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Dublin: 12°C Friday 14 May 2021

Just one Irishman makes our Six Nations team of the weekend

After another exciting weekend of European international rugby, here’s the XV we felt stood out.

Mike Brown was sensational in Twickenham.
Mike Brown was sensational in Twickenham.
Image: ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

15. Mike Brown

Possibly the player of the Six Nations weekend, the Harlequins fullback was at his very best. Some take issue with the 28-year-old’s aggression levels, but this is a guy you want on your team. Ran for 82 metres, beat five defenders, gave a try assist and was positionally faultless.

14. Yoann Huget

The Toulouse wing has been a standout player for France so far in this competition, and he was a threat once again in Cardiff. Always managed to get beyond defenders even in little space and offloaded out of the tackle twice. Defensively flimsy, as always, but his attacking skills gave France some hope.

13. Alex Dunbar

The 23-year-old had looked less than impressive in the opening two rounds, but the difference on Saturday was that Scotland’s forwards provided better quality possession. Dunbar benefited greatly as he scored two tries, beat five defenders, and made four passes, while also completing seven tackles. [Should have passed for his first try].

12. Jamie Roberts

Wales are at their most effective when they can get the powerful inside centre onto the front foot and charging directly at the defensive line. That happened to wonderful effect at the Millenium stadium as Roberts targeted Jules Plisson’s weak tackling. Repeatedly made gainline advances and provided a focal point for Wales’ attack.

Brice Dulin tries to get between George North and Jamie Roberts Roberts [right] gets ready to close the door on Brice Dulin. Source: ©INPHO/Andrew Fosker

11. Jonny May

We had to wait until cap number three to see exactly the running threat that the Gloucester youngster can offer for England. May has admitted that even he sometimes doesn’t know where he is heading when on the ball, but is certainly effective. Two clean line-breaks helped him run for 80 metres and he completed all five of his tackles.

10. Owen Farrell

The Englishman came out on top of his positional head-to-head against the man he learned so much from during last year’s Lions tour. Farrell lacks genuine vision currently, but his mental strength is hugely impressive. Defensively very effective, making 13 tackles, while his seven kicks from hand were solid too.

9. Danny Care

England had less overall possession than Ireland on Saturday, but Care ensured that they made best use of their share. The lively scrum-half prompted his powerful forwards onto the ball over the course of 60 passes, as well as showing his excellent awareness to be in position to take a pass from Brown and score the winning try.

1. Gethin Jenkins

While Sam Warburton would have been our choice as man of the match in Wales’ big win over the French, Jenkins was not undeserving. Didn’t feature in attack prominently, but made six tackles and forced a turnover, as well as grappling well in the tight. In terms of the set-piece, the Blues prop made an important contribution too.

Gethin Jenkins dejected after being yellow carded Relief for Jenkins as Wales get back on track after their Dublin disappointment. Source: ©INPHO/James Crombie

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2. Scott Lawson

One of the major factors in Scotland’s poor displays against England and Ireland was the malfunctioning line-out, as well as a general lack of ‘fight’ up front. In came Lawson at hooker and played a role in the Scots winning 10 from 10 out of touch, as well as making 11 carries as the pack provided their backline with more possession.

3. Mike Ross

Ross is coming under pressure for his place at both international and provincial level with the emergence of Martin Moore, but his display at scrum time was a reminder that the 34-year-old is not finished yet. His lifting and mauling contributions were impressive yet again, while he chipped in with 11 tackles and four carries in phase play.

4. Joe Launchbury

An announcement of a performance from the 22-year-old England lock. There had been disappointing elements in his displays against France and Scotland, but last weekend Launchbury was near perfect. 18 tackles and two turnovers were vital, while his set-piece efforts were also important. His tap tackle on Dave Kearney was inspirational.

5. Richie Gray

It was difficult to understand how Scotland could leave out one of their few potentially world-class players in the opening two rounds and Gray highlighted Scott Johnson’s error with his performance against Italy. Made all 12 of his tackle attempts, carried 11 times and contributed to a 100% return at the line-out.

Leonardo Sarto tackles Richie Gray Gray attempts to offload as he gets tackled into touch. Source: ©INPHO/Cathal Noonan

6. Dan Lydiate

Racing Métro haven’t quite seemed to figure it out yet, but Lydiate is at his best when fully focused on defending. There are deficiencies in his ball carrying, but Wales just don’t ask him to do much of it at all [two carries for one metre vs. France]. Instead, he is free to chop at attackers’ ankles all day and he made 15 technically good tackles on Friday night.

7. Sam Warburton

What a difference an extra two weeks worth of fitness makes. The Welsh captain was back to somewhere approaching his peak level of form as he won three turnovers to frustrate France. Scored a try, made 11 strong tackles and simply led by example when Warren Gatland needed him to.

8. Sergio Parisse

The 30-year-old gave everything he had as Italy came up just short of their first Six Nations win of the year against the Scots. Consistently made big yardage when it looked like he wouldn’t, driving his legs through the contact. His draw and pass for Josh Furno’s try seemed straightforward, but that didn’t make the execution any less laudable.

Who would you have picked in the Six Nations team of the weekend and why?

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About the author:

Murray Kinsella

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