Team of the week: Ireland and the Hurricanes dominate
Last Updated: 20/03/17 12:30pm
Seven teams are represented in our team of the week with Ireland and the Hurricanes leading the way after their impressive victories on Saturday.
England's hopes of back-to-back Grand Slams were dashed in Dublin as Ireland ended an inconsistent campaign on a positive note, while the Hurricanes cut loose in Wellington, scoring seven tries against the Highlanders.
A number of impressive performers miss out, including half-backs Finn Russell and Baptiste Serin, with Jonny Gray and CJ Stander losing out to a Hurricanes forward duo.
15. Jordie Barrett (Hurricanes)
Given New Zealand's injury problems in the back three, former All Black Nick Evans believes 20-year-old Barrett could be the answer to Steve Hansen's problems.
The younger brother of Beauden, Jordie starred in the Hurricanes' crushing win over the Highlanders. He produced an inch-perfect cross-field kick for Ngani Laumape's first try and then threw a ridiculous round-the-back pass to put Matt Proctor over after the restart.
Barrett looked comfortable slotting in at first receiver, even overruling his brother at one stage in demanding the ball!
14. Henry Speight (Brumbies)
Speight scored two brilliant second-half tries as the Brumbies beat the Waratahs in Sydney.
The winger collected Joe Powell's box kick around 50 metres out, kicked ahead and turned on the gas to score next to the posts.
And with the Waratahs mounting a fightback, Speight put the game to bed when he brushed off two attempted tackles to touch down.
13. Garry Ringrose (Ireland)
The 22-year-old was one of the best backs on show in Dublin as he outshone opposite number Jonathan Joseph.
Ringrose was a constant threat with ball in hand, regularly getting over the gainline thanks to some excellent footwork and running lines, and he also threw a great pass to release Keith Earls down the wing.
12. Ngani Laumape (Hurricanes)
Robbie Henshaw was outstanding for Ireland but he loses out to Laumape after his two-try display against the Highlanders.
The rugby league convert touched down either side of the interval in Wellington, making 67 metres from 12 carries and beating four defenders.
Four missed tackles won't please his coach but Laumape made up for that with ball in hand.
11. Ramiro Moyano (Los Jaguares)
Alexis Palisson scored three tries in Toulouse's win over Lyon but he is edged out by fellow hat-trick hero Moyano.
The former Sevens star crossed twice in the opening 29 minutes of their bonus-point win over the Cheetahs, a result which lifted them to the top of the South Africa conference.
Moyano made three line breaks and beat five defenders as he made 50 metres from seven carries. He also won two defensive turnovers before completing his hat-trick with four minutes remaining.
10. Johnny Sexton (Ireland)
The fly-half was on the receiving end of some crunching tackles against England, some of them late, but kept his composure to lead Ireland to victory.
Sexton mixed his game up well as Ireland dominated possession and territory, and he landed all three kicks from the tee for an eight-point return.
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He also kicked intelligently from hand and was as tenacious as ever in defence, making six tackles and winning one turnover.
9. Augustine Pulu (Blues)
Kieran Marmion was excellent for Ireland in Conor Murray's absence but Pulu gets the nod for his superb attacking display against the Crusaders.
The 27-year-old made a great break and offload to create George Moala's first try, and he followed that with a fantastic behind-the-back pass to Patrick Tuipulotu and received the return pass to weave his way over the tryline.
Pulu made 59 metres from 15 carries, beating five defenders.
1. Sona Taumalolo (Grenoble)
It has been a difficult week off the pitch for Grenoble but they showed fighting spirit on it by snatching a late draw at home to Toulon on Sunday.
None more than Tonga prop Taumalolo, who produced a battling 80-minute display at Stade des Alpes. He made eight tackles, nine carries and was solid in the scrum as Grenoble kept their slim survival hopes alive.
2. Rory Best (Ireland)
Best has had some shaky days during the Six Nations but was back on form on Saturday.
The Ireland skipper had a 90 per cent success rate at the lineout and was as industrious as ever in the loose, making five carries, six tackles and winning a turnover.
Best's high work-rate continued when he returned from a HIA and he frustrated England at the breakdown, while also communicating well with referee Jerome Garces.
3. Tadgh Furlong (Ireland)
Another player who was back at his best on Saturday. Furlong caused England serious problems in the scrum and he made some hard carries from static ball.
The tighthead made 11 tackles, one less than team leaders Iain Henderson and Peter O'Mahony, and nine carries in a fine 75-minute display.
4. Michael Fatialofa (Hurricanes)
Jonny Gray impressed as Scotland bounced back from their Twickenham drubbing with a whitewashing of Italy but Fatialofa gets the No 4 shirt for his display against the Highlanders.
The 24-year-old atoned for his sin-binning during the Hurricanes' loss to the Chiefs in round three, leading the tackle charts with 12 and chipping in with nine carries.
Fatialofa also won three lineouts and made a crucial steal during the second half as the 'Canes cantered to victory.
5. Iain Henderson (Ireland)
The Ulsterman justified his promotion to the starting line-up, stretching out to score the game's only try on 24 minutes.
Henderson and Peter O'Mahony were rocks in defence, making a team-leading 12 tackles apiece. The former also stole an English lineout in an excellent all-round display.
6. Peter O'Mahony (Ireland)
The Munster captain had to bide his time during the Six Nations and after being a late inclusion following an injury to Jamie Heaslip in the warm-up and O'Mahony produced one of his best performances in an Ireland shirt.
The blindside worked his socks off, making 12 tackles and 10 carries, and was a menace at the lineout. He claimed Rory Best's throw for Iain Henderson's try and disrupted English ball, making one steal.
7. Justin Tipuric (Wales)
The openside got through a mountain of work in Paris as Wales suffered late heartbreak against Les Bleus.
Tipuric made a team-high 21 tackles and won two defensive turnovers as Wales were put under sustained pressure by France. He was Wales' go-to man at the front of the lineout, taking four throws, and also chipped in in attack with seven carries.
Notable mentions to Sean O'Brien and La Rochelle's Levani Botia.
8. Ardie Savea (Hurricanes)
Savea seamlessly switched from openside to No 8 against the Highlanders as he wreaked havoc with ball in hand.
The 23-year-old All Black made a team-high 17 carries, beating two defenders and making five offloads for a gain of 59 metres.
Savea also made eight tackles, missing none, won two turnovers and was a useful option at the lineout.