match honours.
Despite receiving the plaudits Picamoles told Midi Olympique that he would have preferred the win.
“It’s an encouraging loss but we would like to have encouraging victories,” he said. “We are quite annoyed because we have the desire to win but we have to look on what went wrong and stop being satisfied with this kind of performance; now we have to win games.”
How good was @Picamoleslouis ???
Can we be team mates again now please?
— Tom Wood (@tomwood678) February 5, 2017
For his part Hartley also said that there was plenty to work on from England’s perspective, telling ITV Sport: “We got through that one and a huge amount of credit needs to go to our finishers, who came on to give us some go-forward at the end.
“We dug in and we found a way and we’ll take something from that. It’s week one of the tournament and we’ll take the win, but it’s obvious that we have to be more clinical with ball in hand and less passive in defence.”
Attention then turned to Rome on Sunday afternoon, where Wales found it tough going against an obstinate and determined Italy outfit. Indeed the Azzurri led 7-3 at half-time, but Wales reacted positively after the break to score 30 unanswered points.
George North rounded the scoring off with a 70-metre try that belied a heavily strapped thigh, but despite extending his scoring streak in the tournament to five in as many matches he told ITV Sport that the final result was what was important.
“It’s what I can do for the team that matters,” he said. “We knew we’d have a tough start coming here and the win was what mattered. We knew it was going to be a tight game and each year Italy get better and better. In the first half the rain came down pretty hard before the warm-up. We were happy with the performance in the end.”
England Under-20 also got their own Six Nations off to a flying start, scrum-half Alex Mitchell coming off the bench in a 59-17 win over France in Exeter.
The Under-20s will be heading back to the East Midlands later in the tournament, playing Scotland at Franklin’s Gardens on Saturday, March 11th. Tickets are available now with prices starting at just £5 – CLICK HERE to book online and use Print@Home to save the admin fees!