All 12 Gallagher Premiership Rugby clubs launched their assault on Europe over the last few days in the first of two weekends of Champions Cup and Challenge Cup action.
Gloucester Rugby, Saracens and Newcastle Falcons took many of the headlines with their wins in the Champions Cup, while Worcester Warriors grabbed a famous win by beating Stade Francais in their own back yard in the Challenge Cup.
There were also Challenge Cup wins for Harlequins, Sale Sharks and Bristol Bears, while Exeter Chiefs and Munster battered away at each other in a 10-10 draw at Sandy Park.
For anyone who missed the action, here’s our round-up of a few of the players who stood out over the weekend.
Player of the Week – Danny Cipriani
Danny Cipriani is no stranger to scintillating attacking rugby in good conditions but on Sunday the playmaker gave a strong display of his skill in the wind and the rain.
With England head coach Eddie Jones looking on, Cipriani played a big part in Callum Braley’s try in the 19-14 win over Castres, bewildering the French defence in the build-up.
The fly-half, Gallagher Premiership Rugby Player of the Month in September, also kicked 14 points and was an assured presence all afternoon in poor conditions at Kingsholm.
Gloucester return to European rugby’s top table with a win 👊
French champions Castres have been bested….
Skill of the Week – Phil Dollman tackle
Exeter’s game against Munster was an all-out arm-wrestle as the clubs played each other for the first time in low-scoring encounter dominated by defence.
The first half was a scrappy affair but in the second 40 Munster piled on the pressure, with Exeter somehow repelling attack after attack.
The breakthrough almost came in the third quarter but full-back Phil Dollman had other ideas, producing a fantastic tackle to stop Mike Haley offloading for a likely try.
Young Player of the Week – Johnny Williams
Newcastle Falcons have had a difficult start to the 2018-19 Gallagher Premiership Rugby season but one player who has stood out so far has been centre Johnny Williams.
Signed from London Irish over the summer, the 21-year-old enhanced his reputation in the Champions Cup this weekend in the 26-25 victory over French giants Toulon.
Williams didn’t get on the scoresheet but put in an influential performance, carrying 13 times for 42 metres and beating two defenders.
The robust youngster also made seven tackles and was an effective link-man in several Falcons attacks.
– Bottom of the Gallagher Premiership
– 5⃣ defeats from 6⃣ games
Another potential England centre for next year’s Rugby World Cup is Exeter Chiefs man Henry Slade, who is possibly enjoying his best start to a season ever.
The 25-year-old is the current holder of the England 13 shirt and did damage from there against Munster, making 12 passes and 13 carries for 67 metres, with three clean breaks.
Perhaps Slade’s biggest rival for the 13 shirt is Saracens man Alex Lozowski, who wasn’t as evident in attack for Saracens in the win over Glasgow Warriors but did make 13 telling tackles in a bruising encounter.
A word on Wales and their back-row competition also. Wasps were well-beaten by Leinster on Friday but Thomas Young – making his first start of the season – gave a terrific performance and prevented further damage with six eye-catching turnovers.