ESPNscrum Fantasy Rugby - Six Nations
The runners and riders after round two
February 12, 2013
Leigh Halfpenny was the second top scorer in this week's Fantasy Game © PA Photos
The winning team - Tartan Army (73 points)
After an explosive start to the 2013 Six Nations last weekend, the weather, the pitches and the pressure all conspired to limit the points scoring in round two. However it was still an intense and fascinating weekend of action.
Following a weekend of big wins for Scotland, Wales and England, we assess how it has been for those playing our Fantasy Rugby game and also give an update on the team news ahead of next weekend's clashes - and until the first ball of the weekend is kicked, keep on checking the site for all the latest team news from the six camps.
However, if you are contemplating shuffling your fantasy pack, then bear in mind that you can make a total of 15 changes throughout the tournament and a maximum of five at any one time.
With just six tries over the whole weekend it's hardly surprising that none of them came from the front-row - that after three props crossing the white-wash last weekend. Therefore the top points-scoring front-rower this week is Scotland's Ross Ford, who was the only one to feature for the full 80 minutes and pick up a full appearance fee.
Part-appearance points - for starting but not finishing the game - went to all 12 front-rowers who started for their countries at the weekend, including leading points scorers Cian Healy, Martin Castrogiovanni, Leonardo Ghiraldini and Euan Murray. Interestingly, Healy was cited for an alleged stamp on Dan Cole following Ireland's defeat to England in Dublin but he was not disciplined during the game, so he did not lose any points for a yellow or red card. Therefore, he remains top of the overall charts for props, along with Italy's Martin Castrogiovanni. Although a potential ban could see him drop down the standings in weeks to come.
Again none of the second rows troubled the scorers but Geoff Parling, Mike McCarthy, Richie Gray, Alan Coombs, Yoann Maestri and Francesco Minto all picked up points for making a full appearance. Therefore Parling continues to lead the way as the pick of the locks, following his try and full appearance against Scotland last weekend.
The England second-row is out in the clear on 11 points while Maestri, Coombs, Gray and Minto are all on his trail with six points having managed to avoid being substituted so far in this year's championship.
England captain Chris Robshaw was man of the match in Dublin © PA Photos
The Italian back-row, perhaps surprisingly, feature heavily in the back-row points scorers this week. Alessandro Zanni was the only forward to score a try in round two of the championship after crossing against Scotland and Sergio Parisse's role in his team-mate's score gave the Italian captain a profitable assist. Although that may be of little consolation for the pair after they ended on the losing side at Murrayfield.
England captain Chris Robshaw enjoyed another fine day in his burgeoning international career as he led his side to victory in Dublin - England's first Six Nations win in Ireland for a decade. His extraordinary work-rate and composed leadership secured him the man-of-the-match award and with it an extra five points to go along with his two points for a full appearance. Parisse therefore leads the way with Robshaw and Zanni for close company.
England's Tom Wood, Wales' Toby Faletau, France's Thierry Dusautoir, Ireland's Jamie Heaslip and Scotland's Johnnie Beattie all picked up maximum appearance points for the second week running while James Haskell gained his first start of the tournament for England but duly dropped points for being sinbinned in Ireland. And Fantasy players will have noted that Wales skipper Sam Warburton looks unlikely to regain his starting spot against Italy.
Again no scrum-half crossed the white-wash this weekend and with Scotland's Greig Laidlaw, who kicked 14 points against Italy, listed as a fly-half, points were at a premium among the No.9s. Ireland's Conor Murray, though, did become the only scrum-half to play 80 minutes for the second successive weekend. England's Ben Youngs, Italy's Tobias Boates, Wales' Mike Phillips and France's Maxime Machenaud all picked up points for starting for their respective countries.
