Saturday 28 January 2023 Dublin: 6°C
# dream team
Here’s The42′s team of the week after the second round of the Six Nations
There is a healthy Irish representation after their win over France.

15. Stuart Hogg

Stuart Hogg celebrates his try Andrew Fosker / INPHO Andrew Fosker / INPHO / INPHO

Leigh Haflpenny could have taken this spot but we stuck with Hogg for the second consecutive week. Hogg scored a scintillating try, made 123 metres and beat five defenders in another classy display.

14. Tommy Bowe

Didn’t get a whole lot of attacking opportunities but made seven tackles and crucially won two restarts that led to six points for Ireland.

13. Jonathan Joseph

The comparisons to Jeremy Guscott may be a little premature but for the second week in succession JJ lit up the Six Nations with some smooth running. He leads the championship with three tries in two games and it will be interesting to see how the Irish defence deals with him in two weeks time.

12. Robbie Henshaw

France's Wesley Fofana is tackled by IrelandÕs Robbie Henshaw Inpho / Billy Stickland Inpho / Billy Stickland / Billy Stickland

Like Bowe, Henshaw wasn’t given much room in attack but it was in defence where he excelled – especially towards the end when it was constant French attacks – by making 16 tackles.

11. Liam Williams

It is tough to ask someone to replace George North but Williams tried his best, making the key break for Rhys Webb’s try and having a score of his own ruled out by the TMO. His in-your-face style doesn’t win him any fans but the wing gave a good account of himself in his first start of the 2015 Six Nations.

10. Johnny Sexton

He probably couldn’t open his eye this morning but Sexton was heroic for Ireland yesterday. From helping to choke tackle Bastareaud to executing the kicking game to perfection, the out-half highlighted once again how important he is to Joe Schmidt’s strategy.

9. Conor Murray

Conor Murray passes James Crombie / INPHO James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

It is fitting that Ireland play in England in week three because after two matchdays Conor Murray and Ben Youngs are neck-and-neck for who is having the better tournament. Murray’s box kicks hung in the air just long enough to allow the Irish chasers to smash the French ball carriers. You can’t ask for much more in that regard.

1. Jack McGrath

With Cian Healy on the bench McGrath would have wanted a strong performance to show his coach that he is the man for the number one jersey and the incumbent delivered on Saturday night. Eight tackles and two turnovers is a very good innings for a loosehead prop and he scrummaged reasonably well too.

2. Ross Ford

No hooker really stood out this weekend but Ford had a nice outing for Scotland, registering seven tackles and throwing well at the lineout.

3. Uini Atonio

Devin Toner and Paul O'Connell with Uini Atonio Ryan Byrne / INPHO Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

Atonio was only introduced in the second half but it isn’t an understatement to say his introduction changed the game for France. He scrummaged powerfully and showed lovely hands, especially an offload over the head of Sexton that helped create the French try.

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4. Devin Toner

Another quietly effective performance from the Leinster second row. Toner was Ireland’s main lineout target and made the second most tackles on the team.

5. Alun Wyn Jones

Jones gained the most metres of any Welsh forward and made the second most tackles on the team. Given how often Wales were defending their own line, that is a decent achievement.

6. Peter O’Mahony

Peter O'Mahony Dan Sheridan / INPHO Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

O’Mahony came up with a few crucial steals for Ireland – one in particular may have prevented a try – and he even got to show off his kicking skills at one stage.

7. Chris Robshaw

James Haskell is attracting more attention at the moment but the numbers Robshaw is putting up are very impressive. He led the team in turnovers and tackles against Italy – what more do you want from your openside and captain?

8. Billy Vunipola

He was awarded a very dubious try but Vunipola was at his rampaging best besides that, averaging over five metres per carry.

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