Rahmat Shah fell just short of Afghanistan's first Test century but fifties from Hashmatullah Shahidi and Asghar Afghan pushed them into a strong position on day two against Ireland.

Rahmat fell on 98 and Afghanistan were eventually bowled out for 314, reaching stumps with a lead of 120 runs and boosted by the dismissal of captain William Porterfield for a duck in Ireland's second innings.

Afghanistan – who skittled Ireland for just 172 in their first innings on day one – added 67 runs to their overnight total in the first session before Andy McBrine broke the 130-run union between Rahmat and Shahidi, trapping the latter lbw on 61.

Rahmat chopped on agonisingly close to a maiden Test century and Mohammad Nabi followed before tea, with Asghar receiving minimal support from the tail during his knock of 67.

Rashid Khan was the only other Afghanistan batsman to reach double figures as Stuart Thompson claimed figures of 3-28.

The sixth and final wicket to fall in the last session was that of Porterfield, who edged Yamin Ahmadzai behind second ball as Ireland reached the close on 22-1.

Wesley Fofana has been denied a Six Nations farewell in France's match against Italy on Saturday due to injury.

Clermont Auvergne centre Fofana reportedly sustained an injury during training on Friday and has been replaced in the starting XV by Geoffrey Doumayrou.

The 31-year-old, who will retire from international rugby after this year's World Cup, started Les Bleus' opening 24-19 defeat against Wales but has not featured in the Six Nations since.

France will hope to round off a disappointing campaign with a win in Rome as they look to beat Scotland to fourth place, with Italy already consigned to the wooden spoon.

Wasps have revealed that England scrum-half is facing a spell on the sidelines as he has been diagnosed with blood clots.

Robson scored his first Test try after coming off the bench to win his second cap in England's Six Nations thrashing of Italy last weekend.

The 27-year-old was replaced by Ben Spencer in the squad for England's final match of the tournament against Scotland on Saturday.

Wasps on Saturday stated why Robson will not be involved in the Calcutta Cup clash at Twickenham.

The Premiership club said in a statement: "Wasps can confirm that Dan Robson suffered blood clots which arose spontaneously earlier this week and is being evaluated and treated by specialists at the moment.

"At this stage it is too early to give a return-to-play date."

England attack coach Scott Wisemantel has been watching Braveheart to ensure he understands the importance of a Calcutta Cup battle with Scotland, which can be "more than a rugby game".

Scotland will run out at Twickenham on Saturday attempting to spring a surprise by retaining the Calcutta Cup after defeating Eddie Jones' side at Murrayfield last year.

It will be Australian Wisemantel's first experience of facing Scotland since he joined England's coaching staff last year.

England will be playing for the title if Ireland can deny Wales a Grand Slam in Cardiff earlier in the day and Wisemantel has been doing alternative research ahead of the showdown on the final day of the tournament.

"I've watched Braveheart a few times," Wisemantel said.

"I read up on the history of the Calcutta Cup and it's quite interesting.

"It's just such a long time it's been going. It's more than a rugby game, sometimes. There are historical links for the supporters."

Wisemantel has savoured his first experience of the Six Nations as a coach regardless of the outcome this weekend. 

He added: "I've never experienced the Six Nations in a coaching capacity, I've always been a spectator and it's special.

"It's a great tournament, it really is."

Rory Best will try to set aside the emotion of his final Six Nations appearance as he feels Ireland need their best performance yet at Wales.

Ireland captain Best announced last week that he plans to retire after this year's Rugby World Cup, meaning Saturday's match at Cardiff will be his last in a competition in which his side enjoyed Grand Slam glory last year.

But Wales are instead on the brink of the Grand Slam and Ireland must triumph if they are to retain any hope of even defending their title.

Best and his team-mates have delivered numerous outstanding displays in recent years, but their departing skipper believes they will have to improve further to upset Warren Gatland's men.

"It's incredibly special for me and my family," Best said of the match. "I was old enough to watch the Five Nations and as a family we went down for nearly every home game.

"And then to be incredibly lucky to play in it for so many years, it's a proper traditional, rugby tournament.

"While I will miss the matches, there will be moments like struggling to put a pre-match meal down your neck and having all those nerves running around which I won't miss. It will be nice to enjoy the matches with my family.

"There have been so many highs but also so many lows. My first Six Nations cap was against Wales in 2006. It seems so long ago but it has also gone in a flash.

"Apart from the Aviva, there is nowhere else I'd rather play than here especially when there is something on the line.

"I'll try not to get too emotional. Hopping on the bus, the team anthems, realising that this is the last time you'll ever do any of these things, that special atmosphere in the dressing room when everyone is knackered.

