Six Nations: Team of the Week

Date published: March 10 2014

Now that the dust has settled across Europe, it's time to pick out the players who stood out from the crowd in Round 4 of the Six Nations.

Now that the dust has settled across Europe, it's time to pick out the players who stood out from the crowd in Round 4 of the Six Nations.

Ireland gave Brian O'Driscoll a fitting Dublin send-off against a plucky Italian side first-up on Saturday, racking up what could prove to be a crucial 47 points ahead of next weekend's finale.

France kept themselves in the hunt for the title after a last-gasp Jean-Marc Doussain penalty secured a 19-17 victory for les Bleus at Murrayfield; the Scots falling painfully short once more.

England rounded off the penultimate weekend of the tournament, and laid down quite a marker in the process with an excellent 29-18 win over Wales on Sunday, ending Warren Gatland's dreams of a third consecutive Championship.

Six Nations 2014, Team of Round 4

15 Mike Brown (England): This man is on fire. His aggressive style may rub opposition fans up the wrong way, but he has unquestionably proved himself the player of the tournament so far. He didn't get on the scoresheet this week, but made another whopping 145 metres, beat seven defenders, and made all his tackles from full-back. The difference in Brown's Test form from a year ago, when he was stuck out of position on the wing, is massive. A mention, too, for his opposite number on Sunday, Leigh Halfpenny, who held his nerve with the boot and made a try-saving tackle on Luther Burrell, and Rob Kearney who was dangerous for Ireland.

14 Yoann Huget (France): Huget makes our lineup courtesy of his game-altering interception try against Scotland on Saturday. He wasn't given as much ball as usual, but his reading of Duncan Weir's pass simultaneously saved his side seven points at one end, and bought them a crucial seven at the other. Jack Nowell is really growing into Test rugby, and made some fine breaks for England, while Ireland's Andrew Trimble had another excellent run-out.

13 Brian O'Driscoll (Ireland): Saturday was the end of an era as BOD said goodbye to the Dublin crowd, but typical of the man, he didn't go out with a whimper. Two glorious assists, fifty metres gained, and two defenders beaten as Ireland trounced Italy. Big Luther Burrell is another of Stuart Lancaster's more inexperienced charges who looks to be coming of age at the top level: a try against a backline as good as Wales' is no mean feat, and he was inches away from grabbing a second.

12 Billy Twelvetrees (England): Twelvetrees has suffered greatly from inconsistency both at club and international level this season, but this must rank among his best performances in an England shirt. A deft grubber for Burrell's try, forty-one metres gained, and a perfect seven-from-seven tackle ratio. Scotland's Matt Scott had another strong performance at Murrayfield.

11 Leonardo Sarto (Italy): At long last, Italy have a set of outside backs that can score tries, and produce some entertaining running rugby. Esposito's five-pointer on Saturday proved nothing more than a consolation come full-time, but the winger showed fantastic pace, feet and awareness to score from fifty metres, beating O'Driscoll, and both Kearney brothers in the process.

10 Owen Farrell (England): Pilloried for his lack of creativity in November, Farrell has grabbed the bull by the horns this tournament. On Sunday, he controlled things well, kicking intelligently, and beat a few defenders himself. His defence remains suspect at times, but he nailed all his shots at goal for a perfect place-kicking ratio. A mention too for Jonny Sexton, who scored 17 of Ireland's 47 points.

9 Danny Care (England): Danny Care did what Danny Care does against Wales, sniping over from a quick tap-penalty before the blissfully unaware Welsh pack could say “try-time”. Another of the tournament's stand-outs.

8 Jamie Heaslip (Ireland): An all-action display from the Leinsterman, who carried tirelessly through the Azzurri defence, making fifty-six metres, ten tackles, and beating a defender. He probably deserved a try for his efforts. Dave Denton also travelled well on the Murrayfield mud as he, once again, was among the Scots' top carriers.

7 Sam Warburton (Wales): The captain grafted manfully in the face of Twickenham adversity, making a nuisance of himself at the breakdown and putting in thirteen tackles.

6 Tom Wood (England) Made his customary huge effort in defence with sixteen tackles, and was a constant presence around the ruck. Wood was also a reliable aerial option, with a perfect record in the lineout.

5 Courtney Lawes (England): Rightly awarded Man of the Match after a monstrous display on Sunday. The Northampton Saints behemoth was his destructive self without the ball, landing some crunching hits among a ten-tackle performance. He made seventeen metres from five carries, and covered every blade of the Twickenham turf. Had Lawes not been so outstanding, this spot would undoubtedly have gone to Jim Hamilton who made a mess of the French lineout and even pinched a few turnovers in contact.

4 Joe Launchbury (England): The rangy foil to Lawes' grunt and power, Launchbury turned in another fine all-round performance, even beating a few defenders with the ball in his considerable grasp. A mention too for Hamilton's cohort, Richie Gray who looks to be rediscovering his Test form.

3 David Wilson (England): One of Europe's best scrummagers under the new engagement protocols, Wilson has more than filled the gap left by Dan Cole. On Sunday, not only did his scrummaging against a pack that included seven British and Irish Lions yield penalties, but he showed up well in the loose too, making 10 tackles, twelve metres, and beating a few defenders to boot.

2 Dylan Hartley (England): None of the hookers on show this weekend had especially good games, nor posted brilliant stats, but Hartley made thirteen tackles, while his throwing was near-perfect. The Saint's maddening indiscipline is still a big problem, though, as he conceded four penalties. Elsewhere, Rory Best showed up well for Ireland.

1 Cian Healy (Ireland): Leinster's Healy continues to impress in all aspects of his rugby. His scrummaging has improved to match his awesome power in the loose, and he is often worth backing as an anytime try-scorer. Healy crossed the line in Dublin this weekend as part of a display that saw him make thirty metres and beat three defenders.