France lead Wales by points difference at the top of the Six Nations 2021 standings following another keenly contested weekend of action.

But, where were the matches won and lost? We run the numbers to find out…

Watson ignites England against Italy

Jonny May might have made headlines with his acrobatic finish against Italy at Twickenham, but it was his back-three partner Anthony Watson who really stole the show.

Watson made an astonishing 160 metres with ball in hand as he scored two of England’s six tries against Italy. To put that effort into context, May made 96m — as did Azzurri try-scorer Monty Ioane — while Watson’s closest challenger, Henry Slade, made 107m.

His first try came after some slick England handling and a wicked side-step that took the Bath winger past two Italian defenders. For his second score, Watson picked off a Paolo Garbisi pass and sprinted from the edge of his own 22 all the way to the opposition goal-line.

And Watson was not the only player who excelled for England. Stand-in hooker, Luke Cowan-Dickie seized an opportunity to impress with both hands, quite literally.

Cowan-Dickie made more carries than any other player (14), including a quick tap that led to England’s first try, scored by his Exeter team-mate, Jonny Hill.

It was clearly a busy afternoon for the teams’ hookers. Cowan-Dickie’s opposite number, Luca Big made the most successful tackles (16) in the match. Unsurprisingly, given the Azzurri made 153 tackles to England’s 89, the top three tacklers were all Italian.

Wales grateful to Rees-Zammit brilliance, Faletau resilience

For the second week in a row, a piece of magic from Louis Rees-Zammit, coupled with an early bath for Zander Fagerson, helped Wales to victory.

Looking at Rees-Zammit’s stats from Murrayfield, what is most impressive is his efficiency. The Gloucester winger completed only six carries during the 80 minutes in Edinburgh, yet he made 61 metres — the second-most by a Welshman — produced two tries and laid on another for Liam Williams. His second, which won the match, was a breathtaking piece of skill as he chipped the ball over Stuart Hogg and collected the bouncing ball to score.

Scotland captain Hogg was so nearly the match-winner himself. Having made 151 metres from 11 carries from full-back, Hogg’s second try had given Scotland’s 14 men the lead with less than 15 minutes remaining.

But, that Wales were able to get over the line owed as much to dogged defence as it did the silky skills of Rees-Zammit.

Taulupe Faletau put in an all-action performance at Murrayfield. As well as making 63 metres from 11 carries, the number eight put in a match-high 19 tackles. Justin Tipuric (16), Alun Wyn Jones, Ken Owens and Wyn Jones (14) all made more successful tackles than any Scottish player.

The grit with which the Welsh defence performed on Saturday can also be seen by the fact that five separate players made dominant tackles. Only one Scot, George Turner, did the same.

Alldritt and Stander put in the hard yards in Dublin

Looking at the stats, France’s win in Dublin on Sunday was something of an anomaly and possibly points to the way the two teams approached the match. Seven players made 90 metres or more in the weekend’s first two Six Nations matches, all of whom were backs.

Three players did the same at the Aviva Stadium in the third, but two were forwards. France number eight Grégory Alldritt made a mammoth 99 metres from 14 bruising carries, and not to be outdone, his opposite number CJ Stander made 93 metres from 19.

Ireland full-back Hugo Keenan was the only back to rival Alldritt and Stander, as he made 92m from 10 carries.

France were dominant for much of the first half in Dublin, and ultimately made sure of victory with a Damian Penaud try early in the second period. However, they also put in a huge shift in defence.

Charles Ollivon, who scored Les Bleus’ opening try, made 20 successful tackles during his 80 minutes on the pitch, while Bernard Le Roux and Paul Willemse each made 17 and Alldritt finished the match with 15. No Ireland player made more successful tackles than prop Cian Healy, whose 14 came in only 55 minutes of action.

The only dominant tackle of the match came from France flanker Anthony Jelonch.

READ MORE: Wales continue to climb World Rugby Men’s Rankings >>