Team of the week: Three Ulstermen and two rising stars
Last Updated: 11/01/16 1:53pm
Three men from Ulster, an experienced midfield duo and two young loose forwards feature in our team of the week.
15. Mike Brown (Harlequins)
Saracens looked an unstoppable force for the opening rounds of the season in both competitions, but Quins ended that with a 29-23 win at the Stoop on Saturday.
Mike Brown stepped up for his team, carrying the ball more than any other Harlequin (14) and making 77 metres in the process. The England full-back also beat six defenders with ball in hand.
14. Dave Kearney (Leinster)
The 26-year-old scored two tries for Leinster in their 22-9 win over the Ospreys. A timely reminder to Joe Schmidt and the rest of the Irish coaching staff of his worth.
In his first try he still had two defenders to beat after taking a cross-kick at full pace, and in his second he timed his run with a great angle to cut through the defence.
13. Regan King (Scarlets)
At 36, King may have lost a bit of pace but his rugby brain remains as quick as ever. The Kiwi produced a masterclass in accurate passing to send Steff Evans and Michael Collins over for their tries.
Scarlets were in full force as they saw out a 21-19 win over Connacht, and the way King marshalled the backline had plenty to do with it.
12. Matt Smith (Leicester)
On Monday it was announced that the midfielder has signed a contract extension with Tigers which will delight the Welford Road faithful. Smith has made 178 appearances for Leicester and proved in a 30-27 derby win over Northampton that he's still bringing plenty to the Tigers attack.
The centre took a lovely pass to score his try and tackled well all afternoon.
11. Taqele Naiyaravoro (Glasgow)
Broke tackles all afternoon. It was a tough game for the winger as he didn't see much ball but when he was on the run Racing 92 struggled to keep up with him.
It was a heavy loss for Glasgow as they went down 34-10 to Racing 92, but Naiyaravoro shone in defeat.
10. Paddy Jackson (Ulster)
With Ireland's European hopes resting firmly on Ulster, things didn't look good at 23-0 down at half-time. Jackson was introduced to the game and the Ulstermen turned it round for an incredible 24-23 win.
Jackson kicked the winning penalty with two minutes remaining, but also slotted each conversion which kept Ulster creeping closer. A performance that showed the importance of a clinical fly-half.
9. Ruan Pienaar (Ulster)
Chris Cook deserves a mention for the way he played at Toulon, but if Jackson kept Ulster in the game, it was Pienaar who created the momentum to keep them scoring.
Ulster's second try came from Pienaar's decision to take a quick tap from a kickable penalty and the third from a high tempo created by the scrum-half that led to a stretched defence. Certainly not the only reason that Ulster fought back for the win, but a big part of it.
1. Kyle McCall (Ulster)
The loosehead carried well, and scored Ulster's third try on the back of good support in keeping up with quick ball.
Ulster's scrum got dominated in the first half but came right and turned the tables in the last scrum of the game to get one against the head which sealed the victory.
2. Jeremie Maurouard (Oyonnax)
Maurouard scored a try and had a great break during the game. The hooker also combined well with George Robson in the lineout and was a handful in the scrum.
Special mention to Dimitri Szarzewski who also scored a try and led Racing 92's forward pack superbly against Glasgow.
3. Paul Hill (Northampton)
Another Northampton prop catching the eye. Saints have benefitted from depth in the front row and it almost paid off in a derby win.
Hill looked very good around the loose and also scrummaged well. A solid shift from the tighthead.
4. Stuart Hooper (Bath)
Returned from injury and put in a real skipper's performance in a 12-9 loss to Toulon. It was a real battle in France and the front five were put through their paces for all 80 minutes.
A nod to James Horwill who scored Quins' winning try and was effective all afternoon despite earning a yellow card early in the victory over Saracens.
5. Leone Nakarawa (Glasgow)
In a game where the tight forwards were often on the back foot, Nakarawa was not about to abandon his work in the loose.
An active presence with ball in hand as always, and scored a try from a clever lineout move too.
6. Sekou Macalou (Stade Francais)
Is this the new French sensation? The 20-year-old showed some lovely skill to score a try against Munster in what ended up being a 27-7 win for the Paris side.
There was plenty of power, a side-step a back would be proud of, and a strong workrate around the field all evening. Certainly one to watch for the future.
7. Sam Underhill (Ospreys)
Ospreys may have lost to Leinster but Underhill was exceptional against and outplayed the great Sean O'Brien.
Another young talent, the 19-year-old really made his mark on the game which was going Leinster's way for the majority of it.
8. Lachlan McCaffrey (Leicester)
A hard-fought position for our team of the week. CJ Stander was a shining light in a poor Munster performance, while Chris Masoe won man of the match in Racing's comfortable win.
Sergio Parisse led with intensity for Stade Francais, keeping them ticking despite losing a man late in the first half.
But the Midlands derby is often won by a set of forwards, and McCaffrey was simply brilliant for the Tigers.