And we’re underway! The Guinness Six Nations opening weekend delivered plenty of drama and action with France, Ireland and Scotland keeping their Grand Slam ambitions alive. In line with our Fantasy League predictions, each week we’ll be selecting six players that we think really stood out over Six Nations weekend.
So, who made our list for Round One?
France: Gregory Alldritt
Gabian Villiere may have caught the headlines with his hattrick, but Alldritt was central to France controlling most of the game. 113 metres made with three tackle breaks helped France burst through Italy’s defence, offering space out wide for the dangerous duo of Villiere and Damian Penaud to attack.
Expect Alldritt to put in a bigger defensive performance against Ireland who will also prove a tougher opponent to break down this weekend.
Ireland: Garry Ringrose
As good as any bonus point victory in the Six Nations is, you just had that feeling that Ireland were no where near their best. Silly errors and poor decision-making cost the Irish what could have been a rampant victory over Wales. But central to some of Ireland’s better attacking play was Ringrose.
Bundee Aki did a fantastic job of making bruising holes in the Welsh defence, allowing Ringrose to target the out of position Josh Adams; his only try of the day eventually coming before being subbed off after 60 minutes. With the competition provided at centre, Ringrose has done enough to hold off replacement James Hume for another week.
Scotland: Darcy Graham
Matt Fagerson had a standout performance at No 8, but Graham was on fire. Going into a wet and windy Calcutta Cup tie, many were questioning whether he was the right player for the conditions. Very quickly, the Hawick speedster proved his doubters wrong.
Seven defenders beaten – more than the entire English team combined – gave Scotland an attacking boost in a day where opportunities were scarce. Some lovely footwork set up an impressive debut try for Ben White. Then, as if all that wasn’t enough, Scotland’s smallest player delivered the crucial turnover that confirmed Scotland’s victory. Overall, a pretty fine day out for young Darcy.
All he needs is a Scotland Cup Winners 2022 jersey to celebrate, right?
England: Marcus Smith
It may not have been the result England wanted, but victory wasn’t far away. Indeed, their game-plan seemed rather similar to the one adopted by Scotland in the reverse fixture at Twickenham last year – kick for territory and force the opposition into attacking mistakes.
Marcus Smith did a decent job of that – although you would have to question the decision to kick with every attacking opportunity near the Scotland 22. Conditions certainly didn’t suit his style of play but with an impressive points haul, he showed glimpses of being able to do more than fancy steps and offloads.
Wales: Taine Basham
Let’s be honest, it was a fairly miserable day on the whole for Wales. Nothing seemed to click in attack or defence. Indeed, when Basham finally crossed the line for their only try of the day, they were the beneficiaries of a frankly horrendous mistake from the hands of Tadhg Beirne.
Alongside that opportunistic try, Basham impressed by making 21 tackles and carrying 93 metres with the ball in hand. While Wales continue to suffer their injury woes, at least they have an exciting youngster in Basham that looks like a quality international player already.
Italy: Sebastian Negri
Despite what the scoreline suggests, this was an improved Italian performance. A dogged determination kept them in the game at half-time and they ultimately conceded fewer points than the All Blacks had back in November.
As one of the few experienced heads left in that Italian side, Negri was his usual bruising self. With a long campaign to go, Italy’s search for a first win since 2015 is still very much achievable.Wales v Italy on Super Saturday could turn out to be a tasty affair…
There we go, our first Six Stars for 2022. But with the action continuing this weekend, everything is to play for! Do you agree with our selections?
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