Team of the Week - Round 4
March 12, 2012
Tom Croft scored the winner for England in Paris © Getty Images
England headlined the weekend's Six Nations action with a hard-fought 24-22 win over France in Paris, but Wales remain in pole position for Grand Slam glory.
Warren Gatland's side saw of a gritty Italian team 24-3 to set up a possible clean sweep against France next weekend. Ireland, meanwhile, ensured no happy Dublin memories for Scotland with a 32-14 win, but who made the grade in our Team of the Week?
15. Ben Foden (England)
The fullback had been sold short by his England team-mates prior to Sunday's win over France, but he showed his aptitude for a good support line to bag his side's second try and put them on their way to victory.
14. Alex Cuthbert (Wales)
The Cardiff Blues wing picked up the Man of the Match award in Wales' win over Italy and his tireless work off the ball was rewarded late in the game with a breakaway try, his second in Tests.
13. Manu Tuilagi (England)
Since his reintroduction to the side following injury England have rediscovered a cutting edge in attack. His charge to the corner for their first try against France showed a good turn of pace and eye for an opportunity, even if it was perhaps overshadowed by Chris Ashton's tackle and Owen Farrell's offload in the build-up.
12. Wesley Fofana (France)
France weren't at the races collectively on Sunday, but Fofana again found time to shine. His try late on opened up their chance for an unlikely comeback and also continued an excellent record of tries in his first four Tests. It's easy, international rugby.
11. Chris Ashton (England)
Tempted as we were to drop him for mouthing off to referee Alain Rolland - costing his side a penalty - Ashton scrapes in on the back of that tackle. A moment of brilliance from the future Saracens man, and a game-changing one at that.
10. Owen Farrell (England)
The Jonny Wilkinson comparisons may be tiresome, but the young fly-half just keeps adding to his repertoire. His kicking from the tee was again immaculate in Paris and his offload for Tuilagi's try was sublime.
9. Lee Dickson (England)
Since stepping in for the out-of-sorts Ben Youngs, Dickson has added organisation and bite behind England's pack. His delivery is swift and he won't take a backwards step.
1. Gethin Jenkins (Wales)
The loosehead took over the captaincy from Sam Warburton after the flanker succumbed to injury and led from the front, battling at the breakdown and holding up his end of the scrum challenge against the Azzurri.
2. Rory Best (Ireland)
Another stand-in captain, Best accepted the honour from Paul O'Connell and crashed over for Ireland's first try against Scotland - his second of the tournament.
3. Dan Cole (England)
France wanted their scrum to be the fearsome platform exhibited against Scotland and in the latter stages against Ireland, but it didn't materialise. Cole was at the forefront and also made a telling contribution in defence, with one tackle saving a potential try.
4. Richie Gray (Scotland)
Another massive display from the Scotland lock, with a try to add to an all-action display. He will hope that his team-mates can catch up soon, as a career spent as a lone shining light could become wearisome. On current evidence, looks to be Scotland's best hope of a British & Irish Lions Test player in 2013.
5. Donnacha Ryan (Ireland)
The lock was thrust into the starting berth that his form this season deserved and he didn't disappoint. Excellent at the lineout and bullish in defence, he should be inked into the starting line-up from now on. Another Man of the Match.
6. Tom Croft (England)
The flanker is at his best in the wide open spaces and while there were few to be found against France, he showed acceleration and awareness to burst clear and seal the game for England with a solo try. Honourable mentions go to the superb Stephen Ferris of Ireland and Wales' tackling machine, Dan Lydiate.
7. Peter O'Mahony (Ireland)
A young player with plenty of promise, O'Mahony took his first Test start in his stride after being called in to replace the injured Sean O'Brien. A strong operator at the breakdown and workhorse around the field, he could be a real option in years to come.
8. Ben Morgan (England)
The Gloucester-bound back-rower had a storming first-half in Paris and punched holes through the French line seemingly at will. Once such burst created Foden's try and turned the game in England's favour early on.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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