This just in… the Total Flanker verdict on this weekend's Six Nations action:
Ireland - Joe Schmidt cast off the tactical shackles and the Irish cut loose - albeit against a poor Italian effort. I've said all championship that this is a decent Ireland team and I expect good things from them in the next few years.
Italy - really the less said the better. Conor O'Shea must be wondering what he's let himself in for.
France - in patches France are finally beginning to look the part and almost by accident they finished the game against Scotland with the mouth-watering centre partnership of Fickou and Fofana - England beware.
Scotland - a big step forward for the Scots who at one point looked as if they were going to let it slip away. Final match against Ireland should be a cracker.
Wales - sorry, I don't buy the narrative that they "didn't turn up" for the 1st half. Just like at Cardiff last year and, to a lesser extent, at Twickenham in the RWC, they were dominated by a very, very good England pack and made to play on the back foot - until England's intensity dropped late on. Last 10 minutes very bad for my heart, however.
England - much improved in terms of discipline and for 60-70 mins England's intensity was right on the money. The next step for this team is to work out how to be clinical when try-scoring opportunities are created. I also worry about George Ford's apparent fragile confidence.
Team of the week:
15. Hogg (Sco) 14 Watson (Eng). 13. Taylor (Sco) 12. Fickou (Fra) 11. North (Wal) 10. Sexton (Ire) 9. Murray (Ire) 1. McGrath (Ire) 2. Hartley (Eng) 3. Nel (Sco) 4. Itoje (Eng) 5. Kruis (Eng) 6. Robshaw (Eng) 7. Hardie (Sco) 8. Heaslip (Ire)