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Team of the week: Top performers from the European club scene combine

Guinness PRO14, RDS, Dublin 6/1/2018.Leinster vs Ulster.Leinster's Fergus McFadden scores a try.Mandatory Credit ..INPHO/Bryan Keane

The cream of the crop from around the European leagues combine in our XV this week, as we pick out the top performers from the PRO14, Top 14 and Aviva Premiership.

The Champions Cup and Challenge Cup kicks off again next week, so who has headed into European competition off the back of some good domestic form? Find out below...

15. Jordan Larmour (Leinster)

Is there no ceiling to this man's potential? Once again 20-year-old full-back Larmour dazzled this weekend as the men in Blue secured a third inter-provincial victory on the bounce.

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Player watch: Enjoy some of Jordan Larmour's best bits against Ulster

Billed as Larmour v Jacob Stockdale beforehand, the Leinsterman thoroughly outplayed Ulster's star winger at the RDS, pulling off a lethal step past him en-route to the first try of the match.

Larmour finished off another flowing move in the second half to touch down in the corner, ending the match with two tries. His feet are mesmeric and pace absolutely electric. The boy looks something special!

14. Fergus McFadden (Leinster)

On the right wing, we've plumped for Larmour's Leinster team-mate Fergus McFadden, who put in a marvellous display.

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Highlights of Leinster's crushing PRO14 derby win over Ulster

It was McFadden's incisive break which created the chance for Larmour's first try, while the 31-year-old crossed for two scores of his own.

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He stepped past Stockdale for his first and showed tremendous wheels for his second. Form like this will have him back in the Ireland fold for sure.

13. Mark Bennett (Edinburgh)

Richard Cockerill's Edinburgh returned to winning ways with aplomb at home to the Kings on Friday, and look a good bet to grab the seventh Champions Cup qualification spot at present.

Making his debut for the club after a 10-month cruciate ligament injury absence was centre Bennett and he earned the man-of-the-match award for his display.

The outside-centre made two clean breaks and 11 carries, which is good stuff, but also beat nine defenders, which is exceptional. Promising signs.

12. Ulupano Seuteni (Oyonnax)

Top 14 strugglers Oyonnax played out a tremendously entertaining 38-38 draw with then league leaders La Rochelle on Saturday, causing them to drop back to second.

The standout player on the park was Oyonnax inside-centre Seuteni, who La Rochelle could not get a handle on all day.

Oyonnax's Australian center Uj Seuteni passes the ball to his teammate during the French To
Image: Oyonnax centre Ulupano Seuteni proved a thorn in La Rochelle's side

The 24-year-old made 16 carries - nobody made more in the match - beat seven defenders and made three clean breaks.

He also threw in two offloads, forced one turnover and trucked the ball up for 72 metres.

11. Monty Ioane (Benetton)

On the left wing, Benetton's Ioane is fully deserving of a spot after his performance in the victory over the Cheetahs in Treviso.

Monty Ioane races away to score one of Benetton Rugby's four tries.
Image: Monty Ioane scored a great try and ran the Cheetahs ragged

The back scored a fabulous try at a crucial time to get the Italian side back into the game when 9-0 behind, and also made 105 metres in attack throughout the game.

Ioane also beat three defenders and made three clean breaks in an eye-catching performance.

10. Dan Biggar (Ospreys)

Outgoing Ospreys fly-half Biggar was at his silky best against the Cardiff Blues at the Liberty Stadium on Saturday, creating three tries directly with sumptuous kicks.

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A look back on Ospreys fly-half Dan Biggar's superbly creative display against Cardiff Blues

His piece of skill for Rhys Webb's first effort was sensational, cross-field kick which led to Webb's second lovely, and quick thinking for Justin Tipuric's bonus-point score not only clever but inch perfect.

A mention too for Bordeaux-Begles' 19-year-old playmaker Matthieu Jalibert, who registered 14 points in the victory over Lyon to hand Rory Teague a winning start as head coach.

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Highlights of Ospreys' thrilling 29-28 PRO14 derby victory over Cardiff Blues

9. Conor Murray (Munster)

With his side having lost all four inter-provincial derbies to date this season, Murray ensured Munster won their first at home to Connacht on Saturday.

GuinnessPRO14 rugby Thomond Park Limerick 6/1/2018.Munster vs Connacht.Munster...s Conor Murray.Mandatory Credit ..INPHc4/O/Billy Stickland
Image: Conor Murray was at his controlled best against Connacht at Thomond Park

The Ireland scrum-half appears to perform to such a high standard with ease and comfort; his composure is remarkable.

At Thomond Park he was a class apart, with his kicking game on point, defensive game as strong as ever and sniping game deadly.

He finished with two tries to his name in the bonus-point success. Is there a better nine from close range?

1. Ross Harrison (Sale)

Fresh from making a monumental 20 tackles in defeat at Gloucester last week, Sharks loosehead Harrison went one better in the victory over Quins on Saturday, making 21 tackles! That's from a prop!

