1 – Cian Healy (Ireland)
Healy dominated his opponent Sinckler at the scrum (who is known for his weaknesses at the set-piece) and won a couple of vital penalties to disrupt English momentum and possession and also contributed to Ireland’s stern defensive effort by making 9 tackles.
2 – Camille Chat (France)
He may have been on the bench but his impact cannot be underestimated, I’ve always been a fan of Chat and was disappointed that he had only made one appearance this Six Nations as his loose play can be so devastating. He made inroads against the Welsh but couldn’t save his side from a close and undeserved loss.
3 – Tadhg Furlong (Ireland)
The Wexford bull has become the standard for a future World Class prop. People like Sekope Kepu have churned up trees in the loose but Furlong is so special because he’s a beast at scrumtime, but will carry significantly as well and for a long time. His dummy wrap-around and pop up to Bundee Aki was a stroke of genius and class and he squeezed through 7 metres in heavy traffic, whilst dominating Lions teammate Mako Vunipola at the scrum in a man of the match performance in one of the best games in Irish history.
4 – Dean Budd (Italy)
It wasn’t only the Azzurri backrow that was tearing up trees on Saturday as the lock-forward from Benetton made 13 carries and 17 tackles in a robust performance from the international.
5 – Alun Wyn Jones (Wales)
Yeah I know the Welsh didn’t deserve to win the match by a long shot but Jones showed grit and determination to deny France a winning score by making 18 crucial tackles, and also popping up when needed to carry the ball. It’s good to see that he will be getting a deserved summer off from international duty this season.
6 – Sebastian Negri (Italy)
Negri was ferocious on Saturday in a powerful back row display that dumbfounded the Scots, running 37 metres from 17 carries and was unlucky to be denied a great solo try.
7 – Jake Polledri (Italy)
This Italian powerhouse has bulldozed his way into the Aviva Premiership and Conor O’Shea finally gave the youngster his debut versus Scotland. That decision paid dividends, Polledri’s strength is unbelievable quite frankly as he made 27 metres with 3 defenders simply shrugged off like dominoes as he set up Tommaso Allen for a score. This guy has a big future and Italy will relish him for sure.
8 – CJ Stander (Ireland)
Whilst Stander hasn’t put a foot wrong this tournament and done a lot of hard graft, I felt that his impact on the tournament as a whole was much quieter than last season. However, on Saturday that hard work finally bore fruit as he ran onto the ball at pace from Bundee Aki to bundle his way to the posts. In total he made 35 metres having carried a bruising 25 times and making 15 tackles to top it all off.
9 – Greig Laidlaw (Scotland)
Showed composure, cool-headedness and determination to drag his team to victory over the Azzurri. Kicking 3 conversions and the match-winning penalty all in difficult circumstances and he also moved effortlessly to flyhalf when Finn Russell came off.
10 – Tommaso Allan (Italy)
A fine solo performance from the up-and-coming star who garnered a man-of-the-match award for scoring two tries and contributing 22 points in total. His 1st try came from a slick sidestep to race over the line, his 2nd try came off a powerful Polledri break and his neat punt kick set up Matteo Minozzi wonderfully. It’s a shame his side were defeated at the death.
11 – Jacob Stockdale (Ireland)
A marvellous dream start to the Six Nations who beat Chris Ashton’s record of 6 tries in the current format of the European competition with 7 tries to his name. He beat this record by scoring a great individual try on Saturday, an excellently executed chip and gather to score in England’s extended deadball line. He has been the best winger this tournament by far.
12 – Hadleigh Parkes (Wales)
The Kiwi turned Welshman has had a wonderful debut tournament and on Saturday his defence was key to keeping the French out with a couple of forced unplayable balls by holding up Bastereaud, yes Big Bastareaud, and causing a maul. This was his most significant of 11 tackles made.
13 – Mathieu Bastareaud (France)
What a return from international wilderness, the big unforgettable Bastareaud has made. If he had not missed the 1st two rounds due to suspension, he’d have walked in to my team of the tournament (expect that article soon). His ball-carrying has been destructive as we would have expected but his work over the breakdown has most impressed me this tournament and on Saturday he continued that form to monstrous effect.
14 – Gaël Fickou (France)
Fickou showed glimpses of the potential everyone thought he possessed when he came onto the scene a couple of years ago. His try was a thing of beauty, as he first offloaded to kickstart a gorgeous French interplay and break before he ran onto a fine pop pass to race through untouched to score under the posts. As a whole he made an impressive 65 metres and left 5 defenders in his wake.
15 – Matteo Minozzi (Italy)
An relative unknown heading into this tournament but has blasted his way onto the international scene. His size doesn’t let him falter and on Super Saturday he always looked a threat ball in hand by making 30 metres and outpaced Scotland’s defenders to gather Allan’s deft chip to score Italy’s 3rd try.
By Jacob Bassford