Women's Six Nations team of the weekend: Holly Aitchison adds new dimension to Red Roses

England's fly-half Holly Aitchison in action against Scotland - AFP/PAUL ELLIS
England's fly-half Holly Aitchison in action against Scotland - AFP/PAUL ELLIS

England opened their Women’s Six Nations campaign in impressive style with a 10-try, 58-7 victory against Scotland in Newcastle. Wales also enjoyed a big win in their first match of the championship, beating Ireland 31-5 at Cardiff Arms Park, while France overcame Italy 22-12 in Parma.

Sarah Hunter bowed out in a perfect ending to her career, playing her final match in the same city that she first picked up a rugby ball, but England’s most-capped player does not make Telegraph Sport’s team of the weekend. Here is who did.

15. Chloe Rollie (Scotland)

Yes, she was caught out a couple of times defensively – as were many of the Scottish side – but she was a real livewire in attack and ensured the visitors had the better of the closing stages at Kingston Park, scoring their only try in the 74th minute.

14. Aura Muzzo (Italy)

The winger had limited opportunities but when she did get the ball she made the most of it. A major running threat for the Azzurre, her jinky style can leave defenders flailing. She broke more tackles than the rest of the Italy back line combined.

13. Emma Orr (Scotland)

A bright spark in a heavy defeat, 19-year-old Orr proved why she is being billed as a future great. She was inches short of scoring a try in the first half after hitting a brilliant line and she made her presence felt with uncompromising tackles in defence.

12. Gabrielle Vernier (France)

The centre has picked up where she left off at the World Cup. From breaking the Italy defensive line to stopping opponents doing the same to France, from scoring a try to winning a turnover, Vernier is a class act.

11. Claudia MacDonald (England)

The scrum-half continues to thrive on the wing. It was the second of her two tries that was most indicative of her skills: receiving the ball on halfway she was able to evade a handful of Scottish defenders with pace and footwork.

10. Holly Aitchison (England)

More regularly a centre, the Saracen made her first Test start in the No 10 shirt at Kingston Park and brought a new dimension to the Red Roses attack with her willingness to play flat and fast. Has great vision and is a brilliant distributor.

9. Keira Bevan (Wales)

Having been limited to a bench role for much of the World Cup, Bevan relished this start and brought plenty of tempo. She contributed 11 points, a try and three conversions, and her kicking in open play also came to the fore.

1. Gwenllian Pyrs (Wales)

At the heart of a dominant performance by the Welsh pack, who had the Irish scrum retreating in the first half in particular, and she also made a telling contribution in the loose, including two important turnovers.

2. Agathe Sochat (France)

In modern rugby it is rare to see a front-rower stay on the pitch for much beyond an hour. Sochat clocked up 77 minutes, helping to force Italy to concede six penalties at the scrum, and she was among France’s top tacklers too.

3. Sisilia Tuipulotu (Wales)

The Gloucester-Hartpury forward is still raw in her technique – this was her first international start at tighthead – but it was her raw power that Ireland could not cope with at scrum time. Topped off a monstrous player-of-the-match performance with a second-half try.

4. Audrey Forlani (France)

There was nothing flashy about the display produced by France’s new captain but she grafted hard for 80 minutes as her team saw off a dogged Italy and she was crucial to their set-piece dominance.

5. Poppy Cleall (England)

Moving between the second and back rows did not cause Cleall any problems; she was impressive wherever she was packing down. As well as hard carries, there were soft hands and she cut a great short line to score a try shortly after half-time.

6. Francesca Sgorbini (Italy)

It is rare that a flanker leads the way in terms of metres made (65) but the fact Sgorbini did just that in Parma illustrates her influence. Her rangey runs caught out France – and she made a solid impact in defence, too, with Italy's second-highest tackle count.

7. Marlie Packer (England)

Yet another all-action display from the Red Roses openside. She excelled on both sides of the ball, topping the charts for tackles (15) and carries (20), and with her marshalling of the maul she also scored a hat-trick of tries.

8. Sioned Harries (Wales)

Thrust into action earlier than expected when Gwen Crabb was forced off with an injury in the seventh minute, the back-row replacement proved she is worthy of a starting spot. Brought plenty of physicality to the breakdown and was effective at slowing down Irish ball.