The fantasy sprint finish
March 12, 2013
Richard Hibbard's try secured him five extra points © Getty Images
Last weekend's winning team - Glyndwr Warriors (73 points)
The latest round of Six Nations action has been and gone and although four of the teams may have you believe otherwise, all the focus will be on Wales' match against England this weekend. But from a fantasy point of view, if your team is to be successful then you will need to keep your eyes trained on all three matches rather than just the Grand Slam-decider. And it is tight at the top of the fantasy leaderboard with just three points separating first and eleventh place.
Ahead of the final weekend of championship rugby, we give you a run-down of the state of play after round four and also give an update on any team and injury news.
Richard Hibbard was the only front-rower to bag a try at the weekend so unsurprisingly, he was the round's top scorer in this area of the pitch with seven points. After Hibbard there are a host of players on three points with all seven rewarded for playing the full 80 minutes - France's Nicolas Mas, Ireland's Cian Healy, Mike Ross and Rory Best, Scotland's Ross Ford and Ryan Grant and Wales' Adam Jones.
Gethin Jenkins looks fit to return for Wales at the weekend so he may come into the team in place of Paul James while Italy are sweating on the fitness of Martin Castrogiovanni, who was forced off in the first-half of their match against England. He is the top-scoring front-rower overall at present with 12 points - he is tied at the summit with Healy.
No lock managed to get over the try line at the weekend but a host managed 80 minutes and collected the three points. Wales' Alun-Wyn Jones and Ian Evans both played full games as did Scotland's Jim Hamilton, Ireland's Mike McCarthy and France's Christophe Samson. England's Joe Launchbury also played the full match but he is an injury doubt ahead of the Slam decider in Cardiff so make sure you keep a close eye on Thursday's team announcement.
England are also monitoring top-scoring lock Geoff Parling's fitness while Courtney Lawes is also a doubt. Parling currently sits on 16 points at the summit of the second-row leader board while Hamilton is on 14 and Yoann Maestri is on 11. Scotland's Richie Gray is also on 11 but he will definitely sit out their game against France with a hamstring injury while Donnacha Ryan is a doubt for Ireland's game versus Italy.
Two back-rowers managed to score tries in round four and they sit proudly on eight points and at the summit of the rankings. Louis Picamoles crossed against Ireland and emulated fellow No.8 Jamie Heaslip who scored earlier in the match. Wales' Sam Warburton also scooped eight points as he was handed the Man of the Match award for his impressive performance against Scotland. He may well re-take the captaincy for their match on Saturday with Ryan Jones an injury doubt. He picked up a shoulder injury on Saturday but before that, he teed up Hibbard's score so he gets five points for the appearance and the assist.
Ireland celebrate Jamie Heaslip's score © PA Photos
Sergio Parisse was perhaps unlucky not to be awarded the Man of the Match gong for his huge performance against England but is definitely worth a place in your fantasy team and sits third overall in the back-row standings with 17 points. England skipper Chris Robshaw leads the table at the moment with 22 points with Picamoles in second on 21. Heaslip, Alessandro Zanni and Parisse are tied in third with 17.
Conor Murray was awarded Man of the Match for his showing against France so he collected seven points for round four. But Eoin Reddan, who replaced Murray, broke his leg against France and faces a lengthy spell on the sidelines. Elsewhere in the No.9 rankings, Morgan Parra slotted two penalties so he collected four points while Danny Care and Mike Phillips received two points for their starts.
England may opt to reintroduce Ben Youngs from the start for Saturday's match so keep an eye on that and he sits second in the overall rankings. Murray is first on 17 points while Parra is third with 10.
Owen Farrell looks set to return at fly-half for England on Saturday and he sits second in the standings with 31 points for the No.10s. But leading the way is Scotland's Greig Laidlaw who has proved to be metronomic with the boot. He was the joint top points scorer for round four with nine, despite starting at scrum-half, and has 37 points overall.
Farrell's replacement Toby Flood played well against Italy and has nine points from the weekend's endeavours while Paddy Jackson recorded six and Frederic Michalak five. For those who have Jackson in their team, Jonathan Sexton is fit and could return at fly-half for their match against Italy. And it is an Italian who is ranked third overall. Luciano Orquera has been one of the finds of the Six Nations and has 28 points with eight of them coming for his showing against England, including three for his assist in Luke McLean's try.
Luke McLean is mobbed after scoring against England © Getty Images
In a weekend where only four tries were scored across the three games, unfortunately for the contingent in the centres, none of them managed to bag a try, an assist or a Man of the Match award. So therefore the most points any of them scored was three with seven achieving this.
With regards to injury news, Ireland duo Luke Marshall and Brian O'Driscoll were both concussed against France but Declan Kidney is hopeful that the pair will be fit for their trip to Italy. And from a fantasy point of view, those who have O'Driscoll in their team will also hope that he is able to take to the Rome turf as he is the top scoring centre so far. He has 25 points to his name while Matt Scott and Jonathan Davies are second with 17. Manu Tuilagi and Jamie Roberts, who look set to come face-to-face on Saturday, are third on 12.
Leigh Halfpenny was once again the top-scoring outside back with 11 but this week there are two Italians occupying second and third place in the standings. Andrea Masi played the full 80 and was handed the Man of the Match award, taking his tally to eight points, while McLean crossed for the Azzurri and also picks up two appearance points. After that trio, 15 players played full matches so all received three points.
In the overall standings for the backs, Halfpenny's total of 48 points is more than double Sean Maitland's effort of 23, who sits in second. Alex Cuthbert is next on 22 while Stuart Hogg has 20. In team news ahead of the weekend, Craig Gilroy should return for Ireland with Fergus McFadden ruled out but keep on checking ESPNscrum for all the latest from around the camps.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Tom Hamilton is the Assistant Editor of ESPNscrum.
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