"Thinking about those moments makes you emotional. But I've dragged the a*** out of it for long enough now.

"I wanted to go out on my terms, when I feel I'm playing well and we know we still have something to do later in the year.

"[Saturday] will take one of our best performances of the Six Nations, arguably the best performance this group has produced.

"We have produced good performances before, but it is so tough to come here against a side on such a winning roll, in this place which is incredibly tough to win anyway."

Alun Wyn Jones will be realising a dream when he leads Wales out to face Ireland in a "crazy atmosphere" with a Grand Slam up for grabs in Cardiff on Saturday.

Warren Gatland's men stand on the brink of their first Six Nations title for six years and a first clean sweep since 2012.

Defending champions Ireland need a victory and Scotland to cause an upset against England at Twickenham in order to retain their title.

Captain Jones is relishing the occasion, but knows Wales face a stern test against Joe Schmidt's men at the Principality Stadium.

"It's a privilege, you want to put yourself in this position and that's where we find ourselves. You ask any rugby player, this is what you dream about, this is why you become a professional." said Jones.

"This is where we find ourselves, at home in what is going to be a crazy, great atmosphere with 75,000 Welsh fans, a few Irish. These are the sort of occasions you work and live for."

He added: "Domestically you look at the success Irish teams have had over the years, but also in the last 18 months-two years they have probably set the standard in northern hemisphere international rugby.

"They got a couple of big scalps and they've been arguably the most consistent team. We are well aware of the individuals, but also the calibre of the previous results they have had in the last 18 months to two years."

The match will be played with the roof open at Ireland's request after Wales asked for it to be closed.

Yamin Ahmadzai and Mohammad Nabi took three wickets apiece as Afghanistan skittled Ireland out cheaply on day one of the Test in Dehradun.

Ireland fell to pieces after William Porterfield won the toss in what is just the second Test for both sides, Afghanistan dismissing them for just 172.

It would have been much worse but for an unbeaten 52 from Tim Murtagh, who become only the 11th number 11 to top score in a Test innings.

Afghanistan were 90-2 in reply at stumps in the one-off Test, James Cameron-Dow taking both wickets.

Porterfield (9) and Paul Stirling (26) put on 37 for the first wicket but Afghanistan were on a roll after the latter edged the excellent Ahmadzai (3-41) behind.

The skipper followed in the next over, Nabi (3-36) trapping him leg before, and Rashid Khan struck twice as Ireland capitulated, losing five wickets for 14 runs to slump to 69-8.

George Dockrell (39) and Murtagh put on 87 for the last wicket to prevent Ireland from being totally humiliated, Ahmadzai finally claiming the elusive final wicket when the spinner nicked through to Ikram Ali Khil.

Mohammad Shahzad made an entertaining 40 before he was caught and bowled by Cameron-Dow, who also snared Ihsanullah (7) lbw, but Rahmat Shah (22 not out) and Hashmatullah Shahidi (13no) were still there at the close.

Team manager Khaled Mashud said Bangladesh players and staff were "very lucky" to escape unharmed as they were "three or four minutes" away from being inside a mosque where a terror attack unfolded on Friday.

Mass shootings at two Christchurch mosques resulted in 49 people being killed and 48 injured.

Mashud revealed that the majority of the tourists' squad were inside a bus outside the Al Noor mosque while a massacre took place and saw "bloodstained people staggering out".

He is quoted as saying by ESPNcricinfo. "This was a kind of accident that we would never expect nor want in any part of the world.

"We are very lucky because we had a number of us, about 17 of us, in the bus. Soumya Sarkar was also there, and we were all heading to the mosque for prayers.

"Only two of the players [Liton Das and Nayeem Hasan, as well as spin-bowling coach Sunil Joshi] had stayed back in the hotel, and rest of the squad had gone there. We were very close to the mosque, and we could see from the bus. We must have been about 50 yards from the mosque.

"I would say we were really lucky. Had we reached even three or four minutes earlier, we probably would have been inside the mosque. This could then have been a massive incident.

"We are very thankful that we weren't caught in the crossfire, but what we saw was straight out of a movie scene. We could see bloodstained people staggering out of the mosque.

"Maybe in about eight-ten minutes, we were all inside the bus and were sitting with our heads bowed, just in case someone fires at us."

The third and final Test at Hagley Oval - which was due to start on Saturday - was called off following the attacks and the Bangladesh squad will fly home as soon as possible.

Mashud said the players and staff ran through Hagley Park to the ground after being allowed to get off the bus.

