Thursday 8 December 2016

weekend uncovered

Published 29/02/2016 | 02:30

star man

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Billy Vunipola

(England)

An absolute force

of nature with ball in hand all game, Vunipola's relentlessly strong carries eventually wore out the Irish defence.

The No 8 (above) steamrolled one of Ireland's best defenders in Andrew Trimble in the first half but he wasn't the only one as he swatted green jerseys aside for fun and gave England a solid platform to build from.

Vunipola has improved massively in the last couple of seasons and if he continues in this sort of form, you wouldn't rule out England winning the Grand Slam.

scouting report

Maro Itoje (England)

There's been a lot of hype around the 21-year-old second-row but he continues to exceed expectations and Saturday was no different. In what was his first international start, Itoje was outstanding all evening and repeatedly disrupted the Irish lineout. He is the real deal.

numbers game

17 The number of tackles that Josh van der Flier made in what was an impressive international debut. The flanker got through a mountain of work while he was a constant menace at the breakdown.

quote-unquote

"If the ball is there, you're allowed to kick at it and the player on the ground shouldn't be holding onto the ball so there's nothing wrong with that."

- Eddie Jones didn't see anything wrong with Mike Brown's reckless kicks near the head of Conor Murray which resulted in the scrum-half having to be replaced.

Irish Independent

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