The Six Nations saw a number of debutantes take the field this weekend.
After another weekend of Six Nations action, it would now appear that fourth round fixture between England and Wales will be the title decider.
Nonetheless, this weekend provided us with three huge games that saw Wales, Scotland and England record victories.
Although Wales claimed a deserved win over France, they have received a good deal of criticism for the manner in which they played. However that will not bother Warren Gatland, as he prepares his side for a showdown in Twickenham.
After suffering a run of nine successive defeats in the Six Nations, Scotland will be delighted to have won in Rome. A victory that has the potential to instil a good deal of confidence ahead of their clash with France.
England’s victory over Ireland allowed them exercise many of the ghosts that have existed since the World Cup and keep their hopes winning the Grand Slam alive.
The weekend also saw a number of massive performances from the likes of Billy Vunipola and WP Nel, who created a platform for their respective sides. But who will join them in our team of round three.
1. Jefferson Poirot
Despite being a converted tighthead, Jefferson Poirot was a key part of a dominant French scrum in Cardiff on Friday night.
Poirot’s mobility also enabled him to carry well on a number of occasions and win a turnover.
2. Guilhem Guirado
Guilhem Guirado underlined his leadership credentials against Wales, carrying with aggression just as it seemed as if his side were wilting as the game came to a conclusion.
A brilliant scrummager and a superb lineout thrower, Guirado is arguably the best hooker in the northern hemisphere at the moment.
3. WP Nel
A shoe in for Lions selection next year, WP Nel destructive scrummaging gave Scotland a platform, providing them with a steady stream of penalties to keep the Italians at arms length.
4. Alun Wyn Jones
Although the Welsh pack is led by Sam Warburton, it is built around Alun Wyn Jones. The big lock put in another massive performance against France, carrying well and winning two turnovers.
5. George Kruis
Considering that many believed Joe Launchbury and Courtney Lawes to be England’s leading locks ahead of the Six Nations, George Kruis has become a key part of England’s pack under Eddie Jones.
Given that he was up against Devon Toner in the lineout, Kruis did brilliantly to put pressure on the Irish throw at crucial stages.
6. CJ Stander
Coming into the Six Nations, there was much expected of CJ Stander, however he has been Ireland’s stand out player in each of their three games.
Apart from being a brilliant ball carrier, Stander is also strong over the ball. A facet he highlighted by winning two turnovers against England.
7. Sam Warburton
Given the clamour to include Justin Tipuric, Sam Warburton was under pressure before Wales’ clash with France.
However after moving back into the number seven jersey, Warburton was back to his usual disruptive self, making 13 tackles and winning two turnovers.
8. Billy Vunipola
It is strange to think that during Stuart Lancaster’s reign, Billy Vunipola rarely finish games. However under Eddie Jones, the big Saracens number eight is not only destructive, but more importantly, seems very confident.
Against Ireland, Vunipola won a massive 94 meters from 17 carries, and proved to be the catalyst for many of England’s attacks.
9. Greig Laidlaw
Although Conor Murray and Gareth Davies put in quality performances this weekend, Laidlaw was crucial to Scotland’s win in Rome.
With Nel providing a steady stream of penalties, Scotland needed Laidlaw to step up to keep the scoreboard ticking over. The scrum half did just that, notching up 21 points over the course of the game.
10. Johnny Sexton
After a week in which there was much debate surrounding the series of concussions suffered by Johnny Sexton, the Irish fly half was very influential in Twickenham.
Apart from kicking his goals, Sexton was part of a backline that opened up England on a number of occasions, moving the ball at pace and linking up with his midfield effectively.
11. George North
It was not too long ago that commentators were debating the merits of including George North in the Welsh team. However, the big winger’s confidence seems to have returned, following his brilliant try against Scotland.
He underlined his pace, if not his footballing abilities, finishing off a move that started after Jonathan Davies identified the acres of space behind the French defensive line.
12. Robbie Henshaw
Although Robbie Hensahw played at second centre against England, his performance warranted inclusion in our team.
The Irish centre was once more superb, threatening his opposite number, not only with his size, but with pace, soft hand and subtle feet. Attributes that enabled Henshaw make a massive 108 meters in Twickenham.
13. Michele Campagnaro
When Sergio Parisse does eventually retire, Italy will need players such as Michele Campagnaro to fill the void.
Like his more illustrious compatriot, Campagnaro has the ability to shine when all around him appear to falling by the wayside.
Indeed his attacking instincts allow him to take advantage of situations even when Italy appear to be struggling. Facets he has demonstrated against Scotland, gaining 46 meters and beating seven defenders.
14. Anthony Watson
Arguably the best finisher in the northern hemisphere, Anthony Watson is a very exciting player to watch. Armed with lightening pace, and a mesmerising step, Watson can threaten even the most organised defences.
Something he demonstrated against Ireland, gaining 87 meters and scoring a memorable try.
15. Stuart Hogg
Another player who needed to step up to the plate in Rome, Stuart Hogg delivered a superb offload to Tommy Seymour who touched down for the try that sealed Scotland’s victory.
Hogg’s pace and vision allows him to identify weak defenders and enter the line to take full advantage.
Alan Drumm, Pundit Arena
Read More About: alun wyn jones, Anthony Watson, billy vunipola, cj stander, England, France, george kruis, george north, greig laidlaw, Guilhem Guirado, Ireland, Italy, Jefferson Poirot, Johnny Sexton, Michele Campagnaro, robbie henshaw, sam warburton, Scotland, Six Nations, stuart hogg, Wales, wp nel