Jacob Whitehead is back with his ‘dream team’ from the second round of the 2021 championship
Six Nations Team of Round Two
A classic weekend of Six Nations rugby. Games in Edinburgh and Dublin were in the balance going into the final moments, England’s attack actually looked functional, and there were a few performances to set British & Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland’s pulse racing.
Two rounds in and it’s possible to see trends emerging. France and Wales’ meeting in the tournament’s final game has suddenly been circled in red pen, the medical staff deserve a pay rise, while four players have been in both teams of the week so far. So who were the gladiators of an attritional second week?
Six Nations Team of Round Two
15. Stuart Hogg (Scotland)
Had no right to score either of his tries. Performed one of those conjuring tricks, like against New Zealand back in 2017, where he looked as if he could score with every other touch.
A shame he can’t lead his side to France unbeaten to face opposite number Brice Dulin, who was also excellent.
14. Louis Rees-Zammit (Wales)
The day Rees-Zammit arrived on the international scene. One suspects he won’t leave in a hurry. Had a few sketchy moments in defence, but these have to be overshadowed by the brilliance of his second try. That chip was straight from the playbook of the late, great JJ Williams.
13. Henry Slade (England)
The key to England’s attacking success was their ability to find Slade out wide early. The Exeter centre made space for his wingers at will and seemed to live on Juan Ignacio Brex’s outside shoulder.
A word also for Scotland’s Chris Harris, intimidating for all 80 minutes.
12. Gaël Fickou (France)
The absence of Virimi Vakatawa and Romain Ntamack would have been a worry for France, but the first two games have suggested that Fickou is the key man in the outside backs.
Always within centimetres of Robbie Henshaw’s face defensively and heavily involved in the French tries.
Willis Halaholo’s Wales debut was also a performance to remember.
11. Anthony Watson (England)
Possibly under a bit of pressure for his place in the back three thanks to the emergence of Max Malins, this was Watson’s best game for England in the past year.
Jonny May was the acrobat but the star attraction was Watson, scything through on in-lines like a sharpened rapier.
10. George Ford (England)
No fly-half truly stood out this weekend, but Ford’s introduction to the side was like putting oil in a rusting engine. It’s hard to point to a single moment, but his control and range of passing made England run infinitely smoother.
9. Ali Price (Scotland)
It would be easy to pick Antoine Dupont (as will likely happen every other week!), but the single sublime piece of skill of the weekend came from the Glasgow scrum-half.
He may have been watching replays of Dupont’s assist for Gaël Fickou last weekend, subtly dinking through for Darcy Graham, and he was also a menace around the fringes throughout.
1. Wyn Jones (Wales)
A second appearance in this team in as many weeks for Jones, whose exhausting grind to the line for Wales’ go-ahead try gave the prop a rare bit of limelight.
It was remarkable he lasted 78 minutes considering the volume of work he got through.
2. Luke Cowan-Dickie (England)
What a physical presence, full of more bounces than the Harlem Globetrotters. Will Eddie Jones reward England’s form hooker with a start away in Cardiff next round, in what would be the biggest opportunity in Cowan-Dickie’s international career?
George Turner went well again for Scotland.
3. Kyle Sinckler (England)
Perhaps fortunate to be given Man of the Match, but Sinckler’s trademark ball-handling in the pod was on full display. Fly-halves and props aren’t supposed to be iconic attacking combinations, but Sinckler and George Ford’s chemistry is beginning to lead them in that direction.
4. Jonny Gray (Scotland)
Another mighty performance. A missed tackle comes around less often than Halley’s Comet and he made a couple of line breaks too. The battle for the Lions’ second-row berths has ignited this Six Nations.
5. Jonny Hill (England)
It’s hard to outshine Maro Itoje, but this was Hill’s best international performance, coming a week after an inaccurate game against Scotland. Most impressive wasn’t his try, but the excellent pass off his weak hand to put Watson into space for the wing’s first score.
Unlucky to miss out was Iain Henderson – his choke tackles kept it close against France.
6. Rhys Ruddock (Ireland)
Pretty incredible to think that this was Ruddock’s first-ever start in the Six Nations, 11 years after his Test debut. Particularly outstanding in the first 30, he seemed to make it his personal mission to be a one-man belligerent against the French second row.
7. Hamish Watson (Scotland)
There’s more kinetic energy emanating from Hamish Watson’s carries than from a roaring pneumatic drill. His battle against Justin Tipuric, a week after Watson saw off another Lions contender in Tom Curry, was fascinating.
A word also for Johan Meyer, who irritated England all game.
8. Grégory Alldritt (France)
One of the slighter No 8’s in international rugby, but so durable, picking up the ball in ugly positions to get France moving across the gainline. Becoming an irreplaceable outlet for Antoine Dupont.
England will also be pleased to see Billy Vunipola throwing opposition half-backs round like soft toys.
Who would make your Six Nations Team of Round Two? Email firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know.
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