Planet Rugby

Six Nations: Team of Round 4

13th March 2012 11:32

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Ben Morgan

Ben Morgan: Owned the Paris pitch

Now that the dust has settled across Europe, Planet Rugby thought it was only right to hand out some praise to the stars of Six Nations, Round 4.

England's win over France in Paris on Sunday was the highlight of the fourth round. The visitors outscored the French by three tries to one as they became the first team to win at the Stade de France in the Six Nations since their compatriots prevailed in 2008.

On Saturday, Ireland extended Scotland's winless streak with a 32-14 victory in Dublin. Defeat for Scotland was their sixth in a row and left them facing yet another wooden spoon decider away to fellow strugglers Italy in Rome next weekend, after the Azzurri went down 24-3 to Wales.

So which players stood head and shoulders above the rest?

15 Ben Foden (England): Exorcised the ghost of last year's World Cup defeat to France with a world-class performance in the number 15 jersey for England. Foden also returned to try-scoring form after rounding off Ben Morgan's storming run.

14 Alex Cuthbert (Wales): A strong-running display against the Italians that deservedly reaped the reward of a late try for Wales. Picked up the man of the match award that was the icing on the cake for the Cardiff Blues speedster.

13 Manu Tuilagi (England): Plenty of power and a turn of pace made him a constant threat at the Stade de France, with his opening try setting the tone for the rest of the match. Arguably one of his most impressive afternoons in an England jersey.

12 Wesley Fofana (France): The pick of France's backs. What a dream Six Nations debut the Clemont star is having... four tries from four outings for the French - enough said.

11 Chris Ashton (England): We were pretty stumped on this one. Ashton gets the nod after relatively quite performances from everyone else in the left wing position. Always in the thick of it, Ashton's tackle on half-way did set up Tuilagi's try which ultimately was a game-changing moment for England.

10 Owen Farrell (England): Another authoritative display from England's young gun on Sunday, typified by some excellent place-kicking. At 20 years old, Owen Farrell has already drawn comparisons with Jonny Wilkinson, and if the prodigiously talented fly-half continues to produce his best form in an England shirt, he could be the man to ensure Stuart Lancaster gets the job.

9 Mike Phillips (Wales): A workaholic display by the Wales scrum-half, who was relentless behind his forwards' heels to set up numerous attacks. Worthy mentions for England's Lee Dickson and Eoin Reddan of Ireland, who are both a tad unlucky to be missing out following top notch outings for their respective teams.

8 Ben Morgan (England): A titanic performance against France by the Gloucester-bound number eight, who roamed the Paris pitch at times as if he owned it. It was a tough call between Morgan and opposite number Imanol Harinordoquy, who played at full throttle from start to finish for Les Bleus.

7 Peter O'Mahony (Ireland): With Sean O'Brien set for a return to Ireland's line-up this weekend, O'Mahony can count himself desperately unlucky if he misses out on a starting spot at Twickenham. The 22-year-old marked his full debut with a purposeful showing, proving he's one to watch for the future.

6 Tom Croft (England): Arguably his best outing at international level since his starring role for the 2009 British and Irish Lions, Croft beats off stiff competition from Ireland's Stephen Ferris and Wales flank Dan Lydiate. Croft scored the decisive try in the closing stages against France to cap the kind of commanding all-round display he has been striving for with England for three years.

5 Donnacha Ryan (Ireland): A man-of-the-match display from Ireland's tall timber after being given the ardous task of filling in for the injured Paul O'Connell. However, he didn't disappoint. Ryan put in a tireless performance - dominating the line-out by winning Ireland clean ball and disrupting the Scots' set-piece. He was everywhere...

4 Richie Gray (Scotland): Scotland may have produced their poorest performance of the tournament in Dublin, but Gray was able to leave the field with his head held high. Without a doubt Scotland's most dangerous attacking player, Gray was rewarded with a try for his efforts. If he wasn't before, the second-rower must now be a certain Lion in 2013.

3 Dan Cole (England): Replaced at half-time when England last visited Paris, but he was a tower of strength this time around in the set-pieces and open play. Also made a telling contribution in defence, with one tackle saving a potential try.

2 Rory Best (Ireland): Wearing the skipper arm band in O'Connell's absence, Best acquitted himself well in the emphatic Irish victory over Scotland. Ireland's stand-in captain courageous led from the front, and helped lay the foundation of the home side's win with his spectacular try early on.

1 Gethin Jenkins (Wales): Another player handed the captaincy reigns with regular leader Sam Warburton sidelined with injury. Was a rock at scrum-time against the Azzurri, and a constant menace in the loose.

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