Saturday 10 December 2016

Six Nations Team of the Weekend: Every side represented in our XV including four Irishmen

Published 08/02/2016 | 11:44

CJ Stander, Billy Vunipola and Jamie Roberts were three of the top men on show over the weekend
CJ Stander, Billy Vunipola and Jamie Roberts were three of the top men on show over the weekend

It was quite an entertaining opening weekend to the 2016 RBS Six Nations but who was worthy of inclusion in our team of the week.

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It's looking ominous for both Scotland and Italy despite some encouraging signs in defeat, England and France are still on for the Grand Slam while Ireland and Wales' draw keeps them in the Championship running, they can't afford any slip-ups.

Here's our round one team of the weekend.

15. Mike Brown (England)

The Harlequins full-back is rediscovering his best form. Imperious under the high ball, he also ran the ball back with purpose.

His positioning helped keep the Scots out.

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14. Jack Nowell (England)

Illustrated his blistering pace to go over in the corner for England's second try. Sure to play an even bigger role under Eddie Jones, once the Australian coach gets to work on further back-line moves.

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13. Michele Campagnaro (Italy)

The outside-centre made numerous line breaks, the pick of those came in the first half when he missed out on scoring a try by a matter of inches.

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12. Jamie Roberts (Wales)

Weighed in with 21 tackles, including two bone-crunching hits on his opposite number Robbie Henshaw. Offered himself selflessly as a ball-carrier all afternoon. Unlucky to miss out on man-of-the-match award.

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11. Virimi Vakatawa (France)

Guy Noves must de delighted with the former Sevens star. Mesmerising footwork, ingenious offloading.... Vakatawa looks like the full package. Brilliant break in the lead-up to Bonneval's try. Ireland must beware. Trimble may not have the gas to keep with him.

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10. Jonathan Sexton (Ireland)

After taking a blow to the head, Sexton conjured all of his grit to kick the levelling penalty late on and directed Ireland very well from stand-off. Jules Plisson deserves a mention for his 54-metre monster kick for France while Carlo Canna's terrific display was spoiled only by his plaec-kicking.

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9. Conor Murray (Ireland)

The Munster man sniffed his opportunity to con Justin Tipuric for Ireland's only try. Quick to the breakdown, his kicking and distribution games were on the money.

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8. Billy Vunipola (England)

Didn't play the full 80 much under Stuart Lancaster but made it to the final whistle in Eddie Jones first game. His raw power was too much for the Scots to handle.

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7. John Hardie (Scotland)

Hardie was one of the best players on the field in Murrayfield and was head-and-shoulders above any of his compatriots. Teak-tough tackler but has soft hands and is very poised in possession. A player to watch for the rest of the competition.

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6. CJ Stander (Ireland)

Made 23 tackles and 11 carries in an all-action display. His passionate rendition of the national anthem was a sign of things to come. Struggling to think of a more impressive international debut. Injuries had placed a heavy burden on him and he rose to the occasion.

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5. George Kruis (England)

Steamrolled Richie Gray for England's opener and was solid in everything he did for England.

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4. Devin Toner (Ireland)

There is huge pressure on Toner to fill the void left by Paul O'Connell and this was a very fine first effort. Carried the ball strongly, executed a great charge down on Gareth Davies and was pivotal in the lineout battle.

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3. Samson Lee (Wales)

Ireland were hoping to exert dominance at scrum-time but the polar opposite occurred. Arguably the best tighthead in the competition.

 

2. Dylan Hartley (England)

The new England skipper came close to getting into trouble with Irish referee John Lacey over protestations. It might be different in a game they are chasing but on this evidence he has learned some restraint. Won't want to take too much edge off his game.

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1. Rob Evans (Wales)

Considering his struggles at Connacht a week before yesterday's game, Evans performed brilliantly and had Nathan White under pressure from the word go.

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