Team of the week: The best from Champions Cup round six combine
By Sky Sports Rugby
Last Updated: 22/01/18 1:25pm
The Champions Cup pool stages are over for another year and we now know who will take on who in the quarter-finals.
But which players impressed the most in round six with the pressure on and qualification at the stake?
Find out with our team of the week below...
15. Stuart Hogg (Glasgow Warriors)
Back with a bang! Hogg returned to action at the weekend and looked like he'd never been away despite being sidelined with a groin injury since November.
The full-back had a ball at Scotstoun and that was illustrated by his role in Glasgow's exceptional third try.
It was Hogg who started the move on his own 22 finding Tommy Seymour, before the winger combined with Finn Russell, who in turn sought out Hogg tracking on the outside.
Hogg's basketball-style pass, over the top of Olly Woodburn, ensured that the move continued and from there George Horne and Seymour finished off five of the best points that we'll see scored this season.
14. Nathan Earle (Saracens)
The young Saracens winger was off the replacements bench early as he was called on to replace the injured Chris Wyles after just 18 minutes, but settled brilliantly.
Earle made 102 metres with ball in hand, more than double anyone on the pitch, while his play to create Richard Wigglesworth's try was outstanding.
His strong carry paved the way for Alex Goode's first-half try, while he also showed quick hands as Sean Maitland went over in the second period.
13. Hadleigh Parkes (Scarlets)
The Scarlets knew victory against Toulon would see them make their first European Cup quarter-final in 11 years - and the first by any Welsh region in six years.
Parkes was a huge element in their performance in the tight victory, chipping in with 12 carries - the most of any Scarlet on the pitch - 10 tackles, three turnovers, two clean breaks, two offloads and one vital try.
The outside-centre so often seems to be in exactly the right place, at the right time.
12. Owen Watkin (Ospreys)
Ospreys went to the Stade Marcel-Michelin with a shot at a place in the knockout stage but could not navigate their way to success at one of Europe's most intimidating grounds.
The Welsh region had their chances, arguably the best of which came from Watkin approaching the hour mark.
The centre's powerful running took him to within inches of the line before Nick Abendanon made an incredible turnover.
In all Watkin beat 13 defenders, five more than any other player in round six, and if he is given the chance in the forthcoming Six Nations, he should continue to impress.
11. Keith Earls (Munster)
A man-of-the-match display by the winger at Thomond Park helped the Irish province book a place in the European Cup knockout stage for a record 17th time.
His power and pace delivered his try in the corner, while a mazy run from deep set up the try of the game for Simon Zebo.
Earls was a constant thorn in the side of Castres and with his unrelenting commitment to the cause, finished the game a little battered and bruised but ultimately delighted.
10. Owen Farrell (Saracens)
It was another commanding performance from the 26-year-old against Northampton as he finished the afternoon with 27 points.
When it came to putting themselves in the driving seat for qualification, Saracens knew what they had to do and they did it in some style.
Farrell shone from the tee, knocking them over left, right and centre and was just as influential around the park.
He beautifully orchestrated the third of Saracens' seven tries and commanded the game.
9. Maxime Machenaud (Racing 92)
In snowy conditions at Welford Road, Racing 92's playmaker led his team by example and played like a man on a mission.
Machenaud's kicking out of hand was instrumental in the challenging conditions and he held his nerve off the tee throughout.
With qualification to the knockout stage on the line, the scrum-half coolly nailed Racing's 76th-minute penalty and that ultimately proved to be decisive.
1. James Cronin (Munster)
When key man Dave Kilcoyne hobbled off after just 16 minutes against Castres, Munster fans would have worried. They need not have, however, as Cronin emerged from the bench to have a stormer.
The loosehead was hugely physical around the park and his arrival onto the soggy Thomond Park pitch immediately coincided with overwhelming scrum dominance for Munster. The 27-year-old was rewarded for his performance with a try from a rolling maul in the final minute.
Cronin has had rotten luck with injuries over the last few years, but more performances like this will surely have him back in the Ireland fold.
2. Ken Owens (Scarlets)
Scarlets skipper Owens led his troops magnificently in their vital win over Toulon at Parc y Scarlets.
Having shaken off an early knock, the hooker recovered to make a massive 20 tackles as the home side contained Toulon's powerful forward forays. He also recorded a 100 per cent success at the lineout from 10 throws.
An honourable mention for Leinster hooker Sean Cronin, who was man of the match in their impressive victory at Montpellier.
3. Ben Tameifuna (Racing 92)
Rugby really is a game for all shapes and sizes. Racing tighthead Tameifuna has often been left behind in games - particularly in the European Cup - due to his monstrous size, but in the snow of Welford Road he was superb.
The prop made 14 carries against Leicester, almost all of which yielded gainline success, in a game Racing had to win to progress, while he also earned a clear advantage over Tigers loosehead Greg Bateman at the scrum.
Leicester could not handle his power and having given his all for 77 minutes, Tameifuna deservedly took the man-of-the-match accolade after the most crucial of victories.
4. Tadhg Beirne (Scarlets)
While he may not have been as noticeable as he was against Bath the week before, Beirne was still one of the standout players on the pitch for the Scarlets against Toulon.
The Welsh region's pace, tempo and freedom to play is admirable and the dexterity and athleticism Beirne shows in the loose is exemplary.
The second-row forward did not shirk his duties at the set-piece either and also topped the turnover count with four.
5. James Gaskell (Wasps)
At the Ricoh Arena, Wasps did everything that they could to try and qualify, but they were left to rue their second-half disintegration against Harlequins last weekend.
In less than ideal conditions under foot, Dai Young's side controlled the match against Ulster with Gaskell leading from the front in the engine room.
Gaskell emptied the tank for 54 minutes, he was Wasps' go-to man in the lineout securing five and stealing one of Ulster's and carried 13 times.
6. Levani Botia (La Rochelle)
In their first season of Champions Cup rugby, La Rochelle booked themselves a place in the knockout stage and won a plenty of fans in the process.
The French outfit started the competition with three bonus-point victories in a row and whilst they were not quite as convincing as many thought that they would be in round six, Botia was sublime.
Botia plies his international trade for Fiji in the centres but is a phenomenon in La Rochelle's potent and experienced backrow.
From hard-hitting tackles to one-handed offloads and carries that cut Harlequins in two, the 28-year-old hit beast mode in the first minute and never ceased until the end.
7. Josh van der Flier (Leinster)
Leinster proved they are the form side in Europe at present by going away to a fully-loaded Montpellier side and making it six wins from six in the pool stages for 2017/18.
Their pack was once again superb, with openside van der Flier his usual energetic and industrious self, making 11 carries, eight tackles and beating one defender.
8. Sam Simmonds (Exeter Chiefs)
Despite the fact the result at Scotstoun did not go Exeter Chiefs' way, their No 8 had a standout day at the office, as the stats show.
Simmonds made 124 metres, the most of any forward in round six, and beat seven defenders.
He powered over for a much-needed try on 39 minutes and continued his work-rate throughout making 19 carries in total and adding three clean breaks for good measure.
With England's No 8 jersey looking a little light right now and the Six Nations edging ever closer, this type of performance could be music to Eddie Jones' ears.