1 – Jefferson Poirot (France)
The jackal of a loosehead that is Bordeaux’s Poirot has had a good tournament thus far and continued that form on Saturday being a dominating presence at the breakdown and being a considerable factor towards England’s downfall.
2 – Guilhem Guirado (France)
Another Captain’s innings from the Frenchman who, despite being given a torrid time in the lineout by Courtney Lawes, made the highest number of metres ball in hand out of all Les Bleus and was again an absolute workhorse in defence.
3 – Tadhg Furlong (Ireland)
A powerful performance from the Wexford Bull, who was a commanding presence in the loose and proving difficult to handle with 20 metres made with usually a hopeless defender on him trying to bring him down. Great stuff considering he has just returned from injury.
4 – James Ryan (Ireland)
The former Ireland U20 captain is beginning to really settle into the international scene. He was Ireland’s top carrier with 15 ball-carries, made an impressive 22 metres in close-quarters and was also joint-top tackler with 14. Excellent graft and commitment from the young fellow.
5 – Cory Hill (Wales)
Stepped up to fill Alun Wyn Jones’ shoes, as he made a clean break and picked up a good pass from his scrumhalf to crash over the tryline from 5 metres.
6 – Yacouba Camara (France)
A few lineout misses can be forgiven for his ball-carrying in the loose with 30 metres clocked, his ever-present work over the ball and in defence with 10 tackles made. I expect big things from this giant of a man.
7 – Dan Leavy (Ireland)
Ireland will be most pleased by their new-found strength in depth (which was their downfall at the last World Cup) and Leavy has filled in effectively for clubmate Sean O’Brien. On Saturday, Leavy put in a very complete performance: running 11 carries for 18 metres in close quarters and making 13 tackles.
8 – Taulupe Faletau (Wales)
Returned from injury to captain the Welsh for the 1st time after 70-something caps, Faletau made a couple of big linebreaks for a considerable 43 metres and made an absolute thundering hit on Tommaso Allen which you can watch [again] below:
9 – Maxime Machenaud (France)
Another masterful display from the Frenchman, who has really hit some rock-solid form at the moment as he was 4/4 on his kicking duties and marshalled things well in attack, much unlike his opposite number Danny Care.
10 – Jonny Sexton (Ireland)
Sexton has further edged himself into Irish Rugby Folklore this tournament with his legendary last-ditch drop goal in the 1st round and this weekend he made a great clean break linking with Conor Murray to marvellous effect, and greatly improved on his kicking from last time out, being 100% with his kicks at goal.
11 – Hadleigh Parkes (Wales)
A lot of players playing well has meant that I have moved Parkes to the wing where he can play and unfortunately knocking off his teammate North from this team. Man of the match as he spun his way to the tryline, always looked a threat ball in hand as he ran 55 metres and he had beaten 7 defenders (although that is no mean feat against an Italian team).
12 – Mathieu Bastareaud (France)
What a return the bulldozing centre has made to international rugby. He proved close to unstoppable in attack (to be fair I thought Ford did stand his ground to an extent) with 17 metres made and proved immovable at the breakdown, making a few crucial turnovers.
13 – Garry Ringrose (Ireland)
This bright-looking prospect has had a bit of a disrupted season with injury but on Saturday, he looked as though he had never had been gone, making 92 metres ball in hand with one defender beaten and a try assist for Stockdale’s 2nd try.
14 – Remy Grosso (France)
Ok so maybe Grosso isn’t a highly skilful player but he was very powerful for his size on Saturday, racking up a formidable 106 metres made and seven defenders beaten. Deservedly man of the match.
15 – Jacob Stockdale (Ireland)
I moved Stockdale to fullback to accommodate my 3 centres. Anyway, the Irishman has enhanced his reputation as an interceptor, snatching his 3rd try this tournament. Also, his 2nd try was a good team effort from Ireland and a niche finish from Stockdale.
By Jacob Bassford