After a pulsating opening weekend of action in the European Championship, the action continues at pace this weekend with the second round of fixtures – with two intriguing matches in store for Rugby League fans.
Whilst most of the media spotlight will be on the first weekend of the Four Nations, Scotland, Ireland, Wales and France will continue on their quest to be crowned champions of Europe – with one team guaranteed to be ruled out of the running this weekend.
France v Wales – Saturday 3pm (Albi)
Either Wales or France will know their chances of becoming European Champions will end with a defeat this weekend, when the two meet on Saturday afternoon in Albi. John Kear’s men suffered an opening night loss against Scotland last week, whilst Richard Agar’s French side were on the wrong end of a shock result against Ireland, going down 22-12 in Dublin.
Both sides know a win is imperative to their chances of winning the tournament – with Wales’ hopes of qualifying automatically for the 2017 World Cup going up in smoke should they lose this fixture.
The French will be without key full-back Morgan Escare, who is again missing from their squad due to an ongoing injury problem. Livewire hooker Eloi Pelissier is in though, and there is plenty of other Super League experience in the shape of the likes of Kevin Larroyer and Damien Cardace.
Ireland v Scotland – Saturday 2pm (Dublin)
The two winners from week one lock horns across the Irish Sea, as either Ireland or Scotland can take a step closer to European Championship glory on Saturday afternoon. Ireland were arguably the surprise package of the first weekend, causing a major upset by defeating pre-tournament favourites France in front of a healthy crowd at Dublin’s Tallaght Stadium. And that is the venue for their second game, as Mark Aston’s men look to beat another of the hot tips for the tournament.
But Scotland will be heading over the Irish Sea full of confidence after a comprehensive victory against Wales on the opening weekend, and they are bringing the big guns with them to Ireland for this fixture. Danny Brough is in – as are Super League stars such as Joe Wardle and Danny Addy – and the Scots will be heavy favourites on paper to knock off the Irish in their own back garden.
But as we know, the game isn’t played on paper – as Ireland proved last week. Can Mark Aston’s side perform another batch of heroics on the international stage once again?
Unfortunately, the games won’t be on TV – but there is one shred of comfort, as the official French website will be streaming the clash against Wales. We at TotalRL.com will have the highlights of both games early next week, too.
And if you can’t wait until then, full, comprehensive match reports of both games will be in Monday’s League Express – meaning you will be right up to date with the goings on as the European Championship heads into its final weekend.