The Welsh number 12 bid a fond farewell to Cardiff Arms Park this weekend as he helped his side triumph over bottom of the table Zebre in less than favourable conditions. The gulf in class was clear from the outset and the soggy, heavy pitch helped to compound a miserable afternoon for the Italian side. Nevertheless, France-bound Roberts reminded us just why he is a strong Lions candidate with another powerful performance at centre. A well timed pass for an assist and a trademark barrelling run for a try emphasised the importance of a physical presence at 12. For me, Roberts is a slightly more consistent performer than the likes of Tuilagi and has slightly more to his game technically. It wouldn’t surprise me to see a Welsh pairing in the three-quarters come the summer.
Verdict – in the departures lounge.
A lengthy layoff may well have lessened the Irishman’s chances of making the Lions tour. However, the winger was back to his lightening-quick best at the weekend as he scored one try and initiated another to help his side lay waste to the Dragons. Bowe’s first came courtesy of good work from Marshall; neat footwork then took him away from the Dragons defence before offloading to allow the returning winger to finish in style. The Ulsterman’s other telling influence came from an incisive line coming off his wing to create the overlap for Olding to score. Having missed the Six Nations, Bowe may be hard pushed to make the Lions squad. However, a second tour is not out of the question due to the winger’s undeniable quality and experience.
Verdict – Looking frantically for his passport.
The England scrum-half looked at his sniping best as he notched two tries for a rampant Leicester Tigers. With Danny Care also in fine form there is going to be an interesting battle for number 9 when it comes to Lions selection. On this occasion however, Youngs certainly stood out. His first try was the culmination of a fine move, with a piece of excellent opportunism and finishing skill, squeezing between two forwards and finishing one handed. The second wasn’t too dissimilar, latching onto the number 8’s pass off the back of the scrum and darting through a gap. This was the perfect performance as the season draws to a close and will have reminded Warren Gatland that he is firmly in contention.
Verdict – In the departures lounge
The Edinburgh half-back is certainly in the running for Lions selection this summer, following some assured displays. The versatile Laidlaw, who can play at scrum-half or fly-half, kicked all of his side’s points at the weekend as they fell short of a Connacht side who were masterminded by the old head of Dan Parks. A successful Six Nations for Scotland carried a recurrent theme of Laidlaw’s assured performances and he has maintained his form since then. Although competition is fierce, Gatland may just be swayed by the Scotsman’s versatility.
Verdict – waiting nervously by the phone.
by Jono Frank