Tuilagi was back to his destructive best against Wasps, scoring two tries that few other players in world rugby could have finished with such nonchalant ease. If the second one was all about power, the first included an impeccably timed run into a gap, not a man – something he has not always been keen to do. Intriguingly, and for the first time in a while, the Tigers employed Tuilagi as a 12 – he certainly did not look out of place being used as the go-to man in the first few phases of possession. England’s midfield was one of the great success stories of their Six Nations, but Tuilagi possesses physical attributes the likes of which others can only dream. Simply put, Lancaster has to find a place for him in the side somewhere.
Exeter’s win at Worcester has gone somewhat under the radar, but it was a cracking game of rugby down in no small part to the willingness of the players to play an open game. This was true of no one more than the Chiefs’ fly-half who put in one of the performances of the weekend, seemingly beating defenders at will as he ducked and darted over the gainline time and again. He bagged a try himself and set up a few others, as well as missing just one kick from seven. Realistically, he is probably a fair way away from Ireland’s radar, but given Ian Madigan’s struggle to nail down the Leinster shirt and subsequent lack of game time this season, should Steenson be in Ireland’s thoughts? Probably.
With injury depriving Vunipola of a run of starts in the Six Nations, it is hugely encouraging to see him back to somewhere near his best so soon after returning to action. He was a menace against the Saints at the weekend, and perhaps most impressively managed to come through the full 80 minutes – accusations in the past have been made that he is not an ’80 minutes man’, claims which look increasingly silly these days, so credit to Sarries for working on his fitness. Ben Morgan deputised very well for him during the back end of the Six Nations, but Vunipola is the man opposition would prefer not to face, you suspect.
Glasgow shocked Munster at Thomond Park, bringing and end to their run of 13 straight victories, and the younger of the Gray brothers was one of the standout performers on the park. He scored the opening try for his side, cleverly identifying the weak shoulder of JJ Hanrahan in front of him and barging his way over the line for what was, in the end, an easy finish for a man of his physical capabilities. He also finished top tackler for his side with 15 made and none missed. He could potentially form an incredibly dynamic partnership with brother Richie at international level.
One lesson that came out of the Six Nations for Wales is that they need to sort out their fly-half spot. Rhys Priestland does not seem to have the confidence to nail down the shirt for himself, and while Biggar himself has shown patchy form in the national jersey in the past his performance for the Ospreys against Leinster will have been hugely encouraging for Gatland to see. He finished with 20 of his side’s 25 points in a display that brought to the fore his game management abilities. He also defended manfully, making 12 tackles without missing any and three turnovers, as Leinster looked to target his channel. With young Owen Williams pressing his claims with several eye-catching performances over at the Tigers, this was a good time for Biggar to impress, and he must now have leapfrogged Priestland in the pecking order as we head into the summer tours.
By Jamie Hosie
Follow Jamie on Twitter: @jhosie43
Photo by: Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images