He added: "When we realised that the shooters could have inflicted more damage if they had found us inside the bus all at once, we took a collective decision to escape through the back gate.

"We ran or quickly walked out through that gate. Then we were in the dressing room, and the local liaison people explained to us how we could get out of there most safely to our hotel.

"It wasn't their fault, they tried their best according to whatever they are used to in their culture. Our players supported them a lot, with inputs on what was needed at that point of time.

"Our decision to get out was timely, because in videos we saw that people came out and kept shooting later."

The International Cricket Council (ICC) has backed the decision to call off the third Test between New Zealand and Bangladesh following the mass shootings in Christchurch.

Bangladesh players narrowly escaped one of the two terror attacks at mosques which resulted in multiple fatalities on Friday.

Tigers team manager Khaled Mashud said members of the team and staff were "about 50 yards" from one of the mosques where a massacre unfolded.

The Black Caps and the Tigers were due to start the third and final match of the series at Hagley Oval on Saturday, but it was agreed that the game will not go ahead and the tourists will fly home as soon as possible.

ICC chief executive David Richardson said: "Our thoughts and sincere condolences go out to the families and friends of those affected by this horrendous incident in Christchurch.

"Both teams, staff and match officials are safe and the ICC fully supports the decision to cancel the Test match."

The two remaining fixtures between the New Zealand Development team and Australia's Under-19 women's team that were due to take place at Lincoln's Bert Sutcliffe Oval this weekend have also been cancelled.

"We are shocked and appalled as I am sure all New Zealanders are,” New Zealand Cricket Chief Executive David White said.

"We are offering support to all those within the teams affected by the situation and are continuing to take advice from authorities on the ground."

 

Three teams can still win the 2019 Six Nations as we enter the final round of matches this weekend.

Wales are in the driving seat, but they must defeat defending champions Ireland in order to be assured of the title and the Grand Slam.

England could also steal victory if Ireland win in Cardiff and Eddie Jones' men defeat Calcutta Cup rivals Scotland.

Meanwhile, there is little on the line for Italy and France as they reprise a usually one-sided fixture.

With the help of Opta, we take a statistical look at the fifth and final round of matches.

Italy v France

Italy have endured another miserable Six Nations campaign and history would suggest it is unlikely to get better against France.

The Azzurri - on a record 21-match losing run in the Six Nations - have only beaten France twice in 19 meetings in the championship, winning just three of 40 such clashes in all competitions. However, Les Bleus have only won once themselves in this campaign.

Sergio Parisse is set to captain Italy for the 50th time in the competition.

Wales v Ireland

The Grand Slam is on the line for Wales as they face defending champions Ireland, with Warren Gatland's men chasing their 12th in tournament history and fourth in the current format. It would also be the fifth time the Grand Slam has been won at the Principality Stadium - Ireland accounted for one of those.

Wales - on a 13-Test win streak - have won their last two home Six Nations matches against Ireland, but Joe Schmidt's men have triumphed in their last four championship away games.

Welsh captain Alun Wyn Jones will win his 134th cap and draw level with Gethin Jenkins as his country's most capped player, fifth in the worldwide list.

England v Scotland

If Wales slip up, England will have the opportunity to take advantage and win the championship if they can beat Calcutta Cup rivals Scotland, who won the sides' last Six Nations meeting.

That was Scotland's first win in 10 against their old rivals in the competition, however, while England have only lost four of the teams' 48 Twickenham clashes - most recently in 1983.

Scotland's last trip to England saw them suffer their joint-worst defeat in the history of this Test fixture, going down 61-21.

The third Test between New Zealand and Bangladesh was cancelled after mass shootings at two mosques in Christchurch on Friday.

Bangladesh players narrowly escaped the shootings at one of the mosques, where New Zealand Police confirmed there were multiple fatalities.

The Black Caps and Bangladesh were due to finish their three-Test series at Hagley Oval beginning on Saturday.

However, the Test was cancelled in a joint decision between the two nations.

"Our heartfelt condolences go out to the families and friends of those affected by the shocking situation in Christchurch," the Black Caps wrote in a statement on Twitter.

"A joint decision between NZC and the @BCBtigers has been made to cancel the Hagley Oval Test.

"Again, both teams and support staff groups are safe."

Bangladesh duo Tamim Iqbal and Mushfiqur Rahim confirmed on Twitter they had only narrowly escaped the shootings.

Bangladesh batsman Tamim Iqbal confirmed the Test team escaped a shooting in Christchurch on Friday.

New Zealand Police confirmed they had responded to shots fired in central Christchurch at around 13:40 local time (00:40 GMT).

They later said there were "multiple fatalities" after shootings at at least two mosques.

