With the second round of the 2017 Six Nations in the books we pick out the best players to make our Team of the Week.
England made it two victories from two while Ireland and France got back to winning ways, with Wales, Italy and Scotland falling to losses.
Let’s see who made the cut.
Team of the Week: Six Nations, Round 2
15 Stuart Hogg (Scotland): Excellent for the second straight week for Scotland as he opened the try scoring in Paris. On his nine runs he beat five defenders for 84 metres, and with Warren Gatland watching, continues to push for British and Irish Lions Test selection.
14 Keith Earls (Ireland): Gets the nod ahead of Sean Maitland and Jack Nowell, who were impressive for Scotland and England respectively. But Earls, with two well-taken tries and an assist, is handed our 14 jersey, capitalising on all the opportunities that came his way.
13 Garry Ringrose (Ireland): A brilliant individual try brought further comparisons to a young Brian O’Driscoll. Ringrose looks a real talent at outside centre as he topped metres made in Rome, seeing off Wales’ Jonathan Davies who, despite missing touch, performed well.
12 Owen Farrell (England): Yet another outstanding performance from Farrell, with his distribution again seeing England get a win on the board. That pass for Elliot Daly’s score was pinpoint as he gets in ahead of Gaël Fickou and Scott Williams as our number twelve.
11 Liam Williams (Wales): To nudge out Elliot Daly and Simon Zebo after their showings for England and Ireland takes some doing. Zebo in particular was excellent in Rome but Williams’ determination and try summed up just how crucial he is to Wales. Such a threat.
10 Dan Biggar (Wales): Despite finishing on the losing side against England, Biggar was one of the standout performers as he kept the opposition on their toes with a fine attacking display. The Ospreys stalwart gained 73 metres with ball in hand from nine runs with two clean breaks and two defenders beaten. Ireland’s Paddy Jackson and Camille Lopez of France also impressed.
9 Conor Murray (Ireland): Caught the eye with an assured performance in his side’s one-side win against Italy in Rome. Murray was the perfect link between his forwards and outside backs and varied his play well with clever offloads and box kicks. His crisp service to Jackson also impressed and he comes in ahead of Rhys Webb of Wales.
8 Ross Moriarty (Wales): Delivered arguably his best performance at Test level and his substitution in the 52nd minute in Cardiff was a baffling one by Rob Howley. Moriarty took the fight to England with ball in hand but made his biggest impact in defence where he made 10 tackles, several of which were big hits which halted England’s momentum. Edges out Ireland’s Jamie Heaslip and Louis Picamoles of France.
7 Kévin Gourdon (France): Played on the blindside but we had to include him in our side after a superb allround effort in France’s triumph over Scotland. Gourdon did his bit with ball in hand, gaining 45 metres from 11 runs with one defender beaten and an offload but also impressed in defence with 13 hits.
6 CJ Stander (Ireland): The Munsterman made history when he became the first forward to score a Six Nations hat-trick in his side’s demolition of Italy. That was well deserved as he was a thorn in the Azzurri‘s flesh on attack, gaining 73 metres from 22 runs with two clean brekas and 11 defenders beaten. Also shone in defence with 11 tackles and beats out Wales’ Sam Warburton.
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5 Courtney Lawes (England): The behemoth lock displayed an incredible spate of form over the weekend in his side’s win over Wales. Lawesk showed intelligence and mobility after making a whopping 20 tackles on the day. He was also astute on attack after making 10 runs, beating two defenders in the process. Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones deserves a mention after making 10 tackles and 12 runs in the same fixture.
4 Joe Launchbury (England): The Wasps lock was a defensive dynamo against Wales, as he racked up a massive 23 tackles, a phenomenal number for any position on the field and especially a second-row. Launchbury also made some valuable offloads while taking crash 18 times. Wales’s Jake Ball gets a mention for making 11 tackles.
3 Uini Atonio (France): Scotland won’t forget the name of the New Zealand-born front-row after Atonio gave the visitors a lesson in the dark arts of the scrum. Atonio seemed to wheel the Scots around the park at scrum time while making a nuisance of himself at the rucks as well. Dan Cole is bubbling under for another exceptional performance in an England shirt.
2 Guilhem Guirado (France): Besides his leadership in keeping France in the right state of mind to overcome a spirited Scotland, Guirado really showed his versatility as he was strong defensively while making eight tackles and he was also strong in the loose as he gave off two great offloads. Wales’s Ken Owens gets a shout for making 16 tackles.
1 Joe Marler (England): The Harlequins prop was once again a star performer in the front row. The big number one used his large frame to bully the opposition at the breakdown and the scrum. He was effective in the loose play as he made an impressive 16 tackles. France’s Cyril Baille deserves a mention for making a massive 14 tackles on Sunday.