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lunes, 13 de febrero de 2012

SIX NATIONS

Six Nations: Team of Round 2

13th February 2012

So the action in Paris never got going and we are still yet to hear of a re-arranged date for the game, with 80,000 fans now just about cooling down after being left high and dry. Tournament officials have confirmed that the match will be staged during one of the break weekends, either February 18 and 19 or March 3 and 4. We wait.
Two games did go ahead over the weekend though, and after much debate, we chose to put together a XV from action in Rome and Cardiff.
XV of Round Two


15 Leigh Halfpenny (Wales) - If we were picking a British & Irish Lions XV today then it would be hard to refuse the Cardiff Blues man a spot at either full-back or wing. Halfpenny was electric for Wales on Sunday as he popped up in a couple of try-scoring positions and also kicked well from the tee. A mention for Rory Lamont who returned strongly from the back for Scotland.
14 Alex Cuthbert (Wales) - After a somewhat disappointing performance against Ireland in Round One which led to him leaving the field early on in Dublin, Cuthbert was handed a second chance over the weekend and grabbed it with both hands. His power with ball in hand was a constant issue for Scotland and he was deserving of the first try in Cardiff.
13 Jonathan Davies (Wales) - The English-born centre is playing beyond his tender 23 years at the moment and to many of our readers has overtaken Brian O'Driscoll in the British & Irish pecking order - granted the latter is injured. That should take nothing away from Davies' form as his ability to break the line is superb. Shout out for England's Brad Barritt.
12 Owen Farrell (England) - Both players at the Millennium Stadium, Jamie Roberts and Sean Lamont, were busy in attack on Sunday. However, for his cool composure from the tee when it mattered, Farrell sneaks this berth as his international stock continues to rise. Manu Tuilagi has his work cut out displacing either one of Farrell and Barritt in Round Three.
11 Stuart Hogg (Scotland) - Romain Poite would have been the most wanted man in the Hogg household this morning had the youngster not backed up his almost-score. Replays showed that Hogg had not spilled the ball en route to the line, which would have made for a perfect individual bow. Expect a start in a fortnight's time, Stuart.
10 Rhys Priestland (Wales) - It was tough to overlook Greig Laidlaw after his 13-point showing but there is just something about Priestland that makes this Dragons team tick. He constantly challenges the line and will often complete an offload that allows Roberts and Davies to thrive. His half-back combination with Mike Phillips should only get stronger.
9 Lee Dickson (England) - The aforementioned Phillips was his usual industrious self and his physicality was evident when he stayed strong in the tackle to allow Halfpenny an easy run to the line. But for the match-winning impact that Dickson made after replacing Ben Youngs at the English base, we go for him. Quick service and a busy attitude were key.
8 Sergio Parisse (Italy) - Man-of-the-match in Rome with another typically Parisse-like performance, Sergio carried and scrapped for everything but unfortunately it was not enough against England. I was again impressed by Toby Faletau's qualities in open play as he also made 22 tackles for his country while David Denton was just as strong for Scotland.
7 Chris Robshaw (England) - Now this was tough. Ross Rennie and Aaron Shingler were both superb as the former demonstrated why he is being picked over John Barclay. Shingler meanwhile has serious pace and power that bodes well for Wales should Sam Warburton need rest. But for a captain's performance when it was needed, Robshaw gets the nod after making seventeen tackles, which was double that of any of his team-mates could manage.
6 Dan Lydiate (Wales) - Like the soon-to-be-mentioned Gethin Jenkins, this Welshmen returned to the fray in real style and in fact picked up the man-of-the-match award thanks to a barnstorming showing before he was called off by Warren Gatland. A bright future.
5 Ryan Jones (Wales) - Yes, he wore number four but such was the performance of the stand-in captain that we had to have him involved. Jones seems reborn this term and offered Wales a great deal with his running game, acting as a fourth back-rower at the Millennium Stadium on Sunday. He also completed an impressive sixteen tackles.
4 Richie Gray (Scotland) - It says something that we're struggling to repeat ourselves about what the Glasgow Warrior can do on a rugby field. An excellent all-action performance.
3 Lorenzo Cittadini (Italy) - This was the toughest decision to make. Geoff Cross and Adam Jones enjoyed decent days at the office and while Dan Cole did a job in Rome, the trio hardly stood out as world beaters. But there was one man who emerged from the shadow of Martin Castrogiovanni to do well for Italy and that was Cittadini, who made more of an impact and tackles (seven) than his tighthead rivals. He will get another run in a fortnight.
2 Ross Ford (Scotland) - Early sparring at the Millennium Stadium illustrated the ferocity of the home defence, with the visitors struggling to make any headway. Yet Ford continuously managed to get over the gainline and went on to make a decent twenty metres in ground.
1 Gethin Jenkins (Wales) - Back in the thick of it with aplomb, Jenkins returned in place of Saracens loosehead Rhys Gill and was his usual complete self for Wales against Scotland.

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