Six Nations 2013 Team of the Week: Round 5

15: Leigh Halfpenny
Most people’s player of the championship rounded off his tournament with another consummate display at the back for Wales. Solid under the high ball, sniping on the counter and dead-eye with the boot, Halfpenny’s was another in a long line of sublime outings.

14. Alex Cuthbert
At six foot six it is always going to be tough to keep him quiet – something that was confirmed on Saturday with a superbly taken brace. If the second was a walk-in thanks to Justin Tipuric’s unselfishness the first needed plenty of finishing, and Cuthbert showed pace and power alike to beat Mike Brown to the line.

13. Mathieu Bastareaud
The giant bowling-ball of a centre was at his best for France on Saturday night as he tore into Scotland’s midfield at a soggy Stade de France. Has been outshone by his centre partner, Wesley Fofana, but Bastareaud was equally important in getting what turned out to be a fairly pointless win for France – they got the wooden spoon anyway.

12. Jamie Roberts
Exams over and done with, Roberts seemed finally able to focus solely on his rugby. What a difference it made. Hitherto subdued, Roberts finally looked like the 2009 Lions vintage, crashing onto the ball and over the gain-line. He also showed a couple of neat touches with ball in hand, and along with Jon Davies contrived to completely nullify Manu Tuilagi – no mean feat.

11. George North
Completing the all-Wales back three is the Scarlets winger who is somehow still only twenty years old. Bulldozed his way over the hapless Chris Ashton before being thwarted by Mike Brown’s fingertips on his way to the line. 83 metres made, the most on the Welsh team, is a testament to his willingness to get his hands on the ball.

10. Dan Biggar
One of the unsung heroes of Wales’ championship-winning side, Biggar again quietly pulled the strings from fly-half, probing the corners and keeping the scoreboard moving with a smartly taken drop-goal that effectively killed off the match.

9. Mike Phillips
His style is not for everyone but on Saturday in the Millenium Stadium his abrasiveness was more than welcome for Wales. His service – so often derided – was snappier than his English counterpart’s, and he managed to fit in 13 tackles for good measure too. After an up-and-down tournament it was a welcome return to form.

1. Gethin Jenkins
Jenkins, as with all of his colleagues, seemed to find another gear on Saturday. Made mincemeat of Dan Cole in the scrums – not something many can do – and was a nuisance at the contact area. Mention must be made of Andrea Lo Cicero, whose emotional final performance for Italy on his 103rd outing was something special.

2. Richard Hibbard
Hibbard has confirmed himself as Wales’ number one hooker this championship and was excellent again against England. Outmuscling and unnerving his opposite number at scrum time, his line-out also went well with only one missed. With the impressive Ken Owens making intant impacts off the bench, Wales have depth here.

3. Adam Jones
Just when he needed it most Adam Jones has hit possibly the richest vein of form of his career. On Saturday he completely dismantled Joe Marler and the English scrum, setting the platform for complete Welsh domination. As busy as he was in the loose, it was his scrummaging that won the day.

4. Alun-Wyn Jones
The gnarled warrior Jones made an incredible 17 carries against England, trucking up the middle to make hard yard after hard yard. The work he does is never glamorous but it is oh so important to Wales and, quite possibly, the Lions.

5. Ian Evans
One of Wales’ consistently excellent performers this Six Nations, Evans didn’t let himself down on the final weekend. Consistently putting his body on the line, it was bloody-minded stuff from the towering lock who contrived to knock back waves of English attackers.

6. Alessandro Zanni
Incredibly tough on Sam Warburton who was back to his best for Wales, but Zanni was the epitome of everything good about Italy’s championship on Saturday. Hard-working, dogged, with flashes of brilliance, the flanker was sublime. Has too long lived in the shadow of his more illustrious teammate Parisse.

7. Justin Tipuric
Any questions about whether he was better suited to being a ‘super-sub’, or if he had the requisite physicality to last 80 minutes of test rugby, were comprehensively quashed in what was arguably the performance of the championship. Pilfered ball at the breakdown and set up Cuthbert’s second try with a carry and offload that any international centre would have been proud of and that many can only dream of.

8. Sergio Parisse
What more is there to say that hasn’t already been repeated hundreds of times about Parisse? The man oozes class. He was at the heart of Italy’s first ever Six Nations win over Ireland, stealing ball at the line-out and breakdown alike as well as topping the metres-made charts with 82.

By Jamie Hosie
Follow Jamie on Twitter: @jhosie43

5 thoughts on “Six Nations 2013 Team of the Week: Round 5

  1. As much as I do rate Tips, and I’m glad he’s finally starting at 7, I still have questions over whether he’s big enough and physical enough to do as well as he does without support from a big 6 supporting.

    That said, for Lions he will work great with either Warburton or Robshaw at 6, so he’s still the best choice for me.

    1. I like the thought of Robshaw at 6 with Tipuric at 7. Warburton on the bench gives you the option to cover both without upsetting the balance either way. Who would be your choice for 8 though. Once Morgan is fit, it makes the choice a little more difficult. Faletau has been solid, but not outstanding. Heaslip has been shocking mostly, but Beattie has really stuck his hand up……………….tricky!

  2. It’s a pity we can’t turn the B&I into a 6 nations all stars before we go down south. Well, sort of a pity as you’d gain the quality but lose the tradition.

    The Lions have got some tough calls – yes, I know that Wales have only played that way once but to look at it another way who from the other teams has played better than any of those Wales performances on Saturday – so who do you drop from the Wales XV to pick a Lions XV? I’m not saying the Lions XV will be all Welsh as that would be absurd, I’m just saying that right now (and I mean right now), who to drop is really hard. For me

    – Tuilagi and BOD as centres (yes, I know, but surely Tui can be taught to pass and I liked the idea someone else had that he could be exclusively a dummy runner?).
    – Heaslip at 8 ( I like to think he’ll improve when in the Lions ).
    – Sexton at 10 if he can regain his fitness.

    I’d have to say I’d leave all the rest where they are. Would love to hear some alternative opinions with reasons (much more than I’d love to hear “oh, you biased Welshman…”).

    To pre-empt 1 I would stick by not having Cian Healy in it. I’ve gone on enough about him in the past – why have good in the loose when you can have both with Jenkins?

    1. If we were playing Aus next week it’s start with a Wales 23 and then debate who can force their way in. Now the players go back to France, which very few seem to be benefiting from, and back to regions who have no European games (HC or Amlin). I think a lot of it depends on the form and fitness the deservedly large contingent of Welsh when they arrive on the tour as to whether it will be a predominantly Welsh test 23, e.g. if Jenkins looks like he did in the Autumn then it’s Healey all the way, if he keeps shape and form he’s in now then it’s Jenkins.

      Everyone who gets on the plane should be in with a shout of a test shirt, the job for the English and Irish in particular is to make sure their form in the remainder of the season earns a seat on the plane and then fight for a test shirt from there. With 6 English teams (5 with home games) in European QF action the majority of the English contenders at least have a platform to put there hands up for selection. Foden, Lawes & Hartley need Saints to have a great run in and perform in the play offs to have a chance as I think Wood is likely to be the sole touring representative at the moment.

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