Jess Breach returns in style

We were treated to another Red Roses masterclass at Kingsholm, where England smashed Wales 58-5 in front of a record crowd. Ireland, meanwhile, will take a lot of confidence from their impressive 29-8 win over Italy and their hopes for a top-three finish are alive and kicking.

France kept the pressure on rivals England with a 28-8 away victory in Scotland, but it was a game of two halves after the hosts delivered a valiant second-half performance and eventually got on the scoreboard.

Here are my picks for the third round of the Women’s Six Nations:

15. Chloe Rollie (Scotland)

Rollie’s 69th minute try epitomized Scotland’s spirited second-half performance against a physical France side who stagnated after the break. It was no less than Scotland deserved after they enjoyed long spells in the French 22.

14. Jess Breach (England)

How great was it to see Breach back? The Harlequins flyer is playing in a position which is highly competitive within England’s team, but she took her opportunities when they came, crossing twice.

13. Eve Higgins (Ireland)

This one was a tough call between Higgins, who has really come into her own in this championship, and Emily Scarratt. Higgins has fastened her grip on that 13 jersey with her performances from Ella and scored an excellent try against Italy.

12. Stacey Flood (Ireland)

Flood’s kicking game was a real focal point of Ireland’s victory in Cork. She put boot to ball 17 times to gain her side vital field position and her partnership with Higgins has been getting stronger each week.

11. Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe (Ireland)

The sevens specialist was electric down the wing and proved such an evasive threat for Ireland. She was unlucky to have had a second try disallowed, but she’s such an exciting player to watch and unlike anything we’ve seen before in an Irish shirt.

10. Jessy Tremouliere (France)

Playing out of position from full-back, Tremouliere effortlessly slotted in at fly-half. She scored a try, nailed a couple of 50-22 kicks and her link-up play with Sansus was sublime. It will be fascinating to see where she plays against England in three weeks’ time.

9. Laure Sansus (France)

Arguably the most exciting scrum-half to watch right now in the women’s game. Sansus’ delicate dink over the top of Scotland’s defense before collecting her own chip for France’s opener was sensational. Her all-round understanding of the game is on another level.

1. Christine Belisle (Scotland)

This is slightly controversial because Belisle is a tighthead, but her carrying was brilliant. She was an absolute workhorse against the French and made good ground to set up Rollie late on.

2. Lark Davies (England)

Davies spearheaded the Red Roses’ driving maul which carved through Wales and her brace of tries were synonymous with England’s forward power. Italy’s Melissa Bettoni also deserves a shout out – she carried a whopping 84 metres, was her side’s top tackler with 25 and salvaged some pride for the Azzurre at the end.

3. Sarah Bern (England)

There’s no better tighthead in the women’s game right now than Bern. She is such a destructive force for England and her pace from her is in a different stratosphere to other tightheads. She got her try and received a thundering ovation when she was substituted.

4. Sam Monaghan (Ireland)

Ireland’s stand-out player against Italy, who were powerless to neutralize Monaghan’s ball-wrecking play. She was such a presence in the line-out and was so hard to stop. Her performance summed up Ireland’s winning mentality.

5. Abbie Ward (England)

One of England’s most consistent performers, Ward won the battle over a determined Welsh second row. She has shown real leadership of late and has played three lots of 80 already in this championship and put in the work behind the scenes to get England’s pack rocking.

6. Alex Matthews (England)

Matthews bumped off two Welsh players as if they were skittles for her try, which was the pick of England’s scores, but I also thought Scotland’s Rachel Malcolm had a sublime game.

7. Edel McMahon (Ireland)

McMahon stood tall in some big contact moments for Ireland and delivered a tackling masterclass against Italy, so she edges it over Marlie Packer and Wales’ Alisha Butchers, who were their usual dominant forces in the back row.

8. Sarah Hunter (England)

Hunter doesn’t always get a lot of acknowledgment, but she played a pivotal role in the Red Roses’ victory. She rounded off proceedings with a try of her own and kept English heads cool for the big occasion against a passionate Welsh outfit.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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