Six Nations 2013 Round 3: Team of the week
15: Leigh Halfpenny
Nerves of steel and a precision boot in horrific conditions, slotting six out of seven kicks, were on show once again on Saturday. Consistently amongst Wales’ best performers.
14: Alex Cuthbert
It wasn’t really a weekend for wingers, with conditions dictating three relatively scrappy affairs, but Cuthbert’s line for his try was a thing of beauty. Showed good pace and power to make it to the line.
13: Manu Tuilagi
Bulldozing power and impressive pace were the hallmarks of Tuilagi’s game against France. That and the bravery to keep playing with half his ear hanging off his head. The man is a warrior.
12: Wesley Fofana
Fofana confirmed what everyone in world rugby except Philippe Saint-André realised long ago: he is a centre. Ironically he scored his try down the wing, but several silky breaks from the midfield confirmed that is where he’s meant to be. There is not an skill that he doesn’t possess.
11: Craig Gilroy
With no disrespect to Gilroy, whose performance was a solid one, he is here probably more thanks to a lack of viable contenders than anything else. He did show impressive agility and drive to get over the line from five metres out, though.
10: François Trinh-Duc
This is a controversial one. Trinh-Duc didn’t do anything particularly brilliantly, but then neither did any fly-half this weekend. Farrell unusually lost his head, one Jackson was quite good with the ball but average from the tee while the other didn’t have any ball to work with. Burton for Italy was woeful, while Biggar gave a nice pass for an assist but little else. Trinh-Duc gets it for keeping France competitive for 50 minutes until he was inexplicably subbed for the meltdown-prone Michalak, whereupon France promptly fell to pieces.
9: Greig Laidlaw
Superb from the tee, which proved the difference, Laidlaw made sure that the fact his side had only 29% possession and 23% territory mattered not. An utterly baffling win, but fair play to Laidlaw for making sure Scotland were clinical – not an adjective that is regularly levelled at them. Parra is unlucky to miss out after proving he should have been starting for France all along.
1: Ryan Grant
His yellow card was probably a tad harsh, and he contributed to a scrum that comprehensively disrupted their Irish counterparts. 12 tackles, considering he was off the pitch for ten minutes, is a titanic effort for a front-row forward. Gethin Jenkins’ performance merits a mention as he continues the road back to form and fitness.
2: Richard Hibbard
Not a vintage weekend amongst the hookers, either. Some faltering line-outs in Edinburgh and all-round average play at Twickenham means Hibbard makes it almost by default. He did put in a big tackle, after all.
3: Adam Jones
Back to somewhere near his best. Much is made of Italy’s forward power; Jones made a mockery of that, destroying Andrea Lo Cicero at the scrum. A much-needed reminder that on his day he is a world-class tight-head.
4: Joe Launchbury
The languid Launchbury had another good afternoon in a white shirt (does he ever have a bad game?!) topping the tackle charts with 15. He possesses impressive pace for a lock forward, which means he can be a danger in the wider channels as well as the tight.
5: Jim Hamilton
Giant Jim was outstanding for Scotland on Sunday. It was a day made for him: tight, tense and full of physicality. He disrupted Ireland’s line-out while smashing green shirts back all afternoon. A deserved man of the match.
6: Kelly Brown
Scotland’s captain was so important to them that room has been made for him at no.6, despite him playing at open-side on Sunday. In reality it doesn’t matter where he plays, you can be certain that he will put his body in places he really shouldn’t for the team. The picture of him holding up the Centenary Quaich, blood streaming from his face, was the perfect way to sum up the warrior spirit that Scotland showed in winning a game they never should have.
7: Chris Robshaw
Another man of the match performance from the England skipper sees his claim on the Lions no.7 shirt continuing to strengthen. His hunger for work is so impressive, and he is the very definition of what Stuart Lancaster wants England to be about.
8: Louis Picamoles
17 carries and 81 metres made are stats worthy of a man of his stature. ‘The Iceberg’ was back to something near his best, charging over the gain-line time and again. It is a shame for the French that his teammates could not join him.
By Jamie Hosie
Follow Jamie on Twitter: @jhosie43