Bangladesh are in Christchurch ahead of their third Test against New Zealand, scheduled to start on Saturday, and Tamim tweeted the team had been caught up in the tragedy.

"Entire team got saved from active shooters!!!" Tamim wrote on Twitter.

"Frightening experience and please keep us in your prayers #christchurchMosqueAttack."

Batsman Mushfiqur Rahim also tweeted, writing: "Alhamdulillah Allah save [sic] us today while shooting in Christchurch in the mosque...we r [sic] extremely lucky...never want to see this [sic] things happen again....pray for us."

In a brief statement posted on Twitter, Bangladesh confirmed the team were safe.

"All members of the Bangladesh Cricket Team in Christchurch, New Zealand are safely back in the hotel following the incident of shooting in the city," they said.

"The Bangladesh Cricket Board [BCB] is in constant contact with the players and team management."

Captain Kane Williamson has been ruled out as New Zealand seek a series whitewash in the third Test against Bangladesh.

Black Caps coach Gary Stead confirmed a left pectoral injury will keep the 28-year-old sidelined as batsman Will Young was named for a Test debut at Hagley Oval in Christchurch.

Tim Southee will become the Kiwis' 30th Test captain, while wicketkeeper BJ Watling has been passed fit after recovering from a hamstring injury.

New Zealand clinched innings victories in both of the first two Tests, with Williamson becoming the nation's first batsman to reach 20 centuries and also their fastest to get to 6,000 runs during the opener in Hamilton.

Despite Williamson showing improvements since the second Test in Wellington, Stead has no intentions of risking his captain.

"Kane is obviously a really important player for us and with the nature of the injury we couldn't be sure he wouldn't aggravate it," said Stead.

"He's improving every day and will continue his rehabilitation as planned.

"Will has been waiting in the wings for a while now and he'll get a great opportunity batting at number three in a settled line-up."

World Rugby has outlined its revised proposal for an overhaul of international rugby union, including details of its Nations Championship concept.

The sport's governing body presented its plans to major stakeholders in Dublin on Thursday.

A subsequent statement detailed a "game-changing" new competition, the Nations Championship, which would see promotion and relegation from its three divisions.

World Rugby says the competition would bring a commercial deal with sports marketing company Infront which would guarantee "almost £5billion for investment in the sport over an initial 12-year period".

It added that revisions had been made to a previous proposal in September last year.

There would be no semi-final stage and players would play 11 Nations Championship matches, which would rise to 12 if a team reached the final.

World Rugby promised to work with the International Rugby Players (IRP) and leading figures in the club game on the format, while investing in a Women's Nations Championship.

Player of the year Johnny Sexton had been among IRP council members who last month raised concerns about reported changes to the international game, including the introduction of a World League.

World Rugby responded then by saying its "commitment to player welfare matters is unwavering".

In Thursday's statement, World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont said: "I would like to thank my union, competition and player representative colleagues for their candid, constructive and positive contributions.

"There was strong recognition that World Rugby's Nations Championship proposal, based on a true pathway for all, has been developed with great care, extensive evaluation and with the global game at the forefront of our thinking.

"We are encouraged that the format revisions and robust financial model has been well-received."

He added: "As you would expect in an ambitious, complex and multi-stakeholder project, not everyone is in full agreement on the way forward, including the matter of promotion and relegation, but we will continue to engage and consult."

Sean O'Brien has returned to the Ireland side while Tadhg Beirne will make his Six Nations debut in Saturday's crunch clash with Wales.

Joe Schmidt's men must defeat Grand Slam-chasing Wales to have any hope of retaining the championship, but they have been hit by a pair of injuries.

Josh van der Flier was withdrawn in the first half of last week's win over France due to a groin injury and so O'Brien, who lost his place to the winger, is back in the team.

Iain Henderson is also unable to make the trip to Cardiff, meaning Beirne plays for the first time in this campaign.

Beirne made his international debut in Australia last year and has four caps to his name ahead of his Six Nations bow.

Rob Kearney is fit to start, however, having withdrawn late on last week as Jordan Larmour started in his place.

Ireland: Rob Kearney, Keith Earls, Garry Ringrose, Bundee Aki, Jacob Stockdale, Jonathan Sexton, Conor Murray; Cian Healy, Rory Best (captain), Tadhg Furlong, Tadhg Beirne, James Ryan, Peter O'Mahony, Sean O'Brien, CJ Stander.

Replacements: Niall Scannell, Dave Kilcoyne, Andrew Porter, Quinn Roux, Jack Conan, Kieran Marmion, Jack Carty, Jordan Larmour.

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