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British & Irish Lions — Team of the Week

5:35 PM GMT

The Six Nations returned with a bang over the weekend as an opening round low on try-scoring bonus points but high in excitement was played out. Scotland kicked off the championship in style with a win over Ireland before England were made to dig deep to beat France and Wales scored 30 unanswered second-half points in victory over Italy.

Amidst it all were several standout performances from players hoping to force their way onto the summer’s British & Irish Lions tour. But who did enough to put themselves in contention for a place on the plane to New Zealand?

BACKS

15. Stuart Hogg (Scotland)

Hogg set the tone for Vern Cotter’s side as his two early tries set the dark blues on the path to victory against Ireland. The Scotland fullback made 104 metres with ball in hand as he was deservedly named man of the match.

14. George North (Wales)

Scored a delightful try as he displayed his blistering pace to leave Italian defenders in his wake, before stepping inside Luke McLean to race under the posts. Moments earlier he had pulled in some discomfort, and Wales fans will hope he hasn’t picked up a serious injury.

13. Robbie Henshaw (Ireland)

Put in an impressive shift in both attack and defence against Scotland, and unfortunate to end on the losing side. Highlighted his threat with ball in hand as he beat six defenders.

12. Scott Williams (Wales)

At the heart of a much-improved second half performance from Wales in Rome, and played an integral role in his side’s first two tries. Showed exactly why Rob Howley has plumped for his distribution skills alongside Jonathan Davies in the Welsh midfield.

11. Elliot Daly (England)

Produced a vital long-range kick from the tee and almost added to that with his first Six Nations try. His pace is a useful weapon to have, and having made 46 metres with ball in hand, the switch out wide could become a little more permanent.

10. Owen Farrell (England)

Started in the centre at Twickenham, but his cool head helped drag a disappointing England to victory. Led by example on the pitch and put his team in the positions they needed to be to keep their winning run going.

9. Greig Laidlaw (Scotland)

Sank two late, nerveless penalties at Murrayfield when it looked as though Ireland had wrested control of the contest. Linked well with both Finn Russell and Duncan Weir as Scotland put a dent in their opponents’ championship hopes.

Stuart Hogg scored two tries as Scotland beat Ireland at Murrayfield. Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

1. Rob Evans (Wales)

Wales’ win in Rome was built in part on their ability to gain parity, and ultimately the upper hand, in the scrum. Their play in that area improved immensely after Evans and Tomas Francis came on early in the second half.

2. Rory Best (Ireland)

Another big shift from the Ireland captain as he connected with all but two of his 14 lineout throws. Also put in a lot of work defensively, making 17 tackles.

3. Tadhg Furlong (Ireland)

Part of a good team scrummaging performance and also a threat in the loose. Got through a lot of work with ball in hand, making 12 carries in all at Murrayfield.

4. Jonny Gray (Scotland)

Got through an amazing amount of work in defence, making 27 tackles, his combination with his brother continues to get better and better on the international stage.

5. Richie Gray (Scotland)

Rivalled his brother for work in defence, making just four fewer tackles. Also made himself a nuisance in the lineout, stealing one of Ireland’s throws.

6. Maro Itoje (England)

Highlighted his value to the England pack as he excelled in two separate positions against France. Started at blindside but moved into the second row as the hosts reeled in their visitors.

7. Sam Warburton (Wales)

It was a toss up between Warburton and his teammate Justin Tipuric for the other back row berth this week. Put questions around his place in the Wales pack to one side as he was back to his destructive best at the breakdown.

8. Josh Strauss (Scotland)

Asserted himself against the star-studded Irish back row. Got through a huge amount of work in defence, making 16 tackles and played a key role in Scotland’s opening try as his carry towards the line helped create the space out wide for Hogg.

Source Article from http://www.espn.co.uk/rugby/story/_/id/18624632/british-irish-lions-team-week

British & Irish Lions — Team of the Week

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