chariots of fire

Chin up, it's The42's Six Nations Team of the Week

How many Irish players would you have picked for the best XV of round one?

ROUND ONE OF the 2019 Six Nations is in the books, no resets, no back-tracking and no reigning champ in the best XV of the weekend.

15. Liam Williams (Wales)

Was not mired in Wales’ poor overall performance in the first-half. Came agonisingly close to a try from his own excellent break, was brilliant in the air and a constant threat on the counter.

Liam Williams tackled by Morgan Parra James Crombie / INPHO James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

14. George North (Wales)

Gifted his opening try, but deserves immense credit for his intercept before powering clear to seal a brilliant Welsh comeback in Paris. That city has a way of inspiring visiting teams to great things. 

13. Henry Slade (England)

Took the game and then a bonus point for his side when he scored crucial second half tries. His best international performance to date, delivering on all the potential brilliance he shows week-in week-out with Exeter.

Guinness Six Nations / YouTube

12. Manu Tuilagi (England)

A sensational return to the Six Nations after five years away. Made us all remember the force he is capable of being with bone-shuddering carries into contact.

11. Blair Kinghorn (Scotland)

Hard to keep out a hat-trick scorer and Kinghorn is fast becoming one of the best finishers in Europe. 

Guinness Six Nations / YouTube

10. Owen Farrell (England)

Ice cold off the kicking tee and full of fire when England were in defence, whether it was him or a man within ear-shot who was making the tackle. Expertly exposed Joe Schmidt’s decision to plunge Robbie Henshaw back to his old position at the very deep end.

Owen Farrell celebrates after scoring a penalty Billy Stickland / INPHO Billy Stickland / INPHO / INPHO

9. Ben Youngs (England)

Excelled in all the areas Ireland hoped Conor Murray would dominate. Dictated the tempo and pulled the strings on England’s terrific kick-chase game.

1. Mako Vunipola (England)

Mako Vunipola with Johnny Sexton Gary Carr / INPHO Gary Carr / INPHO / INPHO

Perhaps the player of the round, constantly made ground carrying into Ireland to help England re-take the title as tournament bullies and denied the champions room to manoeuvre with a jaw-dropping 27 tackles to his name.

2. Stuart McInally (Scotland)

Kept the line-out humming with his darts and continually popped up around the park for his side. The score was 33-3 when he was called ashore and Scotland deteriorated from there.

3. Kyle Sinckler (England)

The vocal volume of England’s effort in contact did not go unnoticed by Joe Schmidt and few howled more positive notes for his side than Kyle Sinckler. At one point he half apologised to referee Jerome Garces, saying: ‘sorry, sir. I’m very excited’. And he had reason to be as he ate through tackles, carries and clean-outs for his team.

4. Maro Itoje (England)

Maro Itoje celebrates his side winning a turnover Gary Carr / INPHO Gary Carr / INPHO / INPHO

His game ended with him literally on one leg after he peeled himself off the turn and got into the defensive line despite a knee injury. Fortunate that his knee to Keith Earls midriff did not earn a sanction, but didn’t waste another second on the park as he led the physicality stakes that Ireland could not match.

5. Grant Gilchrist (Scotland)

Unlucky not to get on the scoreboard, but couldn’t be kept off the stats sheet thanks to his 19 tackles. Ensured Scotland remained on top of set-piece as he ran a seamless line-out.

6. Josh Navidi (Wales)

Excelled at the breakdown as Wales battled back to beat France. Made big yardage the few times he did carry and ran his fellow flanker close in the tackle count.

7. Justin Tipuric (Wales)

France’s Camille Lopez tries to drop a goal despite Wales Justin Tipuric Inpho / Billy Stickland Inpho / Billy Stickland / Billy Stickland

Popped up everywhere his side needed him, topping the tackle charts with 19, getting a hand to a drop-goal attempt and relentless in his work to turn the French tide.

8. Louis Picamoles (France)

A massive reason why France looked ideally set with 40 minutes played. Capped an impressive night of carrying with his try.

Coach: Eddie Jones / YouTube

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