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Wonderful Welsh dominate our Six Nations Team of the Week

Who stood out for you?

THE OPENING WEEKEND of the Six Nations was a barn-burner. While the overall level of performance of a few teams didn’t hit expectations, the level of drama completely over-shot them. Here are the men who made things happen in the opening three matches.

15. Leigh Halfpenny (Wales)

Typical, a fullback waits five years to score a Test try and then two come along at once!

Leigh Halfpenny scores their third try Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Halfpenny’s overdue tries for Wales were the icing on the cake of a superbly assured display. His positioning cut off many Scottish sparks and his goal-kicking remained flawless whatever the angle.

14. Anthony Watson (England)

England’s set-moves were slick throughout, but they were made to look all the more impressive by Watson’s electric pace and powerful fends as he made his way to the corner.

Jack Nowell, Anthony Watson and Harry Williams celebrate after the game Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

13. Bundee Aki (Ireland)

Bundee Aki and Matthieu Jalibert Source: James Crombie/INPHO

For the most part, we try to keep Team of the Week players in the position they played in, but on his Six Nations debut the Connacht man was a vital carrying weapon from start to glorious finish on a tough night in Paris.

12. Owen Farrell (England)

Owen Farrell scores their third try Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

The second five-eighth option made England’s set-plays flow smoothly, but he seems to be adding scything running lines to his repertoire as a centre. Effective in defence too, with commendable work-rate at the breakdown on top of his ever-aggressive tackling.

11. Steff Evans (Wales)

HIs brilliant finish in the left corner would have been the highlight reel-moment on any other weekend. Brimming with energy and looks a constant threat to break the line and will thrive in a Welsh team stretching defences.

Source: Six Nations Rugby/YouTube

10. Jonathan Sexton (Ireland)

Tom Brady’s trademark two-minute warning drive suffered a false start, but sportsfans weren’t denied a defining clutch moment of the weekend thanks to Sexton’s five minute and four second orchestration leading up to that astounding match-winner.

Source: Six Nations Rugby/YouTube

9. Gareth Davies (Wales)

Picked off his opposite number Ali Price to change the flow of the game irrevocably in the opening minutes. Set the marvellous high tempo to the Welsh attack.

Source: Six Nations Rugby/YouTube

1. Mako Vunipola (England)

Stood up to Italy’s traditional strength in the scrum and added those terrific soft hands to sweeping moves to change the point of attack with aplomb.

Sebastian Negri and Tommaso Boni with Mako Vunipola Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

2. Guilhem Guirado (France)

You had to feel for the skipper as the camera lingered on him after Sexton’s moment of glory. He departed the scene with his team in the lead and in the ascendancy. France’s failings are not easily fixed, but with a jaw-dropping 31 tackles Guirado leads by example.

Guilhem Guirado Source: James Crombie/INPHO

3. Samson Lee (Wales)

Emblematic of Wales’ fresh ball-playing approach was the sight of their tighthead offloading and flicking on passes and he can still scrummage pretty well too.

4. Alun Wyn Jones (Wales)

A 32-year-old lock isn’t supposed to look like he is reinventing himself into a Leone Nakarawa-like ball-player. Alun Wyn Jones looked to be thoroughly enjoying his role as enforcer/playmaker with line-breaks and offloads to set the touchpaper on Wales’ campaign.

Alun Wyn Jones makes a break Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

5. Iain Henderson (Ireland)

Iain Henderson wins a restart over Teddy Thomas Source: James Crombie/INPHO

James Ryan rightly got plenty of plaudits for his strength in contact, but Henderson was a source of gainline right until the sweet, sweet end for Ireland. Caught the 22 restart to make the finale possible and then won the crucial extra metres to get Sexton in range with a powerful spring when most players would have been forgiven for sinking to their knees and recycling.

6. Peter O’Mahony (Ireland)

Sébastien Vahaamahina and Peter O’Mahony Source: James Crombie/INPHO

In a grim arm-wrestle of a game, O’Mahony was a constant thorn for France at ruck time. His one last gutsy clear-out gave Conor Murray the space to whip a pass back to Sexton in the pocket, but his fingerprints were all over the 41-phase march up the field.

7. Josh Navidi (Wales)

More than justified his selection ahead of Justin Tipuric. Forced two vital penalties on his own line to quash Scottish attacks and greased the wheels on a superb curtain-raising performance from Wales.

Josh Navidi and Tommy Seymour Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

8. Sam Simmonds (England)

Terrific power to break for his two tries. Looked well and truly part of the machine on his debut and topped England’s tackle charts – a full seven clear of nearest challenger Chris Robshaw -  with 22, none missed.

Source: Six Nations Rugby/YouTube

Replacements

16. Ken Owens (Wales)

17. Cian Healy (Ireland)

18. Tadhg Furlong (Ireland)

19. Joe Launchbury (England)

20. Dan Leavy (Ireland)

21. Conor Murray (Ireland)

22. Rhys Patchell (Wales)

23. Teddy Thomas (France)

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About the author:

Sean Farrell

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