Gameday 4 went as would have been expected result wise. There were some great individual performances put in over the weekend some up and coming stars made big statements while other experienced players gave an indication of why they have been such top players for so long. Some players were unfortunate to miss but here is a list of those who performed best over the weekend.
Loose Head – Cian Healy (Ireland)
The powerhouse prop rolled back the years to have a dominant display. He was unlucky not to be rewarded with a try as he came agonisingly close to applying downward pressure on the ball at the base of a French ruck. His work at the set piece put the opposition under huge pressure and he was always working hard at the breakdown.
Hooker – Jamie George (England)
It was great to see veteran Rory Best Score a try in what might be his final home appearance for Ireland. George just pips him though after another impressive performance. He has really grown into the role of starting at hooker for England and it will be very interesting to see if Dylan Hartley can force his way back in. As well as opening the floodgates for England with a try, he got an assist for another and made 14 tackles during the game.
Tight Head – Tadgh Furlong (Ireland)
Another huge shift put in by Furlong. Along with Healy and Best he had the French front 3 on the back foot throughout. The work he gets through as a tight head prop is unrivalled and he is now as important to the Irish team as players like Murray and Sexton.
Lock – James Ryan (Ireland)
What a revelation he has been since his debut. His energy is fantastic in defence and he has now taken on the role of important ball carrier for the Irish which was very evident against France. In the absence of Devin Toner he has stepped up in the lineout also, he just continues to improve.
Lock – Alun Wyn Jones (Wales)
What a great leadership performance from him. Wales were under huge pressure from Scotland in the second half but he never got flustered. It had been a turbulent fortnight for the Welsh prior to the Murrayfield game and without Jones bringing a calming influence Saturday may well have panned out very differently. His performances as player have also remained at the highest level throughout the championship, what a player.
Blind Side Flanker – Brad Shields (England)
The New Zealand born man had a great game against Italy. He managed to make a huge twenty tackles and really put his hand up to be a regular starter at number six. Shields also went through a huge amount of the work at the breakdown and he was rewarded with two tries for his efforts. Mark Wilson had been having a great championship but might struggle to win his place back against the Scottish.
Open Side Flanker – Hamish Watson (Scotland)
What an impact the returning Watson made. He almost turned the game in favour of Scotland with his barnstorming runs beating ten defenders in the process. He has been sorely missed to this point in the championship by the Scots and will be a huge threat to England on final weekend if he maintains a similar level of performance.
Number Eight – CJ Stander (Ireland)
Although some of the work done by Vunipola at Twickenham may have been more eye catching, Stander put in an immense shift for Ireland in every department. He is often the player used to get Ireland forward momentum and is a favourite of Joe Schmidt. If Wales can keep Stander quiet next weekend they will be going a long to keeping Ireland quiet also.
Scrum Half – Conor Murray (Ireland)
Still not at his imperious best he was much improved against France. The control he is so famous for was back and he linked everything between forwards and backs very well. Ireland like to play through the phases and Murray performing well is crucial to this. You get the feeling he will prove himself as the worlds top scrum half come the World Cup.
Out Half – Johnny Sexton (Ireland)
There were a few good performance at out half but Sexton just edges it. He grabbed himself a try and was the perfect conductor of the Irish attacks throughout. He was visibly frustrated after the game against Italy as he sets such high standards for himself and his team but he will been much happier with both after Sunday. Wales will be hoping Sexton and Murray haven’t found form at just the wrong time for them in their grand slam pursuit.
Left Wing – Josh Adams (Wales)
It has been a breakthrough championship for the Worcester winger. He scored a great individual try which was a definite contender for try of the weekend and of the championship so far. He seems to have secured a place in the Wales back three and it will be very interesting to see who makes way for Leigh Halfpenny, if anyone, when he is fully fit again.
Inside Centre – Hadleigh Parkes (Wales)
He never really has a bad game it seems. His reading of the game is as good as it gets and as he is a leader in the immense Welsh defence. He deservedly won man of the match against Scotland and his bloodied and bandaged face told everything you needed to know about his performance. It was probably the performance of the weekend.
Outside Centre – Jonathan Davies (Wales)
Manu Tuilagi exploited the space given to him at Twickenham to devastating effect and it is great to see him back in full flow. Davies alongside Parkes was at close to his fantastic best against Scotland though. He got a try and was excellent in defence against the Scottish which he really needed to be. The Welsh midfield partnership is the most settled in world rugby at present and their positions in the team are unquestionable at present.
Right Wing – Joe Cokanasiga (England)
What an introduction to the Six Nations. He proved there is much more to his game than just pace and power. He showed an excellent skill level in bringing about opportunities for other players in the game. The game gave big Joe a chance to nail down a place in the world cup squad and he must surely have done that now as well as putting himself in the box seat to start. Very exciting prospect.
Full Back – Liam Williams (Wales)
It is now hard to expect anything other than an excellent performance from the Saracen. His ability in the air is currently unrivalled by anyone else in the northern hemisphere. This ability will stand Wales in good stead next week when Ireland will undoubtedly put the under huge pressure with the boot. Warren Gatland can rely on his man at the back.
Written by Stefan Hamilton