Patrick Perry identifies the brightest stars of this weekend’s European Champions Cup rugby action.
During this European game week, which saw a youthful Leinster beat Bath, Racing Metro embarrass Scarlets, and Saracens overpower Ulster, we have been blessed with a number of great individual performances. Some shone brighter than others, however.
Here are my stars of the week.
Garry Ringrose and Ben Te’o.
To begin with I have to look no further than the Leinster centres.
The partnership between Ringrose and Te’o caused mayhem for a poor Bath side who simply couldn’t get near either member of the Leinster midfield. The mix of Ringrose’s mazy runs contrasting with the direct running of Te’o worked brilliantly and caused confusion in the Bath ranks.
Both these players have huge futures ahead of them.
Over at Allianz park, Owen Farrell laid his claim to the England fly half position.
Talk of the town is that Farrell will have to settle for inside centre against Scotland, but Jones might have to reconsider after his performance for Saracens against Ulster. His show and go to create the try for Duncan Taylor was quality and you could tell how much it meant to him. Despite the fact that for once his kicking was all over the place, Farrell is looking more and more assured with ball in hand.
The heart of the Ospreys team is Dan Biggar, and when he was seen limping off against Clermont Auvergne, tears must of been in the eyes of all the fans at the Liberty.
Junior player of the year Sam Davies was given the task of replacing him, however, and he did an excellent job. Davies’ kicking was accurate and he struck with confidence despite his inexperience at this level. Ospreys needed a hero and Sam Davies stepped up with 12 points to effectively take them though to the next round.
My next star is C.J Stander who played magnificently for Munster against Stade Francais.
His try came thanks to an intelligent tap and go from Conor Murray, but Stander showed great strength and determination, two attributes that epitomise him, to reach the try line. Calls for him to replace Jamie Heaslip have to be considered because he’s the form 8 in Ireland right now. He worked all game, showing tremendous energy and an endurance unrivalled by other number 8’s.
My final star of the week is Racing Metro’s outside centre Casey Laulala, who grabbed himself a hat-trick against a Scarlets team out of their depth.
Firstly he showed great awareness to capitalize on a Mike Phillips disguised pass to the blindside, then for his second act he ran across the pitch and deftly stepped past an already tired Scarlets fullback, and for his finale he finished off a try which was brilliantly worked out to him on the left wing.
Laulala’a speed and clinical finishing led his team into a home tie next round.