Six Nations Team of the Weekend Round One
There were plenty of strong performances in the first round of the 2019 Six Nations, so Sam Tremlett faced a tricky task selecting a Team of the Weekend. Who makes the cut?
Six Nations Team of the Weekend Round One
The first round of the 2019 Six Nations saw a host of players deliver strong displays and Sam Tremlett has been tasked with putting them into a Round One Team of the Weekend.
In terms of results, Wales pulled off a stunning comeback to beat France in Paris, Scotland secured a bonus point victory against Italy, and England put together a complete performance to comprehensively beat the Irish in Dublin.
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1. Mako Vunipola (England)
Man of the match against Ireland, Mako was simply sublime. A willing runner, he brought a level of physicality that the Irish were not prepared for, and his work in defence was hard to ignore too as he made a whopping 25 tackles.
2. Carolina Thomas (France Women)
A hat-trick of tries is difficult to achieve for any player on the field let alone a front-row forward, but French hooker Thomas achieved the feat thanks to three almost identical line-out drives deep in Welsh territory.
Jamie George is also worth mentioning here due to his quality production at the line out against Ireland, along with his physical workload.
3. Kyle Sinckler (England)
A difficult position to fill, I have gone with Sinckler here thanks to his energy and front-row output. His collision with Peter O’Mahoney in particular was a clear physical metaphor for England’s mindset during the game – we are not backing down.
4. Maro Itoje (England)
He may have limped off just before the mark, but Itoje was another who epitomised English aggression.
5. Grant Gilchrist (Scotland)
The big man landed 19 tackles, was efficient at the line out and was a presence all over the park. No doubt he has created a selection conundrum for Gregor Townsend with the Gray brothers due to return in the future.
6. Josh Navidi (Wales)
A tireless worker, Navidi was arguably Wales’ best player against France. He made 16 tackles and as the game descended into a battle for possession, he also produced two crucial turnovers.
7. Arthur Iturria (France)
Justin Tipuric and Tom Curry deserve notable mentions, but I have gone for Iturria in the second flanker spot. His off-load to set up Yoann Huget’s try was something Sonny Bill Williams would have been proud of, and he had a significant tackle count to his name as well. A brilliant performance that deserved a French victory.
8. Louis Picamoles (France)
The former Northampton man did everything for Les Bleus this weekend. He battered his way to open the scoring for them and then pulled off a stunning try saving tackle on Liam Williams. Again, like Iturria above, it was a performance that deserved a victory.
9. Greig Laidlaw (Scotland)
Did everything required of him against Italy – made kicks from the tee, kept Scotland in Italian territory and most importantly, fed the electric back-line as often as possible.
10. Owen Farrell (England)
Despite not reaching his usual accuracy off the kicking tee, Farrell pulled the strings for the England back-line to great effect. He had been described as a hot-head in the build-up to the game but the captaincy role kept his whole performance cool and controlled throughout.
11. Jonny May (England)
The two wing positions could have been filled by several players this weekend. George North scored twice to inspire Wales to victory, Jack Nowell was excellent and Damian Penaud played well for France. However I have gone for Jonny May in the first spot.
He was regularly targeted by Conor Murray’s box-kicks and he dealt with them, on the whole, competently. His try early in the first half set the tone for England’s play and he also pulled off a brilliant kick on his weaker foot to set up Henry Slade’s first try.
12. Manu Tuilagi (England)
Considering he had not started a Six Nations match since 2013, this was a remarkably capable performance from the Leicester man. He regularly got over the gain-line to provide England with front-foot momentum and played a key role in the set-up to May’s try in the first half.
13. Henry Slade (England)
The final English player in my team of the weekend is Slade. His best performance in an England shirt, Slade was a menace in attack and defence. His second try in particular was beautifully taken as you can see below.
14. Blair Kinghorn (Scotland)
A hat-trick of tries is a sure-fire way to get into the team of the weekend regardless of opposition. The Italians simply had no answer for the big winger.
15. Stuart Hogg (Scotland)
It is hard to think of a more exciting player to watch than Hogg. Every single time he got the ball he looked as if he was going to break the game, and the Italian defence, wide open. He made 131 metres with ball in hand, played a key role in Scotland’s second try and used immense skill to score a try of his own just after half-time.
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