Team of the week: England, Scotland, France standouts combine, but Ireland absent
Watch England complete their pre-Rugby World Cup Test schedule against Italy, live on Sky Sports on September 6
By Ben Grounds
Last Updated: 26/08/19 10:55am
Find out who makes it into our XV this week as the standouts from the latest round of pre-World Cup summer Tests combine.
See who makes our cut and have your say when it comes to the most influential player of the weekend with our vote below...
15. Stuart Hogg (Scotland)
Elliot Daly showed what a valuable asset he is as an attacking full-back as he claimed a twelfth Test try after a superb draw-and-give from Tom Curry. But after being beaten for pace for Bundee Aki's late score, Hogg takes the jersey.
The only player who was retained in Scotland's starting XV from the defeat in Nice, so keen was Hogg to play in the 17-14 win over France, he reportedly demanded his own inclusion from the off.
Hogg beat four defenders in total and made one glorious clean break, chasing his own chip from which he was unfortunate not to score a try. The full-back embarked frequently on his trademark weaving runs, kicked and countered well.
14. Damian Penaud (France)
Penaud took full advantage of another sloppy Scotland start to nudge France ahead after one minute and 50 seconds, showing good anticipation to intercept Peter Horne's pass to Hogg before galloping home unchallenged.
A knock-on from the French wing almost led to a Scotland try but he beat three defenders and made three tackles during a solid overall display.
The converted centre helped himself to his second try when sent through by Sofiane Guitoune after he had swept outside Ryan Wilson.
Jacques Brunel will take consolation from currently boasting one of the game's most in-form wingers. An honourable mention must go to Joe Cokanasiga after his fourth and fifth tries in just his seventh Test for England.
13. Manu Tuilagi (England)
Chris Harris impressed in scoring a try for Scotland but it has to be England's X-Factor in the 57-15 win over Ireland.
Tuilagi's try and big hits will be remembered from his man-of-the-match performance at Twickenham, but what we will see most frequently in Japan is his ability to drive with his powerful legs.
"Any doubts about his groins being in trouble should be got rid of straightaway," Will Greenwood said afterwards.
Tuilagi made 56 metres with the ball in hand, beating seven defenders as part of 11 carries.
"What we saw from Manu is he's looking at weaker shoulders," said 2014 World Cup winner Emily Scarratt.
"He's not trying to run through the trunk of somebody that perhaps we've seen in the past."
His explosiveness is his USP, while his low body angles gave him the self-belief to take on the entire Irish team.
12. Owen Farrell (England)
Farrell converted six of the tries, landed an early penalty from inside centre, and he dovetailed superbly with George Ford throughout.
Already back to near his best in his first start this summer, Farrell spoke of more to come - and the one kick he did miss will annoy him.
11. Sean Maitland (Scotland)
Maitland produced three tackles and looked sharp on the wing, making three clean breaks to add to his well-taken try.
The Saracens man constantly sought work and must now be wrapped in cotton wool as Scotland's first-choice number 11.
10. George Ford (England)
Ford, with his fizzing passes, continues to make a strong case for starting at fly-half. With slick handling and when at the top of his game, this guy oozes class.
Reunited with Farrell as playmaker, the pair ran Ireland ragged, sucking in defenders time and time again as he exploited the space out wide caused by Tuilagi.
Having resurrected the Ford-Farrell axis, head coach Eddie Jones admitted his pleasure at seeing 'another option' function well, and a wry smile may just have given away that it is now firmly Option A.
9. Greig Laidlaw (Scotland)
Laidlaw made all his kicks as part of an impressive outing as captain.
The scrum-half constantly delivered clean ball for his backs from the ruck. Only one or two debatable box kicks spoiled his performance but it was a tactic that largely paid off for the hosts.
1. Jefferson Poirot (France)
Poirot ultimately suffered in the scrum on Saturday, but he spoke bullishly after the defeat at Murrayfield, believing that come the World Cup, the balance in the France side will be better than their opponents over the past two weekends.
"I would still prefer to be in our position," he said. "We won by 30 points last week, and this week they win by three, so we're left scratching our heads. But I'm not worried. As long as we have the right state of mind, I'm not worried."
The words of a confident man who can take plenty of heart from his own performance. Poirot made seven tackles, produced five ball carries, and even made one clean break during a lively 50-minute hit-out.
2. Jamie George (England)
George was slightly quieter than normal with the ball in hand but an immaculate record in the lineout is no small feat when you consider how his counterpart Roy Best struggled.
England won their own scrums so you can't really ask for too much more.
3. WP Nel (Scotland)
WP Nel was joined by Gordon Reid in solidifying a scrum that wobbled last week in Nice and can be very pleased with his job.
Nel was guilty of the occasional loose pass but he dusted off any pre-season rustiness by adding some good carries to sound scrummaging.
4. Maro Itoje (England)
Itoje ran Tuilagi close as England's outstanding individual, making nine tackles and missing none during a phenomenal first 40 minutes.
The Saracens lock was part of seven winning lineouts and capped a virtuoso display with his fifth international try after a fine short line. One of his best performances in a Red Rose shirt.
"He's just putting his game together now," Jones said. "He came through like a meteor, flattened out a little bit and now he's finding different parts to his game. I thought him and George Kruis today were absolutely outstanding."
5. Sam Skinner (Scotland)
Skinner edges out Kruis in our line-up, with his hard tackling and sheer ability to be a nuisance at the breakdown ensuring Scotland avenged the defeat last weekend in France.
Another key player for Gregor Townsend, Skinner hobbled off with a hamstring injury in the 61st minute, making him unlikely to face Georgia next weekend. It would be a cruel blow if he were not to be on the plane for Japan.
6. Tom Curry (England)
Jones described Curry and Sam Underhill as the "Kamikaze kids" in relation to the pair's full-blooded nature, and it was on full show from Curry as another all-action display underlined his importance to the side.
The breakdown area is vital to England's chances of a second World Cup success, and with the openside specialist back in the team, England showed fast, clean ball.
Curry produced 12 carries, made 44 metres and eight tackles to add to his try on another hugely impressive display.
7. Hamish Watson (Scotland)
Underhill worked in unison with Curry, and his four carries, and 11 tackles underlined an industrial performance, but it was eclipsed by Watson, Scotland's man of the match against France.
The Edinburgh flanker put in a typical shift, full of balls stolen, passes sprayed and yards made. Even with the loss of his headband, there was no disguising Scotland's star performer.
Townsend's men are an entirely different proposition when Watson is at his best.
8. Billy Vunipola (England)
Vunipola's physicality in his ball-carrying and streetwise scavenging at the turnover kept England on top. An unstoppable battering ram who just loves playing the game.
An outstanding ever-present this summer, Vunipola is integral to England's World Cup chances, but that didn't stop him from yet again transforming into a human wrecking ball against Ireland.
"He was immense and he's a huge player," Sir Clive Woodward told Sky Sports. "It was his offloading that stood out. His pop passes - that he makes look so simple - are amazing but he's such a physical player.
"He plays better with two out-and-out sevens alongside him, and that was proved today."