Wednesday 8 February 2023 Dublin: 5°C
# dream team
Three Irish players make the cut in The42's Six Nations Team of the Week
Wales lead the way with six after they derailed Ireland’s Grand Slam bid in Cardiff.

15. Leigh Halfpenny

Cathal Noonan / INPHO Cathal Noonan / INPHO / INPHO

The Welsh full-back was his usual excellent self, setting the tone early on with a fine aerial display. Finished with five from six with the boot, a missed conversion the only blip.

14. Jack Nowell

RBS 6 Nations / YouTube

Wearing 11 on Saturday, Nowell made the most metres of any player this weekend — 161m on 14 carries — and showed some lovely footwork for his try.

13. Mark Bennett

RBS 6 Nations / YouTube

Bennett has been a revelation for Scotland and he was one of their standout men in the Twickenham defeat, crossing for a try in the first half.

12. Jonathan Davies

Jonathan Sexton handed off by Jonathan Davies Dan Sheridan / INPHO Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

There was only room for one Welsh centre and Davies gets the nod over midfield partner Jamie Roberts. When he left Johnny Sexton on his arse early on, it set the tone for an impressive afternoon that not even his late yellow card could tarnish.

11. Liam Williams

Crispin Rodwell / INPHO Crispin Rodwell / INPHO / INPHO

Wales were obviously ready for Ireland’s kicking game and on the left wing, Williams gobbled up everything that came at him, rarely giving the chasing Irish a sniff.

10. George Ford

RBS 6 Nations / YouTube

Orchestrated England’s back play with authority, settled any nerves with a try early in the second half, and probably deserved man of the match.

9. Ben Youngs

Andrew Fosker / INPHO Andrew Fosker / INPHO / INPHO

Named man of the match at Twickenham, and linked well with Ford again. They’re becoming a formidable half-back pairing.

1. Jack McGrath

Cathal Noonan / INPHO Cathal Noonan / INPHO / INPHO

The Irish scrum was rock-solid for the most part and McGrath deserves serious credit for his contribution.

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2. Scott Baldwin

Dan Sheridan / INPHO Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

Baldwin’s lineout was made to look even more impressive by Ireland’s dysfunctional set-piece. Contributed plenty to the heroic Welsh defensive effort as well, putting in 20 tackles.

3. Nicolas Mas

James Crombie / INPHO James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

Returned to the French front row and made sure it held firm in face of the dangerous Italian scrum.

4. Luke Charteris

Cathal Noonan / INPHO Cathal Noonan / INPHO / INPHO

The outstanding performer of the weekend? Put in a massive 37 tackles as Wales repelled everything that Ireland threw at them.

5. Paul O’Connell

Dan Sheridan / INPHO Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

Marked his 100th Irish cap with a typical display at the breakdown and with ball in hand. Even popped up in midfield for a couple of line breaks.

6. Sean O’Brien

Cathal Noonan / INPHO Cathal Noonan / INPHO / INPHO

Racked up a team-high 19 carries and was generally a nuisance as Ireland tried to gain ground wherever they could.

7. Sam Warburton

Billy Stickland / INPHO Billy Stickland / INPHO / INPHO

Man of the match and deservedly so. Second only to Charteris with 30 tackles, wrecked Rory Best’s head in the lineout, and never gave Ireland a moment’s peace (apart from the 10 minutes he spent in the sin-bin).

8. Billy Vunipola

Andrew Fosker / INPHO Andrew Fosker / INPHO / INPHO

Human wrecking ball and made sure England’s half-backs had plenty of go-forward ball at their disposal.

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