Team of the week: Scottish stalwarts, a Welsh youngster and stars of Top 14 and Super Rugby
Last Updated: 14/03/16 4:50pm
A Wales U20 player joins Scottish stalwarts and the stars of the Top 14 and Super Rugby in our team of the week...
15. Stuart Hogg (Scotland)
The game between France and Scotland was not quite decided when a break upfield put the Scots within scoring range. What came next was an impressive pass from scrum-half Greig Laidlaw down the touchline, but then an even better touch from Hogg made sure Tim Visser scored the winning try as Vern Cotter's men closed out the game 29-18.
It was a sublime game in attack from the full-back, though his defence was at times questionable. But as Stuart Barnes pointed out in this week's column: "The balance of attacking pluses can outweigh the odd defensive negative as Hogg gloriously emphasised."
14. Akihito Yamada (Sunwolves)
The Sunwolves came so close to recording their first ever win in Super Rugby when they faced the Cheetahs in Singapore. The newcomers were 31-13 up at the beginning of the second half but ultimately fell 32-31 to the South African side.
The Japanese team can still draw positives from the loss, and in particular the performance of Yamada. The winger made 84 metres at an average of 14 metres per carry, and scored a hat-trick to put his side in a strong position. It will be a long season as they find their feet in Super Rugby, but there is plenty to suggest the Sunwolves will trouble some of the bigger teams in 2016.
13. Duncan Taylor (Scotland)
The Saracens man is proving himself to be a brilliant addition to the Scottish midfield. The 26-year-old made the most carries out of Scotland's backs, beating three defenders in the process.
Also, his individual try showed good awareness as well as the confidence to back his instincts rather than opt for the safer option of a lineout. A good all-round game from Taylor, and his likely battle with Jared Payne of Ireland next week will be interesting.
12. Sam Hill (Exeter Chiefs)
Exeter showcased their credentials in a 32-17 win over the Falcons that temporarily put them top of the Premiership table. There were offloads aplenty as they ran the Newcastle side off their feet in a bonus-point win.
Hill offered four offloads in his 18 carries, and also turned the ball over twice. It's the kind of contribution that will keep the Chiefs pushing for honours in this season's domestic competition with the play-offs edging their way into the thoughts of each team.
11. David Smith (Castres)
Smith crossed the whitewash four times in Castres' 50-6 win over Agen, but he provided more than just five-pointers to his side. He carried the ball 16 times for a mammoth 183 metres, at an average gain of over 11 metres per carry.
The winger's performances are a reminder that France are missing out on a lethal attacker. Smith was dropped from Les Bleus squad ahead of their Six Nations match against Wales last month due to the fact that he had previously represented New Zealand in Sevens.
10. Jean Pascal Barraque (La Rochelle)
Just the 25 points from the fly-half as he crossed for two tries and slotted three penalties to go with three conversions.
Barraque only missed one shot at goal as he led his side to a 35-16 win over Pau. The victory keeps La Rochelle within touching distance of the play-offs.
9. Greig Laidlaw (Scotland)
There was a lot of pressure building on Scotland earlier in the Six Nations as they failed to register a win in their opening three games.
"There's nobody that feels a Scotland loss more than me," said Laidlaw ahead of Scotland's victory over Italy in the fourth round. "I take it tough, I probably don't speak to people for a couple of days."
Laidlaw's reaction at the final whistle on Sunday showed that there's also nobody who celebrates a Scotland win more than he does. The Gloucester No 9 was vocal in attack during the game and energetic in his delivery to Scotland's backs. It was a captain's performance from one of the most loyal to wear the jersey, in his 50th appearance for Scotland.
1. Jack McGrath (Ireland)
One of the great performances from a prop in the loose as Jack McGrath carried the ball 15 times, all while taking care of his set-piece duties against a strong Italian front row.
McGrath's unrelenting ball-carrying was capped off with Ireland's second try of the afternoon as Joe Schmidt's men ran rampant in Dublin, scoring nine tries in a 58-15 win.
2. Guilhem Guirado (France)
Six tackles, seven carries, one try scored, an offload and a defender beaten. The French skipper could hardly have offered more in the loose as his side were well and truly beaten by the Scots.
The hooker threw the ball into the lineout 14 times, and was successful with 13 of the attempts. It's been a tough Six Nations for France, but not for their captain, who has been a presence throughout.
3. WP Nel (Scotland)
WP Nel was another of the front row club members to have a good day with ball in hand. The South African-born international carried seven times and beat four defenders, and more than stood up to the challenge of the French pack in the scrum.
Scotland's game is built around the basics, but Nel provided more than that on Sunday as Scotland now turn their attention to a showdown with Ireland.
4. Mamuka Gorgodze (Toulon)
The colossal Georgian loose forward was brilliant in the second row for Toulon's 38-8 win over Grenoble that keeps them in the top four as the season winds down.
Nobody put in more tackles than Gorgodze, as he stopped 12 attackers in their tracks, winning three turnovers as he did so. He also carried the ball five times to beat two defenders, and took the most lineout throws for Toulon, with four.
5. Maro Itoje (England)
Itoje was ever-present in England's 25-21 win over Wales on Saturday. Following another barnstorming game from one of the rising stars of European rugby, England coach Eddie Jones admitted he's having a tough time easing the 21-year-old into the Test arena.
"I've been trying to look after him, I've (limited) his exposure to the media but I've got to let him go now," Jones said.
Itoje's 14 tackles - the most of any English player on the day - show that he's prepared to lead the defensive effort, but his influence when the game opened up was equally plain to see. England and Saracens need to decide if his future is in the second row or the back row, and allow him to hone his promising skills.
6. Chris Robshaw (England)
There may be calls for Itoje to be given a chance at No 6, but that jersey is currently occupied by Robshaw, who was singled out for particular praise from Eddie Jones following England's win over Wales. After a difficult World Cup, on the back of which he was relieved of the captaincy, Robshaw has come back into the England fold with renewed energy.
The Harlequins flanker has been a thorn in the side of every team England has played so far, and played his part in keeping Wales scoreless for such a large portion of the game on Saturday. A welcome return to form for Robshaw.
7. Steffon Armitage (Toulon)
It seems the former England flanker is still standing out in the south of France. Twelve carries - the second-most from a Toulon player - in which he managed three offloads to keep the ball alive.
Without the ball he was second only to Gorgodze with 10 hits on opposition players, while forcing four turnovers.
8. Harri Keddie (Wales U20)
Keddie played his part in a 42-16 win for Wales U20 over their English counterparts. The No 8 topped the individual carries for his team with 12 runs with ball in hand, beating four defenders in the process.
The Welsh youngster also scored a try and his performance shows the future of Welsh rugby looks very bright considering the likes of Sam Warburton and Taulupe Faletau are already among the world's best.