By Jake Goodwill
- England retain the Six Nations title, and equal New Zealand’s record of 18 consecutive wins
- We break down the Team of the Week with just one round to go.
SIX NATIONS – England demolished Scotland to retain the Six Nations title, equalling New Zealand’s record of consecutive wins. Who were the players that have stood out this week?
Six Nations Team of the Week
1 – Joe Marler (ENG)
On his 50th cap, the Harlequins prop put in a strong performance. His defensive work rate was excellent and he applied pressure to the inexperienced Zander Fagerson at scrum time.
2 – Dylan Hartley (ENG)
The much maligned England Captain was excellent against Scotland. He led from the front at the set-piece and was England’s top tackler when he was substituted with 14 tackles.
3 – Tadgh Furlong (IRE)
It was hardly a vintage weekend for tightheads but the Leinsterman played well and showed glimpses of his destructive power in the loose.
4- Joe Launchbury (ENG)
Another impressive performance from the Wasps lock who made a couple of important interventions in defence and carried abrasively throughout.
5 – Courtney Lawes (ENG)
Lawes was outstanding. His work rate never tired and his ball carrying was again impressive. It is fair to say that the England locks got the upper hand over the widely acclaimed Gray brothers which could have an impact when it comes to Lions selection time.
6 – Sam Warburton (WAL)
His performances since standing down from the captaincy have been impressive. Warburton was highly industrious and a nuisance at the breakdown against Ireland. His performance was key to Wales’ victories and has put him firmly as the favourite for Lions openside. Maro Itoje is unfortunate not to make the side after another ferocious outing.
7 – Justin Tipuric (WAL)
The combination of Tipuric and Warburton has finally started to work for Wales and is causing issues for opposition attacks. They worked in tandem at the breakdown against Ireland and the work rate of Warburton allows Tipuric to thrive in the open spaces from time to time.
8 – Sergio Parisse (ITA)
The talisman of Italian rugby put in another brilliant shift against France. The skill set he demonstrated, especially in the first half, was incredible and was rounded off nicely with a try. A mention too for Nathan Hughes who had his best game for England thus far.
9 – Rhys Webb (WAL)
Webb had a number of brilliant touches that were crucial to Wales’ tries. His looping ball over the top in the run up to George North’s first try was class. Webb is proving to be the much needed spark in Wales’ attack.
10 – George Ford (ENG)
A poor season, for Bath and England, was turned around with an excellent performance. The timing and execution of his passing was vital to providing Jonathan Joseph with the space to flourish. England’s midfield finally functioned for the first time in the tournament and that was largely down to Ford. He outplayed a poor Finn Russell and put himself back in the conversation for the third Lions fly-half spot.
11 – Anthony Watson (ENG)
Watson made the most of an early introduction after Elliot Daly was forced off injured. The Bath winger was a constant threat with ball in hand and took his try nicely. A timely reminder of what he can offer Warren Gatland.
12 – Gael Fickou (FRA)
The Toulouse centre has shown such talent for a number of years but has rarely put a complete performance together. Against Italy he did this gliding through the Italy defence for a try and providing Virimi Vakatawa with a great opportunity after another sharp break.
13 – Jonathan Joseph (ENG)
Joseph was the star of the show at Twickenham scoring a hat-trick and providing an assist in a 60 minute performance. He cut the Scottish defence to pieces and scored with some sublime finishes. This was made all the more impressive by the fact he has struggled for form recently and was dropped for the match against Italy. The Lions 13 shirt is up for grabs and Joseph has as good a chance as any to claim it.
14 – George North (WAL)
He is back. North looked like his former self and put in a physical performance against Ireland. He has been criticised for a lack of work rate and his defence but he rectified both those aspects in this game. North also finished well putting in a complete performance.
15 – Brice Dulin (FRA)
The subtly and counter attacking of Dulin was a welcome change for France in comparison to the lumbering, albeit effective, Scott Spedding. His running from the back opened up opportunities for the French wingers who thrived in the wide channels.
The final round of the RBS 6 Nations takes place on Saturday 18 March.
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