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Terrific Thomas, excellent Earls and the rest of our Six Nations Team of the Week

Scotland got back in the winners’ circle. England and Ireland marched on. But who stood out for you?

ROUND TWO OF the 2018 Six Nations is in the can, Ireland lead the table (just), England continue to roll and  Scotland are back. Here are 23 of the best performers we watched this weekend.

15. Mike Brown (England)

Don’t mind Eddie Jones, Brown has had a long, quiet stretch at Test level, but when called upon to deal with aerial bombardment from Wales, he stood up to the task and carried dangerously for good measure.

Josh Navidi competes for a high ball with Mike Brown Source: James Crombie/INPHO

14. Keith Earls (Ireland)

A try, a try-saving tackle made with the game not even on the line and countless clever half-breaks and support lines.

Keith Earls claims a cross field kick Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

At the peak of his powers.

13. Huw Jones (Scotland)

Delicious line for a try which dragged Scotland back into the contest against France and continual line-breaking threat for Gregor Townsend’s side.

Source: Six Nations Rugby/YouTube

12. Bundee Aki (Ireland)

He and Joe Schmidt were on the same hymn-sheet post-match stressing the need to tidy up his handling, but Aki was once again superb in green. Slick passes and power in contact give Ireland so many options in attack. His importance for Schmidt grows even more with the loss of Robbie Henshaw to injury.

Bundee Aki with Luca Bigi Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

11. Teddy Thomas (France)

Les Bleus have suffered two narrow defeats in the Championship, but both matches would have been lacking in drama were it not for electric finishes from Thomas. We can pick holes in defence all day, but sometimes you have to doff the chapeau to a brilliant attacker.

Source: Six Nations Rugby/YouTube

10. Owen Farrell (England)

A centre, and utterly ferocious in every tackle he engaged in, but out-half this week thanks in no small part to that majestic quick-thinking and ball-striking to put the early game-swinging try on a plate for Jonny May. Got hammered while whipping a pass wide in the lead up to May’s second too.

Source: Six Nations Rugby/YouTube

9. Greig Laidlaw (Scotland)

Flawless off the tee in a tense, tight contest and — very French — guided Scotland well when he shifted seamlessly to out-half late on.

Greig Laidlaw son Ruary look on as his father is interviewed after the game Source: James Crombie/INPHO

1. Mako Vunipola (England)

Scrummaged well throughout a commendable 76-minute stint and contributed his usual emphatic impacts around the park with 15 carries and 17 tackles.

Mako Vunipola tackled by Samson Lee Source: James Crombie/INPHO

2. Ken Owens (Wales)

Kept the Welsh line-out strong with 100% return on his throw across some formidable opposition jumpers. Gained yardage in the carry throughout.

Ken Owens Source: James Crombie/INPHO

3. Andrew Porter (Ireland)

Andrew Porter Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Hard to tell these days that the 22-year-old was a loosehead little over a year ago. Called into action far earlier than expected after Tadhg Furlong’s knock, yet all-but bounced through to full-time. “77 minutes and I think he just got the engine running”, as Joe Schmidt put it.

4. Joe Launchbury (England)

Source: Six Nations Rugby/YouTube

Kieran Read-esque carry and offload to set up May’s second try. That was the icing on the cake of another outstanding day’s work for the Wasps man. Only Josh Navidi made more than his 19 tackles in the game and only Vunipola and Brown carried more for England.

5. Grant Gilchrist (Scotland)

Another lock with an enormous workload in the books this weekend, a necessity against a big cumbersome French side. Along with a seeming ever-presence at rucks, he displayed nice hands for Sean Maitland’s try.

Rabah Slimani and Grant Gilchrist Source: James Crombie/INPHO

6. Aaron Shingler (Wales)

Another storming display from the Welsh blindside. His long stride and speed off the mark is the bane of tacklers and stole a line-out for good measure.

Source: Six Nations Rugby/YouTube

7. Hamish Watson (Scotland)

Set the tone for Scotland’s bounceback performance and was excellent at the breakdown through the full 80.

David Denton and Hamish Watson celebrate Source: James Crombie/INPHO

8. Chris Robshaw (England)

Switched from the flank to number eight at half-time and carried and tackled himself to a standstill. At the heart of everything in an arm-wrestle of a game.

Chris Robshaw on the attack Source: Andrew Fosker/INPHO

Replacements

16. Guilhem Guirado (France)

17. Jamie Bhatti (Scotland)

18. Simon Bergham (Scotland)

19. Maro Itoje (England)

20. Sam Underhill (England)

21. Conor Murray (Ireland)

22.George Ford (England)

23. Jacob Stockdale (Ireland)

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About the author:

Sean Farrell

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