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Team of the week: Semi-final sensations and leaders of the pack

Gareth Steenson (C)  of Exeter Chiefs celebrates his side's second try
Image: Gareth Steenson's 14-point haul helped push Exeter Chiefs into their first Premiership Final

With two sides making their first ever domestic finals in the Guinness PRO12 and Aviva Premiership plus a whole host of Top 14 and Super Rugby matches, there was plenty of competition for team of the week.

15. Tiernan O'Halloran (Connacht)

O'Halloran continues to show his credentials at full-back with a strong all-around performance against Glasgow.

The 25-year-old made 10 carries, 69 metres and provided the solidity that Connacht needed to prevail in a 16-11 victory.

Elsewhere, Exeter Chiefs' Phil Dollman also deserves high praise after he solidified their defence in the face of Wasps' strong counter-attacking display.

14. Chris Ashton (Saracens)

At Allianz Park, Saracens showed no signs of having a European hangover as they emphatically marched into the Premiership Final. 

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Saracens' Chris Ashton scores their third try during the Aviva Premiership Semi Final at Allianz Park, London.
Image: Saracens' Chris Ashton added another two tries to his Premiership tally.

The winger finished a brace of tries and took his personal Premiership tally to 11 for the season but that's not been quite enough to book his place on England's tour of Australia.

13. Garry Ringrose (Leinster)

The 21-year-old is a special talent and in Leinster's semi-final we saw further proof of that as he shone throughout and took the occasion in his stride. 

.Leinster's Garry Ringrose
Image: Garry Ringrose continues his rapid development.

It was Ringrose's jinking run and deft hands that created Jamie Heaslip's 47th-minute try and the most exciting thing is that there is so much more to come from the young Irish centre.

12. Bundee Aki (Connacht)

The inside centre has been at the heart of Connacht's brilliant form all season and as expected he took their PRO12 semi-final by storm.

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Bundee Aki lead the Connacht celebrations after they secured a place in the PRO12 final.

Aki ran outstanding lines, was ferocious in defence and made 13 vital carries to drive Connacht forwards.

It was an enormous performance in itself before you consider the fact that he was on crutches on Tuesday after twisting his knee in training.

11. James O'Connor (Toulon)

In this weekend's Top 14, Toulon kept their pursuit of table-toppers Clermont on track with a dominant 52-13 victory over Agen.

O'Connor's contributions were significant as he made 87 metres, 12 carries and ran in a brace of tries in each half to help secure the result.

Elsewhere, Olly Woodburn stepped up again for Exeter Chiefs and Chris Wyles' finishes at Allianz Park were of the highest order.

10. Gareth Steenson (Exeter Chiefs)

At Sandy Park, Exeter Chiefs ventured into the unknown arena of the Premiership play-offs and benefitted greatly from the cool head of Steenson.

In challenging playing conditions the fly-half contributed 14 points and pulled all of the strings with ease to ensure that Exeter navigated the twists and turns of play-off rugby. 

A notable mention must also be made for Johnny Sexton who did exactly the same at The RDS and showed all of his International experience.

9. Morgan Parra (Clermont Auvergne)

Parra's 23 points - a try, three conversions and four penalties - went a very long way towards securing Clermont's 36-10 victory over Stade Francais.

The fact that the scrum-half was only on the field for 68 minutes makes his contribution, and performance, all the more impressive and Clermont continue to press on at the top of the Top 14 table.

1. Mihai Lazar (Castres)

Castres' 67-20 victory over La Rochelle was impressive and the platform set for their 10-try outing was delivered by the performance of Lazar.

The Romanian spent 62 minutes on the field and during that time overpowered his opponents, first Lekso Kaulashvili followed by replacement Saimone Taumoepeau. 

2. Codie Taylor (Crusaders)

When the elements are against you some sides cower, but the Crusaders did the opposite and delivered a 29-10 victory over the Waratahs. 

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Crusaders battled the elements and the Waratahs in Round 13 of Super Rugby.

Not only did Codie Taylor ensure 100 per cent accuracy at the lineout, he also showed deft hands in the loose and was the Crusaders' top tackler with 14. 

3. Petrus du Plessis (Saracens)

Saracens' scrummage has been the platform for their success all season and once again Du Plessis provided great solidity against Leicester.

The tighthead managed the experienced Marcos Ayerza with ease and gave his side the springboard they needed.

4. Maro Itoje (Saracens)

The European Player of the Year continues to drive the standards of performance in the second-row with another athletic and physical outing.

Maro Itoje of Saracens on the charge
Image: Saracens' Maro Itoje's development continues at a rate of knots.

In every situation the 21-year-old is making the right decisions, Saracens didn't lose a single lineout during the match and his progression is accelerating with every minute played. 

5. Alastair Muldowney (Connacht)

This weekend, Connacht may have been heading into uncharted waters but they handled the occasion with ease. 

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Connacht progressed into their first Guinness PRO12 final with a 16-11 victory over Glasgow

Muldowney, alongside John Muldoon, set the tone for their side in terms of how to handle such an occasion. Not only did he provide solid leadership but he also secured almost half of all of their lineout ball during the match. 

6. Pieter Labuschagne (Bulls)

When the Bulls and the Stormers meet it's always a physical encounter and Saturday's clash in Pretoria wasn't any different.

At the heart of the Bulls' output was Labuschagne, who made a staggering 25 tackles and missed just one.

The result pushes the side to second in the South African conference and sets the benchmark for blindside flankers everywhere!

7. Will Fraser (Saracens)

Following on from a sterling Champions Cup final Fraser was Saracens' top tackler on Saturday afternoon with 15 and added a try and two turnovers to his tally.

Will Fraser of Saracens celebrates scoring a try during the Aviva Premiership semi final match between Saracens and Leicester Tigers at Allianz Park
Image: Will Fraser continues his strong run of form following a series of injury setbacks.

Of course his yellow card was a small blip on his radar but the openside looks like he's rocketing back to his very best form after a difficult time with injuries. 

8. Jamie Heaslip (Leinster)

At the RDS, Heaslip played with his heart on his sleeve and drove Leinster to semi-final victory.

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Highlights from the PRO12 semi-final between Leinster and Ulster.

Heaslip's carries pushed Leinster forwards, he had plenty of work to do to finish his try and made 17 tackles.

It was a timely reminder of how important the No 8 can be when it comes to the big games and he'll be essential when it comes to the final at Murrayfield. 

Watch Connacht v Leinster live on Sky Sports 3 HD on Saturday from 5.00pm. Catch the match for £6.99 with a NOW TV day pass.

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