Youngs' two assists last week against Scotland ensure he heads the field on 11 points with team-mate Danny Care, who scored a try last week, still in second and Murray moving up to third in the overall scrum-half standings. With a two week break to the next set of matches, coaches have plenty of time to ponder changes. Youngs, Phillips and Murray look pretty secure in their starting places but could Philippe Saint-Andre be tempted to restore Morgan Parra's composure to France's starting XV? And will the Italians opt to start with the promise of young Edoardo Gori?
England's Owen Farrell enjoyed another impressive performance at fly-half, kicking four penalties in terrible conditions and under huge pressure. So assured was his performance, for a second week running Stuart Lancaster resisted the urge to tinker with his No.10 options and Toby Flood was left on the bench. Farrell is four points clear of Greig Laidlaw, who was the a big winner of the week by gaining 13 points, in the overall standings. The Scotland player enjoyed another good week - kicking 14 points against Italy and picking up the man-of-the-match award.
Jonathan Sexton's early withdraw against England due to a hamstring injury will have cost many players some crucial Fantasy points. The Ireland fly-half now finds himself behind France's Federic Michalak and Italy Luciano Orquera, who are third and fourth in the overall standings. Scotland's Ruaridh Jackson picked up six points this week with a full appearance and an assist against Italy. Meanwhile Ronan O'Gara got off the mark with his substitute appearance and two penalties against England.
Matt Scott rewarded his Fantasy Rugby backers with a try and a gain of eight points to take him into second in the overall charts for centres . As well as a great defensive effort, he was the only centre to score a try over the weekend with his team-mate Sean Lamont listed as an outside back in the game. Brad Barritt, Jonathan Davies, Brian O'Driscoll, Gordon D'Arcy, Tommaso Benvenuti, Mathieu Bastareaud and Gonzalo Canale all picked up three points for completing 80 minutes.
O'Driscoll still leads the way at the top of the overall standings for centres on 19 points but Scott is now on his heels with 11 points while England's Billy Twelvetrees and Wales' Jamie Roberts follow on nine and eight points. England's Manu Tuilagi picked up his first point of the championship with a second-half substitutes appearance and there could be more to come from the explosive centre. The same may not be able to be said of Maxime Mermoz who has been dropped from the France squad after starting their first two fixtures.
George North scored a terrific try at the Stade de France © PA Photos
Following their four-try victory over Italy, Scotland provide three of the top five points scorers among the outside backs. Stuart Hogg, Sean Lamont and Tim Visser all touched down for the Scots at Murrayfield. Visser and Lamont picked up eight points as they completed the full 80 minutes as well while Hogg grabbed seven for those who showed some faith in the previously wasteful Scottish backline.
After his first major slump in form at international level, George North roared back into form with a fantastic finishing for Wales at the Stade de France. North took his game-turning try superbly and confirmed he is still on track to be a force for the Lions in Australia this summer. That try and full appearance netted him eight points to put him into double figures overall. However it was his team-mate, the goalkicking Leigh Halfpenny, who again proved a fantasy rugby must. The Wales fullback picked up 12 points from Wales' victory over France after kicking three penalties and a conversion and claiming the man-of-the-match award. He leads the way overall with 23 points from Scotland's Sean Maitland, who scored six points this week with an assist and a full appearance against Italy, on 17 points and Hogg on 14 points.
And looking forward Simon Zebo's injury means he will play no further part in the championship but there could be a ready-made replacement in France's lethal finisher Vincent Clerc, who is back in their squad to face England in two weeks' time.
© ESPN EMEA Ltd
"Here is the line-up I believe will take to the field on Saturday, let the abuse commence." Tom Hamilton has a punt at the Lions' starting XV for the first Test in his latest Tour Diary
"Drafting former Lions heroes and rising stars into your side at short notice may make for great copy but it does not make for a great side." Graham Jenkins on the lesson from the Lions' first loss
"At full-time I could not see the field for people dancing in front of me." Tom Hamilton reflects on the Lions' defeat at the hands of the Brumbies in Canberra
To coincide with the Lions' tour of Australia, and in association with Dove Men+Care, we are asking you to vote for the greatest Lions moments of the professional era