Key takeaways from Round 3 of Six Nations as Marcus Smith’s England end Wales title defense

France advanced their Six Nations Grand Slam chances with a very convincing win over Scotland, while England were nowhere near as confident as they edged out Wales at Twickenham.

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William and Kate attend the Six Nations match between England and Wales at Twickenham

The Six Nations dream continues for England after holding Wales at bay to record a 23-19 victory at Twickenham on Saturday, keeping the hosts in contention to claim this year’s trophy.

Marcus Smith came out on top in major fashion and converted 18 runs from the tee to amass his biggest points tally for England to date, beating Wales in their opener against the border rivals.

Eddie Jones will know there is room for improvement though, particularly if he saw France put light work on Scotland in a 36-17 hammering at Murrayfield earlier today.

Sports mirror breaks down a selection of the main talking points and key takeaways from our first batch of third round fixtures, with Ireland still set to host Italy on Sunday. . .

1. Marcus Smith: Winner of the match

Marcus Smith scored a career-high 18 points for England en route to victory over Wales


REUTERS/Tony Obrien)

His extended promotion to the starting gig may be partly due to the absence of Owen Farrell, and it may not even come as a surprise to many, but Smith seems more comfortable as No. 10. English per game.

Granted, kickers are expected to earn their supper by putting the ball between the uprights, but Smith took the opportunity six times (which weren’t all easy) and again showed his talent for the big scene.

A new personal best for single-game points for England is indicative of the progress he is making, and Jones’ men needed it after Manu Tuilagi’s absence appeared to wipe out so much of an ongoing threat. execution.

2. Dupont’s delirium

When was the last time you encountered a player who puts in Player of the Match quality performances as frequently as that of Toulouse terrier Antoine Dupont?

Just as he did with his first-minute goal against Ireland, it was Dupont whose break from inside his own half paved the way for Paul Willemse to score France’s try against Scotland – and at this point no one is surprised.

Jonathan Danty was the only French back to match his scrum half for tackles made on Saturday (13), while only Damian Penaud (85) and Yoram Moefana (66) beat his 64 yards with the ball in hand.

Player of the match for good reason in Edinburgh, the reigning World Rugby Player of the Year could become the third player to win the award in consecutive years.

3. The POTM Popularity Contest

Try scorer Alex Dombrandt may have been a more deserving player of the match than teammate Marcus Smith


Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

It’s a minor point in the grand scheme of things, but there seems to be a perception among some rugby officials that being the most popular player in a game is the same as being the best.

Granted, there’s no arguing against Dupont as player of the match in Scotland, and we’ve exceeded our praise for Smith as he continues to grow, but the latter was not Twickenham’s best player despite his plunder of 18 points.

After all, the RFU itself named try scorer Alex Dombrandt their player of the match ahead of Smith, whose four missed tackles were the most of any Twickenham player.

This is an important point for the sole reason that it threatens to hamper Smith and other popular young long-term prospects, and could in turn encourage complacency among those who think “good” is good enough.

4. Rory Darge the real deal

Rory Darge is arguably Scotland’s best player in defeat to France


Jane Barlow/PA Wire)

Speaking of young guns stepping onto the big stage, the only thing that would have made Rory Darge’s full Scotland debut more enjoyable was if they could pull off an unlikely victory over the French.

But that briefly seemed all too possible at Murrayfield, not least thanks to Darge’s defiant try in response to the Blues’ first scoring salvo in Scotland.

The 22-year-old has been touted as a potential superstar, but athletes his age can often struggle to breathe when thrown into deeper water. Instead, Darge walked on water on his first outing at Murrayfield.

Gregor Townsend spoke of the threat of the prospect on both sides of the ball, and Darge’s dazzling display was all the more impressive after Covid-positive Hamish Watson was ruled out on Friday.

5. Spoken too soon for Scotland?

Scotland beat England to win the Calcutta Cup but have since lost back to back in the Six Nations


REUTERS/Russell Cheyne)

There’s no doubt they’ve made progress in almost four years under Townsend, but it turns out many of us may have overcooked our assessment of this current Scottish squad.

Expectations were high after eight Scots made the Lions tour last year and beat England in their Six Nations curtain raiser, but two defeats on the rebound are more typical of the same old slog .

Not to overlook Scotland’s upgrades as a few different responses on Saturday could well have tipped the result, but a lack of composure and experience in those moments remains the difference between them and the elite.

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