Huge number of internationals this weekend, but let´s stick to the Trophy games. My predictions were more or less spot on, although Poland scored less than expected against Moldova.
Switzerland started poorly against the Netherlands with a paper thin defence conceding three tries and a 24 – 3 lead for the Dutch after 35″. Then suddenly, the Swiss were galvanised into action and for the rest of the game their opponents were under the cosh. They scored two penalties against the run of play but conceded four tries and were defending desperately when the final whistle blew. 27 – 30 in favour of the Netherlands.
Portugal proved to be easily the best team in the group. They outclassed the Czechs, who had already beaten Poland, by 45 – 12 and are clearly strong favourites to take the Trophy. I didn´t see the third game, where Poland could only beat Moldova 13 – 0. Moldova seem to be in free fall but Poland also appear to have conflicts within their Union.
Eastern Europe is clearly struggling at present. The Ukraine was relegated to Conference 1 and will not be returning to the Trophy next year. They are likely to be joined in Conference 1 by Moldova next Summer with Lithuania moving up. Sweden will of course remain at Conference level. A pity that we have decided not to participate seriously in Europe as the Trophy seems to be weaker than a couple of years ago. Only Portugal are clearly better than a proper Swedish team. But after two wins in the last 23 games we will not be moving up any time soon.