The second round of the Guinness Six Nations is in the books with wins for Ireland, Wales and England – the latter recording their biggest win over France in more than a century.
Dmax provides live and exclusive coverage of all Guinness Six Nations matches in Italy with Daniele Piervincenzi, host of the TV show ‘Rugby Social Club’.
Piervincenzi is joined by former Italy scrum-half Paul Griffen, commentators Antonio Raimondi and Vittorio Munari as well as TV star and ex-rugby player Chef Rubio.
He has put together his team of the week, with England unsurprisingly leading the way with six members of the team, along with four Irishmen.
It’s a tricky one, but I’ll go with Liam Williams who was an important part of Wales’ win over Italy in Rome. They were pushed very hard for an hour and it was Williams who made the difference in the second half to set up Josh Adams’ try. A word also for Yoann Huget, who will come in for criticism for France’s struggles in their kick defence, but looked very dangerous with ball in hand.
This is a pretty simple one. A hat-trick in half an hour and Jonny May was deservedly man of the match for England. His speed made the English kicking game even more of a threat and it was also his chase that set up Owen Farrell’s try. I’ve switched him to the other wing, but I don’t think that would be an issue in the form he is currently in.
The English midfield was very good, but I’ll go with Jonathan Davies as Wales were really able to dominate thanks to their centres. Davies took over the captaincy and led by example, threatening every time he got the ball, while he also he was also very good defensively. It will be a different challenge in Round Three, but he was very impressive.
A very different performance to last week in Dublin, but no less effective from Manu Tuilagi. He had to deal with the threat of Mathieu Bastareaud and I thought he did that really well. The French centre never got the chance to influence the game at the breakdown like he did last year, and Tuilagi, along with Henry Slade, put him under pressure in defence all game long.
Jacob Stockdale just consistently racks up tries and he added another to his collection on Saturday. It was brilliantly worked to set him up, but Stockdale then had remarkable pace to get away and score it. His chip and chase is a real weapon too, it set up the opening try for Conor Murray, so I’ve got to put Stockdale in.
Coming into the Championship the big question seemed to be who could be more influential out of Johnny Sexton and Owen Farrell. At the moment I think Farrell is winning that battle and he was outstanding at Twickenham. Everything England do revolves around him, and his kicking game caused France problems all game long.
Conor Murray has come back from injury and looks to be up to full speed again. I was really impressed by his performance against Scotland as he helped Ireland get back to winning ways. His chase after Stockdale’s kick through was rewarded with a try and it was a great all-round performance at BT Murrayfield.
You could make a case for both Ireland props in the way they worked in a tandem in Edinburgh. I’ll go for Cian Healy at loosehead prop, he is exceptional form at the moment. Ireland had the upper hand up front and got the better of Scotland in the scrum. A word also for Mako Vunipola, who was good before going off injured against France.
He might be the oldest player in the Guinness Six Nations, but Rory Best is one of the best leaders in the Championship. He led from the front against Scotland and was key to Ireland’s victory. The lineout was perfect while he played his part at the breakdown as well. Best helped Ireland to seize control of the game in the second half.
I’m going to put in Demba Bamba, even though France were well-beaten at Twickenham. To do what he is doing at 20 years old is remarkable. He didn’t take a backwards step all game and more than held his own against a powerful English pack. Tadhg Furlong was very good too, but I think Bamba has to be in there.
In the second row I’m going with David Sisi, who I thought had a really good game against Wales. His ball-carrying is huge for us in Italy and he’s done really well given that he only made his debut last week against Scotland. I thought this was a much better performance for Italy than last week, and Sisi’s work-rate has been really impressive so far.
The biggest compliment I can pay to Courtney Lawes is that England did not miss Maro Itoje against France. A lot of people will talk about his tackle on Bastareaud, which was perfectly timed, but he did a lot more than just that. His contribution in the lineout and all game long was really important for England, who were able to dominate the game.
I’ve been really impressed by Mark Wilson in this year’s Guinness Six Nations, and he was excellent against France. Defensively he gets through a mountain of work and was part of an English back row that really controlled the game. Eddie Jones has lots of options but Wilson has been a standout so far.
A second Italian, but given Braam Steyn’s performance, I think this is fair enough. He was outstanding against Wales, scoring the first try of the game. That was only a small part of his contribution though, he also had one crucial turnover, a big lineout steal and some relentless tackling. It was an excellent display.
The English back row was so good that it is tempting to put all three of them in the team. Billy Vunipola gives England so much with his carrying. The game plan of kicking in behind relies on big carriers setting the platform and Vunipola did that with every carry, leaving the French defence on the back foot all afternoon.