Neither France nor Ireland have it all their own way

Jack Willis scores England's try against Italy - Paul Childs/Action Images

Jack Willis scores England’s try against Italy – Paul Childs/Action Images

After two rounds, a clear separation has emerged between the title contenders and the popular pack.

Ireland and France are the most serious, with their classic turn in Dublin after 46 minutes of ball being played, closely followed by the Scottish team who were a joy to watch.

A step down are England, Wales and Italy, teams starting from the ground up after changing coaches or, in Italy’s case, trying to reverse the failed Six Nations years.

But which players have delivered enough magical individual moments to make our team of the week?

15. Hugo Keenan (Ireland)

After starting to slide through France from trademark strike play, invented by Joe Schmidt and in place for more than a decade, Keenan was relaxed. He hit the line to connect Ireland’s attacks on many occasions and hit an impressive 50:22 in the second half.

14. Damian Penaud (France)

As written on this website, the Clermont man put on a wing performance for the ages. The scorer of France’s first try – very impressive – was a frantic, frenzied ball. Non-stop.

13. Garry Ringrose (Ireland)

Garry Ringrose runs in for Ireland's try against France - John Dickson/Getty Images

Garry Ringrose runs in for Ireland’s try against France – John Dickson/Getty Images

Huw Jones was close here. His behavior was carved up in Wales. Ignacio Brex was also among Italy’s best at Twickenham. Ringrose got his point, however, with Ireland’s bonus point try, which left three defenders in his wake.

12. Ollie Lawrence (England)

Sterner’s challenges lie ahead, but this was a brilliant start to Lawrence’s Test career resume. A spare under Eddie Jones, he was the focal point at Twickenham and carried himself fiercely for the entire game.

11. Duhan van der Merwe (Scotland)

James Lowe may be unlucky here. Apart from his acrobatic finishing – which was impressive regardless of whether he was in touch – the Irish winger was very influential on the boot. Van der Merwe then delivered another masterclass in elimination, picking up 100 running meters and driving through nine tasks.

10. Finn Russell (Scotland)

A brilliant second came in a rather dull first half as Russell tormented Wales at Murrayfield opening up his bag of tricks – backhand runs, clever kick passes – and tiresome defensive teasing. Now he goes to his hometown, Paris. What a prospect.

9. Antoine Dupont (France)

Antoine Dupont shows incredible strength to hold off Mack Hansen - David Rogers/Getty Images

Antoine Dupont shows incredible strength to hold off Mack Hansen – David Rogers/Getty Images

Mack Hansen’s save has already entered the canon of iconic Six Nations moments. Time, gravity, the limits of human possibility; they all seemed to stop as Dupont pulled the Irish wing back from whence he had come.

1. Cyril Baille (France)

Having established himself as one of the world’s greatest rugby players, Baille has been a bit out of the bubble on the international stage recently. Not on Saturday, however, as he behaved strongly and defended heroically; putting Ireland up over the line twice.

2. George Turner (Scotland)

He earned a yellow card for a high tackle on George North and a spill near the try line in the second half, but Turner scored against Great Britain and is enjoying a great tournament. Perhaps unexpectedly, given the reputations of Dan Sheehan and Julien Marchand, he is the best hurler in the Six Nations so far.

3. Finlay Belham (Ireland)

In the absence of Tadhg Furlong, there were concerns about whether Belham could handle the attack of France’s belligerent pack. Not only was he brave enough, but his pass for Ireland’s first try proved he had brains too.

4. Thibaud Flament (France)

French lock Thibaud Flament tackles Irish captain Peter O'Mahony - Paul Ellis/AFP

French lock Thibaud Flament tackles Irish captain Peter O’Mahony – Paul Ellis/AFP

Comfortably the best show for his country, and he has made his own. Carried more than any French goalkeeper, tackled more than any player on the pitch, and also won the most in the game.

5. James Ryan (Ireland)

Phenomenal again, making it his best in 2018. Ireland’s heartbeat dominates the tight exchanges; in charge of their fight count and rackling up countless bears.

6. Caelan Doris (Ireland)

Doris slips to six to make way for another No. 8, but that’s by no means a statement of her performance. Sometimes, you see era-defining performances at rugby matches. On Saturday, Doris was definitely one.

7. Jack Willis (England)

How exciting it was to see the outpouring of emotion when Willis curled over the try line to score England’s first try against Italy. That finish was just one component of an all-action performance that featured 22 tackles in 53 minutes and a trademark jackal turnover. Even if Steve Borthwick’s back options are plentiful, you get the feeling that Willis will always be in the conversation.

8. Matt Fagerson (Scotland)

Tough and determined, Fagerson was instrumental in another Scottish victory. He racked up 19 tackles and 13 carries as Wales were overwhelmed. Along with Luke Crosbie and Jamie Ritchie, Fagerson was excellent.

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