Find out who Jacob Whitehead has picked in his ‘dream team’ from Super Saturday
Six Nations Team of Round Five
What an incredible weekend – and it’s not even caveated by the sad realisation that this year’s Six Nations is nearly at an end (we’ll have to wait until Friday night to find out whether France or Wales will lift the trophy depending how les Bleus do against Scotland).
Heroes and heartbreak, Lions and lambs, these three Super Saturday games had it all – from Scotland making more than a kilometre with the ball in hand, to Ireland getting the signature win of Andy Farrell’s reign, to one of the greatest matches for pure theatre that the competition has ever produced.
SUPER SATURDAY MATCH VERDICTS
Stuart Hogg’s side with a record 52-10 victory…
Keith Earls try sparks Ireland rout of England…
It’s hard to make sense of it all, and this composite team from the fifth round of fixtures is more likely to stir things up than settle them down…
Six Nations Team of Round Five
15. Hugo Keenan (Ireland)
Brice Dulin was awarded Man of the Match in Paris; he was responsible for two glorious moments, but struggled under the high ball.
The most assured full-back over the weekend was Keenan, the only man to play every minute of the tournament for Ireland. Imperious in the air, winning the ball for Jack Conan’s try, he’s one of those players who never seems to make rash decisions.
14. Keith Earls (Ireland)
Never underestimate Earls. Utterly bamboozled Jonny May, a very fine defender, when England and Ireland were locked at 3-3 early on in Dublin.
Deserved a second after acrobatically dotting down a cross-field kick which he had no right to reach, but play was brought back for a knock-on earlier in the move.
13. Robbie Henshaw (Ireland)
A warrior this championship – one of Ireland’s best players in every game. Saved his best performance for last with a huge first-half effort, filled with dominant tackles that utterly shut down England’s wide game. A Lion in waiting.
The most competitive position, with Virimi Vakatawa ascending again to his awesome heights for the first time in the tournament and Huw Jones making more metres than a ruler factory.
12. Gaël Fickou (France)
France’s most talismanic back this tournament has been not Antoine Dupont but Fickou, the centre dragging his team back into contention in the final 20 minutes against Wales in Paris.
Jonathan Davies was his typically canny self in the first half, but Fickou looked as if he could make a line break at any moment in the second.
Provided the crucial touch of class for the final try, having the wherewithal to square his hips, delay his pass and fix George North, giving Dulin the space to scoot through.
11. Duhan van der Merwe (Scotland)
It’s impossible to leave out a winger who made 220 metres and scored two tries. He beat 15 defenders against Italy, and is now joint with Thomas Castaignede for the most players dodged in a single Six Nations match. A debut tournament to remember.
Related: Duhan van der Merwe’s rugby journey
10. Dan Biggar (Wales)
The bigger the game, the better Biggar. Varied his tempo beautifully, with his kicking game as good as I’ve seen it, linking brilliantly with North and Davies, and offering a running threat of his own.
Really risked his body to score Wales’ first try on the Jamie Roberts line. His best game of the tournament, and possibly reminded everyone why Wayne Pivac picks him to start over Callum Sheedy.
9. Conor Murray (Ireland)
Ireland’s mission control. Recalled ahead of Jamison Gibson Park, he and Johnny Sexton were more Gardaí than old guard, stringently policing the areas England were allowed to play in.
Had slightly fallen out of the Lions picture despite an outstanding tour four years ago – he’s firmly back in it now.
1. Wyn Jones (Wales)
While Fabien Galthié thinks that Jones’s best quality is his ability to win red cards, above all the prop offered massive work-rate in Paris.
Made 12 tackles and 12 carries, the latter the highest figure of any front-rower all weekend. And he scrummaged well against the bullish Mohamed Haouas.
2. David Cherry (Scotland)
Ken Owens was bristling with intensity for Wales, but it would be remiss not to credit Cherry for his two-try performance. He’s had an incredible journey to international rugby, and improbably made a front-of-the-lineout move work!
The Scottish lineout capitulated last week – this week they won 15 of 16 throw-ins.
3. Tadhg Furlong (Ireland)
It was Ireland’s scrum that really helped them pull away against England, and in a showdown of the 2017 Lions front row it was Furlong who triumphed, forcing Mako Vunipola to give away three scrum penalties.
Outshone the in-form Kyle Sinckler, and thankfully seems back to his best after his injury.
4. Tadhg Beirne (Ireland)
Should be Six Nations Player of the Championship in 2021. Arguably Man of the Match in four of his five games, he’s played his way from the fringes of the Lions squad to a presumptive Test starter.
No player in the tournament has hit more rucks than the Munster player.
5. Alun Wyn Jones (Wales)
So nearly led Wales to a famous win. Made the most tackles of anyone apart from Italy’s overmatched Michele Lamaro and Niccolo Cannone, but also added 11 carries of his own and offloaded more than any other player in a red shirt.
6. Josh Navidi (Wales)
Never stops. It seems a long time ago that he came off the bench to replace the stricken Dan Lydiate in the tournament’s first game. Such a powerful leg drive for his team’s second try, and defensively irrepressible as the French attacked the Welsh line.
Mark Wilson was probably the only English player who has won credit from his side’s performance in Dublin.
7. Charles Ollivon (France)
Absolutely monstrous performance. Scored to give France a sniff in the 77th minute, made 13 carries and 21 tackles (those poor shoulders), and it seems impossible to ground the ball for a try if he is defending anywhere in a ten-metre radius. Inconceivable that he managed to stop Gareth Davies.
Hamish Watson, Man of the Match in Scotland’s win, was also impressive.
8. Jack Conan (Ireland)
Everywhere for 80 minutes. Outstanding athleticism and deftness to flick the ball inside to Earls for the winger’s try, and opportunistic to exploit a weak piece of guard work from Luke Cowan-Dickie for his own try.
CJ Stander’s retirement and this performance will very much put him in the frame for Ireland’s first-choice back row.
Grégory Alldritt had yet another outstanding game for France.
Referee: Luke Pearce (RFU)
Not just an excuse to get an England representative into the team of the week, but a quick word for the unflappable Pearce on Saturday night.
With 7m watching in the UK alone, he provided brilliant communication and clarity throughout.
Who would make your Six Nations Team of Round Five? Email firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know.
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