Lions Lowdown: Ford shines in Scotland as Conway shows his class
The first two rounds of the Guinness Six Nations are in the books and there has certainly been no shortage of drama as France and Ireland sit top of the pile with unbeaten starts.
If you had never seen England play before, you probably would have said he was the captain
Andy Farrell was in particularly good spirits going into the first break weekend after his Ireland side overcame Wales in Dublin, scoring four tries in an impressive bonus-point triumph.
Meanwhile, England got back to winning ways in the other all-Home Nations battle as they edged out Scotland to reclaim the Calcutta Cup in Edinburgh in testing weather conditions.
Here’s the best of the reaction to the weekend’s Championship action from British and Irish Lions players.
DAWSON PRAISES FORD LEADERSHIP
England showed plenty of character as they bounced back from their opening round defeat to France to get the better of Scotland at BT Murrayfield on Saturday evening.
British & Irish Lions Maro Itoje, Mako Vunipola and Kyle Sinckler all delivered for Eddie Jones but it was the performance of George Ford that really had Matt Dawson purring in his column for BBC Sport.
“One thing England can take from the match is certain standout individual performances. Fly-half George Ford was excellent in those conditions,” said the three-time Lions tourist.
“If you had never seen England play before, you probably would have said he was the captain. That was really noticeable for me.
“George was getting England going forward and had a performance that he was enjoying. He was enjoying the up-and-unders, cross-field kicks and grubbers through.
“When Scotland applied pressure, you could see him grow a couple of inches in stature. Maybe that was giving him the confidence to get stuck into the forwards the way he did and give them the praise they deserved.”
O’DRISCOLL CELEBRATES CONWAY CLASS
Four-time Lions Brian O’Driscoll was delighted to see Ireland move up a couple of gears as they downed reigning Guinness Six Nations champions Wales in Dublin.
And while he was full of praise for the performance of the whole team, including another man-of-the-match display from CJ Stander, it was winger Andrew Conway who impressed most.
“I thought it was a very impressive physical performance from Ireland,” said O’Driscoll. “They dominated in the collision zone for large quarters, their maul defence was very good.
“The scrum was a massive improvement on last week so everything felt like it went up a couple of notches although there is still room to improve – but going in the right direction.
On Conway, O’Driscoll added: “I remember seeing this guy as a schoolboy in 2009 when he came and trained against Leinster in a Champions Cup final week and he ripped us apart.
“I thought if we can’t contain a schoolboy we’re in serious trouble at the weekend. He had to leave Leinster to reach his full potential but now we’re seeing it.
“He’s changed as a player. Before he had these wicked feet and was a real game breaker but now he’s become a very complete player and aerially he is very good, defensively super sound.”
TIPURIC AND JONES REMAIN POSITIVE
Despite the prospect of back-to-back Grand Slams being over for Wales, there were positives to take from their defeat to Ireland – most notably in the performances of two Lions.
Alun Wyn Jones and Justin Tipuric both put in huge shifts and while they were disappointed not to get the win, the latter remains confident the Championship title is still within reach.
“It’s a long tournament. We won’t win the Grand Slam, but we are still in with a chance of winning it. Anything can happen on the day,” said Tipuric, a Lions tourist in 2013 and 2017.
“We gave possession away and too many penalties. They took the territory, and that’s what they want. They are simple things (to fix) – speed of breakdown, passing and catching the ball.
“It’s a long tournament. Anything can happen from now until the end. We are still in it and have to learn from this game and get better and better.”