Team of the week: Three hat-trick-scoring forwards and a four-try wing
Ollie Thorley equals Premiership record with four first-half tries while Jonny Hill, Sam Simmonds and Tom Woolstencroft all score hat-tricks
Last Updated: 01/09/20 12:01pm
There are three hat-trick-scoring forwards and a four-try hero on the wing in our team of the week after a busy seven days of action.
There were a number of standout performers as the squad depth of Premiership clubs was tested by midweek fixtures, while the PRO14 and Super Rugby AU reached the business end of their respective seasons.
15. Luke James (Sale Sharks)
James scored a try at the beginning of each half as Sale battered Bristol to boost their hopes of securing a home semi-final.
The 21-year-old opened the scoring when he went over from Daniel Du Preez's neat pass and crossed again on 50 minutes as the Sharks bared their teeth in attack.
James edges out Mike Brown, who rolled back with an impressive display for Harlequins against Northampton, and Brumbies full-back Tom Banks.
14. Ollie Thorley (Gloucester)
Thorley became only the third player to score four first-half tries in a Premiership game as Gloucester beat Leicester at Kingsholm.
The 23-year-old England hopeful completed a quartet of scores in just 21 minutes as Gloucester ended a run of three successive home league defeats.
Thorley's feat matched four-try efforts by former Bath wing Tom Voyce in 2001 and ex-Wasps speedster Christian Wade four years ago.
13. Jonathan Joseph (Bath)
Joe Marchant impressed for Quins but Joseph takes the No 13 shirt this week.
The England centre outshone his opposite number, All Black Malakai Fekitoa, and produced some dazzling footwork to slip out of tackles.
Joseph beat five defenders and combined well in midfield with Josh Matavesi but could only watch on as the Wasps pack snatched victory at the death.
12. Matt Toomua (Rebels)
The Rebels have their skipper to thank for keeping their play-off hopes alive with a 17-point performance against the Waratahs.
The former Leicester Tiger scored one try, brilliantly set up Marika Koroibete for another, and his 12 points from the boot included a late penalty to clinch a losing bonus point.
11. Tom Wright (Brumbies)
Wright racked up 101 metres from 14 carries as the Brumbies secured a home Super Rugby AU final with victory over Western Force.
The 23-year-old took Will Miller's pass to score the Brumbies' first try after a bouncing ball caught the Force napping.
Wright was electric in attack, making one line break, beating four defenders and throwing three offloads.
10. Manu Vunipola (Saracens)
The 20-year-old produced two assured performances in the space of six days as Saracens registered big wins over Gloucester and London Irish.
The talented fly-half is likely to get plenty of chances in the No 10 shirt during next season in the Championship, which will further enhance his development.
9. Francois Hougaard (Worcester Warriors)
The South African was outstanding in both attack and defence as Worcester beat Harlequins to claim their first Premiership win of 2020.
The scrum-half broke off a driving lineout to score the Warriors' bonus-point try in the final minute of the first half.
Hougaard varied his game to great effect, his crisp passing putting team-mates through gaps while also making 63 metres himself from 10 carries.
Only Matt Kvesic made more than tackles than Hougaard (14), who also won two defensive turnovers.
1. Ed Byrne (Leinster)
Byrne has given Leo Cullen and Stuart Lancaster food for thought ahead of Friday's PRO14 semi-final after an impressive outing against Ulster.
Captaining Leinster for the first time, Byrne set the tone by burrowing over for the opening try after only two minutes.
He also chipped in with 13 tackles and a poach in an excellent defensive display, while also forming part of a dominant Leinster scrum that won three penalties.
2. Tom Woolstencroft (Saracens)
Woolstencroft enjoyed a dream first outing with the Saracens captaincy by scoring a hat-trick in their midweek victory over Gloucester.
The hooker, standing in in the absence of Brad Barritt, delivered a standout performance by dotting down three times in 20 minutes.
3. Allan Alaalatoa (Brumbies)
The Wallaby produced an impressive 74-minute display against the Force, putting the visiting scrum under sustained pressure.
He also made 11 tackles and 13 carries in a five-try victory for the Canberra side.
4. Tadhg Beirne (Munster)
The new interpretations at the breakdown suit Beirne's game perfectly and he was the standout performer on his return to action with Munster.
He won a turnover penalty inside three minutes and was a menace at the breakdown all afternoon against a woefully ill-disciplined Connacht.
Beirne was harshly sin-binned on half-time for going off his feet when making a steal, although he would argue he had already won the ball before losing his balance.
He made up for that yellow card on his return, running a lovely line off Conor Murray to score Munster's bonus-point try and then had a hand in a fantastic team try that was finished by Andrew Conway.
5. Jonny Hill (Exeter Chiefs)
"He's come back a different player since lockdown."
Exeter head coach Ali Hepher was full of praise for Hill after scoring three tries in 27 minutes against Worcester.
Some lovely passing and support play saw Hill score his first, before driving over from close range for his second and supporting an elusive run from Jack Nowell to complete his hat-trick.
6. Jack Willis (Wasps)
Could we see Willis in an England shirt this autumn? If the Wasp maintains this form it will be difficult to overlook him.
Willis was again brilliant at the breakdown, winning five turnovers, while he also chipped in with a breathless 19 tackles and nine carries in another man-of-the-match display.
7. Will Connors (Leinster)
Connors was outstanding in defence as Leinster ended the PRO14 regular season with a perfect record.
The openside made a team-leading 19 tackles, which included a crunching hit on Ulster fly-half Ian Madigan, and he provided good support to help Ed Byrne grab the opening try.
Special mention to the Curry twins, Ben and Tom, who made a combined 24 tackles and won two turnovers in Sale's big win over Bristol.
8. Sam Simmonds (Exeter Chiefs)
The second of Exeter's hat-trick-scoring forwards, Simmons opened the scoring after eight minutes when he touched down from a trademark lineout drive.
Simmons' second also had a familiar feel, the No 8 forcing his way over after a succession of forward drives, and he rounded off a dominant Exeter display with the last of their nine tries.
Special mention to Isi Naisarani, who scored two tries for the Rebels.