Team of the week: Scotland star on Six Nations' opening weekend
By Tony Tighe
Last Updated: 06/02/17 3:26pm
Scotland and Wales have four players a piece in our team of the week as the Six Nations threw up some gripping contests on the opening weekend.
The Championship got off to a cracking start at Murrayfield where Scotland overcame a second-half rally from Ireland to claim their first opening-day win since 2006, while England ground out a 19-16 victory over France.
All three winners on the opening weekend were forced to come behind, with Wales trailing at half-time in Rome before finding their groove in the second half.
There is also a place for an U20 star in this week's XV as England opened with a crushing win over France in Exeter.
15. Stuart Hogg (Scotland)
The Six Nations is only one round old but already the Lions No 15 shirt looks like Hogg's to lose. The Glasgow full-back was outstanding against Ireland as he bagged two tries in 13 first-half minutes.
Hogg reacted brilliantly to pick up a dodgy pass for the early opener before burning Keith Earls for his second.
The 24-year-old made 104 metres from 12 carries, which included two line breaks, and he kicked intelligently from inside his own 22.
14. Sean Maitland (Scotland)
While Hogg excelled in attack, Maitland was brilliant in defence as Scotland withstood an Irish onslaught in the second half.
The 28-year-old made a great read to intercept Jamie Heaslip's offload after Finn Russell's kick was charged down, and he then sprinted back to make a brilliant try-saving tackle on Rob Kearney.
Maitland made a total of nine tackles, the same number as back three partners Hogg and Tommy Seymour combined, and also won a defensive turnover.
13. Jonathan Davies (Wales)
Davies has found himself out of the Scarlets team of late but showed signs of a return to form with an impressive showing in Rome.
The centre led the way for carries with 15, making two line breaks and beating five defenders. His second-half try put Wales on course for victory and he then produced a fine offload to Liam Williams for their second.
Davies also possesses a powerful boot and his booming kick downfield, which was knocked on by Edoardo Padovani, led to the spell of pressure that saw Andrea Lovotti sin-binned and Wales capitalise with two tries.
12. Owen Farrell (England)
Farrell kept the scoreboard ticking over while England laboured against France and was tenacious in defence, making seven tackles and winning two turnovers.
The England backline saw more possession in the second half and Farrell took a flat pass from George Ford to cut open the French defence.
Two minutes after moving to fly-half his delayed pass sent Ben Te'o for the crucial score.
11. Virimi Vakatawa (France)
The Sevens star set English pulses racing every time he got on the ball. Vakatawa made 121 metres from 18 carries and beat four defenders as France came close to ending England's winning run.
10. Max Malins (England U20s)
Last week we asked, who is Max Malins? We now have our answer. The Saracens youngster wreaked havoc as England cut loose against France.
Malins scored 24 points at Sandy Park, crossing for a try in either half and kicking seven conversions. Throw in three line breaks, seven defenders beaten and 70 metres gained from six carries - it was a fine afternoon's work from the 20-year-old.
9. Greig Laidlaw (Scotland)
The scrum-half displayed his experience and leadership late doors by kicking two penalties to clinch victory. In between those kicks he made the smart call of kicking a penalty to touch so Scotland could wind down the clock.
Laidlaw was 100 per cent from the tee as he kicked 12 points. He combined well with both Finn Russell and Duncan Weir and was a safe pair of hands, with just one of his 97 passes not finding a team-mate.
1. Jack McGrath (Ireland)
Ireland bossed Scotland at the scrum with McGrath forcing Zander Fagerson to concede two penalties. The Leinster loosehead made seven carries for marginal gains and nine tackles.
2. Ken Owens (Wales)
Wales were given a tough outing in the scrum against Italy and it wasn't until the front row replacements arrived that they achieved superiority, but Owens was faultless at the lineout and found a man in red with all 13 throws.
The hooker was combative in the loose, making seven carries and seven tackles.
3. Tadhg Furlong (Ireland)
One of few positives for Ireland from their first-half showing at Murrayfield was the scrum, where Furlong gave Allan Dell a rough afternoon on his Six Nations debut and won two early penalties.
The Wexford tighthead was also busy in the loose, making nine tackles and 12 carries, beating three defenders.
4. Jonny Gray (Scotland)
Another herculean performance from the Glasgow lock, who topped the charts for tackles and carries as Scotland started their Six Nations campaign in style.
Gray made 14 carries and a lung-busting 27 tackles and helped unsettle Ireland at the lineout. Uncharacteristically he missed two tackles, proving he is human after all.
5. Alun Wyn Jones (Wales)
The skipper's exceptional work rate was underlined at the start of the second half when he made three carries in quick succession as Wales set up camp in the Italian 22.
Jones made 14 carries in total, beating three defenders, while also making nine tackles as Wales overturned a half-time deficit.
6. Sam Warburton (Wales)
He may no longer be captain but Warburton led by example in Rome with an outstanding contribution in both attack and defence.
Warburton made seven tackles and produced a fantastic jackal on the stroke of half-time as Italy pushed for a second try. He carried 14 times for 35 metres and made an outstanding lineout steal on his own 22 midway through the second half.
7. Maxime Mbanda (Italy)
The openside has just four caps to his name but looks set to be a back-row regular for the Azzurri.
Mbanda produced a tireless 80-minute defensive display against Wales, making 26 tackles, twice as many as any of his team-mates.
8. Louis Picamoles (France)
The Northampton No 8 deservedly picked up the man of the match award after a rampaging display at Twickenham.
Picamoles was explosive with ball in hand as he made 121 metres from 18 carries, beating seven defenders and making two line breaks.
He also worked hard in defence, chipping in with nine tackles, and did not deserve to be on the losing side.