SALFORD, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 23:  Ross Harrison of Sale Sharks during the Aviva Premiership match between Sale Sharks and Bath Rugby at AJ Bell Stadium on D
Image: Sale prop Ross Harrison's tackle stats have been off the charts in the last couple of weeks

The 25-year-old's work-rate belies the fact he is a frontrower, and at the AJ Bell over the weekend his bread and butter was in top form too as the Sale scrum ran at 100 per cent. What an effort.

2. Ken Owens (Scarlets)

Slightly controversial perhaps as a few lineout throws went astray, but so much of what Scarlets skipper Owens did in open play tore the Dragons apart on Friday night.

Guinness PRO14, Parc y Scarlets, Wales 5/1/2018.Scarlets vs Dragons.Scarlets... Ken Owens.Mandatory Credit ..INPHO/Ian Cook
Image: Scarlets captain Ken Owens was heavily involved as they came away with a comprehensive victory

Out of the Scarlets' seven tries, the hooker played a key role in three of them, while he was also part of a scrum which annihilated Bernard Jackman's charges on almost every opportunity.

Owens mauled strongly for James Davies' effort, broke the line and threw in a sumptuous offload to create Dan Jones' score, and turned the ball over on the ground before finding Rhys Patchell with a lovely delayed pass to start the move for Aaron Shingler's super try. He also threw eight perfect darts.

3. Andrew Porter (Leinster)

Despite beginning the game against Ulster as a replacement, Porter came on for Tadhg Furlong at half-time and resembled anything but a tighthead prop in the 40 minutes he was on.

Guinness PRO14, RDS, Dublin 6/1/2018.Leinster vs Ulster.Leinster's Andrew Porter celebrates after the game.Mandatory Credit ..INPHO/Tommy Dickson
Image: Andrew Porter came on and provided a monumental impact for Leinster

His pace and power were freakish, and his run for McFadden's second try was nothing short of incredible.

Porter was marked out as something special for the Ireland U20s at loosehead prop, and since converting to tighthead has taken a bit of time to find his feet. But my word, he seems to have arrived now if Saturday's display is anything to go on.

Sale Sharks tighthead prop WillGriff John made 23 tackles against Quins, missing none, which is just startling and would get him into our team alongside partner in crime Harrison any other week.

4. James Phillips (Bath)

Bath started off the Premiership weekend with a crushing 46-25 win over Worcester at Sixways, and lock Phillips was one of the standouts.

The 30-year-old blasted his way over the tryline to wrap up the bonus-point on the hour mark and that was after he picked up from beyond the Worcester 22 and saw off the challenges of four Warriors in some style, as team-mate Michael van Vuuren attests to in the Tweet below:

Phillips ended the match with stats of 10 tackles, nine carries, five defenders beaten, one line break and the try of his career!

5. Andrei Ostrikov (Sale Sharks)

Sale won a captivating clash with Harlequins by a single point at the AJ Bell on Saturday and versatile forward Ostrikov was superb in the second row.

Andrei Ostrikov in action for Sale against Leicester Tigers
Image: Andrei Ostrikov ran his heart out in victory over Harlequins

The Russian made a phenomenal 18 tackles in the victory and is developing into something of an unsung hero for the Sharks, having made an Aviva Premiership high 21 tackles last week.

His stamina in the engine room is unyielding.

6. Michael Rhodes (Saracens)

Are Saracens back? Well their performance at Wasps on Sunday would seem to suggest they are, and blindside Rhodes demonstrated yet again what a quality player he is in the 38-15 win.

LEICESTER, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 24:  Michael Rhodes of Saracens takes on Adam Thompstone during the Aviva Premiership match between Leicester Tigers and Sara
Image: Michael Rhodes displayed just how much Saracens missed him when he was out

They've endured a tough spell recently, but their return to form has coincided with the return of Rhodes, and on Sunday they welcomed back star duo Maro Itoje and Billy Vunipola as well.

Rhodes is a Rolls Royce performer and took the man of the match award at the Ricoh after a dominant display at the set-piece and in the loose. How was this man never capped by South Africa?

7. Conor Oliver (Munster)

Making his first appearance of the season against Connacht on Saturday following a serious shoulder injury in pre-season, Oliver was fantastic on the openside and deservedly took the man of the match award.

Image: Munster flanker Conor Oliver was fantastic in his first game of the season

The 22-year-old lasted the full 80 minutes on his return and was a bundle of energy in the comprehensive victory.

He made 16 tackles - the most of any Irish player over the weekend - and was instrumental in Munster's opening try, stepping in as halfback to recycle quick ball for Darren O'Shea's score.

8. Nick Williams (Cardiff Blues)

The only player in our XV to have been on the losing side this week, Williams was brilliant in defeat for the Cardiff Blues at the Ospreys.

Cardiff No 8 Nick Williams
Image: Cardiff No 8 Nick Williams dominated the breakdown in Swansea

The big No 8 was at his physical best all afternoon, crashing over for the first try of the match, but also excelled at the breakdown, winning four turnovers - the most of any PRO14 player this weekend.

A note too for Bath's Zach Mercer, who was really impressive in victory at Worcester on Friday.

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