Following an opening week void of too many exciting tries to talk about, the Six Nations’ second weekend saw the action kick on a bit. France were the victors in a tight encounter with an under-performing Ireland, Wales hit their stride late on in a thrilling match against the Scottish and England opened the floodgates in Rome, scoring 40 points to Italy’s 9. With plenty of spectacular performances to choose from, here is my team of the Six Nation’s second round of fixtures:
Loosehead Prop – Rob Evans (Wales)
Scarlets youngster Rob Evans was again very impressive in a tough game against the Scottish. Not only was his scrummaging very effective against Scotland’s WP Nel, but he was also a dominant figure in defence, making 13 tackles in just the first half. Evans carried very well all game and acted as an important part in his side’s reversal in fortunes. With perfromances like that he is destined to have a bright future for Wales.
Hooker – Guilhelm Guirado (France)
France’s huge win at the weekend was largely down to the fierce tenacity of their Captain Guilhelm Guirado, as he made some huge hits on Saturday afternoon, whilst also leaving his mark at scrum time. Guirado’s truly inspirational Captain’s performance was a huge component of this surprising victory for the French, as their title chances now look all the more positive.
Tighthead Prop – Dan Cole (England)
Dan Cole is such constant performer for England, so much so that he is often over-looked in such spectacular English victories. Dominating for England at scrum time, Cole is a powerhouse for his country as he made it to every breakdown battling ferociously against a strong Italian pack.
Second Row – Luke Charteris (Wales)
Despite only being on the pitch for 47 minutes, Charteris put in a mammoth shift for the Welsh. Excellent in the lineout and defence, he made 10 tackles and won two turnovers for his side. A huge amount of credit needs to also be given for his ability to defend driving lineouts, a crucial part to his and the Welsh game.
Second Row –George Kruis (England)
Another top draw performance from the young second row sees him continually keeping out the likes of more marquee names such as Lawes and Launchbury to be the first name on Eddie Jones’ team sheet. Making 13 tackles and winning four turnovers, Kruis was a rock in the English defence and is staking a claim as one of the players of the tournament.
Blindside Flanker –CJ Stander (Ireland)
Stander built on his impressive start in the tournament last week, again standing out as Ireland’s star player and arguably one of their only players to come out of their clash with France with any merit. A strong and fast carrier of the ball, making 14 metres off of his 9 carries, Stander is a solid part of the Irish pack also making 15 tackles defensively. Works tirelessly for the Irish and will be a crucial part of the Ireland setup for many years to come.
Openside Flanker – John Hardie (Scotland)
Again another of last week’s team that made it in for a second consecutive week is the astounding Scottish flanker John Hardie. Constantly disrupting the Welsh ball and making a nuisance of himself at every breakdown, Hardie is quickly establishing himself as one of the best openside flankers in Europe. Even more must be made of the fact that he was up against two top-class players in the form of Sam Warburton and Justin Tipuric.
Number Eight – Taulupe Faletau (Wales)
Once again it was the same trio of Taulupe Faletau, Sergio Parisse and Billy Vunipola all vying for position in this week’s Team of the Week, but for me it would have to go to the Welshman. Anchoring the Welsh forwards and making 14 tackles in the game, Faletau is a crucial component of the Welsh side putting in his characteristically muscular performance. A huge carrier of the ball and a consistent performer for Wales.
Scrum Half – Gareth Davies (Wales)
There are a number of candidates for this position. Greig Laidlaw had a great game for Scotland, as did both of England’s two scrum halves Ben Youngs and Danny Care. However, Wales’ Gareth Davies has to be named scrum half of the weekend solely for the impact he had in points scoring. Making 59 metres off of 6 carries, Davies also managed a try and assist in what was a very influential game for the Scarlets scrum half. He perfectly dictated the play, organised his pack well and thrived off of the quick ball that often caught the Scots out.
Fly Half – Dan Biggar (Wales)
Returning to the starting line-up following an injury in opening game against Ireland, Biggar showcased the full extent of his kicking prowess as he executed 21 kicks in the game whilst also boasting a 100% success rate in both conversions and penalties. His role in both tries (one from the boot and one from the hand) should also not be understated, as he remains such a pivotal playmaker in the Welsh side.
Left Wing – Tommy Seymour (Scotland)
Whilst actually playing right wing, Tommy Seymour’s display for Scotland against Wales on Saturday was more than worthy of making the team. A valiant effort from the Scot, despite his team’s loss saw him score a try in the 13th minute as well as making 29 metres from nine carries. Even more spectacular was his dealing with Wales’ aerial bombardment, claiming seven balls including the one he caught to score his try from Finn Russel’s chip over the top.
Inside Centre – Jamie Roberts (Wales)
Another Welsh victory and yet again another Man of the Match performance from inside centre Jamie Roberts. Not only was he a brick wall in the Welsh defensive line (putting in nine tackles) but also scored a try off of a powerful, defensive splitting run, which also proved to be the game changing moment for Wales in what had been a very cagey affair. Surely one of the best centres in the Northern hemisphere.
Outside Centre – Jonathan Joseph (England)
Relatively quiet in England’s opening game against Scotland, Joseph showed his lethal capabilities scoring a hat-trick of tries against the Italians. The Bath centre showed what he is capable of, gaining 75 metres with 12 carries as he put in a performance more reminiscent of last year’s Six Nations tournament. This was also a particularly important performance for Joseph personally, given the current hype surrounding fellow English centre Elliot Daly. Notable performances also came from Italy’s Michele Campagnaro and Ireland’s Jared Payne, however it would be difficult not to include a player who scored three tries.
Right Wing – George North (Wales)
One of the biggest names in the tournament, George North, was given few opportunities to demonstrate his capabilities in the tough draw with Ireland on the first weekend of the tournament. In what was a far more open game against Scotland, North gained 99 metres off of his eight carries, beating eight defenders and capping off a great return to form with a blistering try that saw him shimmy past a series of defenders before powering for the line. A mark of intent from one of Wales’ greatest weapons.
Full Back – Maxime Medard (France)
Medard injected a bit of life into what was otherwise a rather congested affair in Paris. Scoring the only and all important try in the game, Medard was an exciting attacking option for the French, also making 87 metres off of his 15 carries and beating four defenders. However, he was just as rigid in defence and the quality of his kicking game kept the Irish at bay. A fine performance from the fullback in a French team defying all expectations in this year’s tournament.