Team of the week: Guinness PRO14 and Premiership semi-final performers lead the way
Last Updated: 21/05/18 2:35pm
With Guinness PRO14 and Aviva Premiership semi-finals, TOP14 barrages and a full round of Super Rugby, it was an action-packed weekend of rugby.
The knockout nature of so many of the matches certainly brought out the best in players and as a result there were a number of tough calls to make this week.
Peruse through our XV below and cast your vote for the most influential player of the weekend.
15. Johnny McNicholl (Scarlets)
From where we were sitting on Friday night, it looked like Johnny McNicholl had never been away as Scarlets kept the defence of their domestic title firmly on track.
McNicholl's footwork, pace, offloads and lines added an extra flavour to the Welsh region's output.
His counter-attacking ensured that points were accumulated at exactly the right time with his key role in Rob Evans' 32nd-minute try being point and case.
14. Bautista Delguy (Jaguares)
The first member of the Jaguares in this week's XV is Bautista Delguy who scored twice during the side's bonus-point victory.
Both of his tries were pacy finishes and he set the tone early by coming just short of the line.
A quick recycle meant that Nicolas Sanchez finished the side's first try and they pressed from there. In total Delguy beat five defenders and made 60 metres.
13. Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs)
Against Newcastle Falcons, Rob Baxter's Chiefs showed exactly why they are the defending Aviva Premiership champions.
At Sandy Park, their outside centre hit the right notes with his distribution out of hand and with the use of his boot.
The 25-year-old always looks like he has a world of time to play with and his outing may have turned the head of Eddie Jones with England's summer tour fast approaching.
12. Ma'a Nonu (Toulon)
Yes, Toulon did not take the victory that they wanted and their inside centre blotted his copybook with a yellow card, however his overall performance was noteworthy.
The explosive international was typically muscular in D, made great line breaks and delivered a sensational steal and offload for Chris Ashton's try.
11. Rieko Ioane (Blues)
In Auckland, the Blues were also on the wrong side of a result however their winger stood out in defeat.
The 21-year-old looked dangerous every time that he had the ball and, in total, Ioane beat eight defenders and made 80 metres.
He commenced the day by setting up his side's seventh-minute try with an electric break down the left and sumptuous offload for Matt Duffie and then added a second score after the interval.
10. Rhys Patchell (Scarlets)
By far, fly-half was the most difficult to select this week due to a number of phenomenal performances.
Hayden Parker shone for the Sunwolves, Owen Farrell was remarkable for Saracens, however, this week's jersey is handed to Rhys Patchell.
The fly-half's confidence was as clear as day with his third-minute try and his feel for Scarlets' knockout encounter was first class.
During his man-of-the-match interview, the 25-year-old praised the work of their pack and there is no doubt that his teammates would have been singing his praises too.
Patchell had a ball and Scarlets fans will be hoping for a repeat performance in Dublin on Saturday.
9. John Cooney (Ulster)
Ulster secured Champions Cup rugby next season with their victory over Ospreys at the Kingspan Stadium and their scrum-half finished his season with a deserved man-of-the-match award.
The back received a standing ovation as he left the field having contributed no less than 15 of their 35 points.
During an undulating season results wise, Cooney's performances have been shining lights and it was clear to see why he secured a trio of awards at their end-of-season ceremony, including Ulster Player of the Year.
1. Mako Vunipola (Saracens)
In the north London sunshine, Saracens' prop excelled and showed us all how it is done.
The 27-year-old was his side's top carrier with 16, he made 61 metres and beat two defenders for good measure. His physicality shone alongside his work at the set-piece and his number of involvements. In short, it was a very impressive afternoon's work.
2. Ken Owens (Scarlets)
At Scotstoun Stadium, Ken Owens had a productive day at the office as Scarlets secured their place in the PRO14 final.
He delivered 100% accuracy at the lineout - 12 from 12 - scored a try and worked at an 89% tackle completion rate, missing just one of his eight tackles.
3. Taniela Tupou (Reds)
The Reds narrowly lost out to the Hurricanes at Westpac Stadium, however, their prop created oodles of headlines with his sublime individual outing.
The 22-year-old's highlights included taking an excellent pick-and-go try, strong set-piece work and making an outstanding second-half break for Jordan Petaia's score.
The prop flew down the left-wing to create the try and his 'X-factor' was hailed by his head coach after the match.
4. Maro Itoje (Saracens)
Back to north London and Saracens hit the half-century mark for the fifth game in a row, duly booking their place in this season's Premiership final as a result.
Maro Itoje surged across the line for a 71st-minute try having been set up by his second-row partner George Kruis.
His father's celebrations after were superb and the lock looked hungry for work all afternoon as he attacked the game with the purpose and intensity that he is famed for.
5. James Ryan (Leinster)
So it is now 22 games as a professional rugby player and 22 victories for James Ryan... even if you're familiar with the statistic it is still mightily impressive, isn't it?
Ryan made 23 tackles at the RDS, more than any other player on the park, and only James Lowe eclipsed the young lock when it came to metres made.
His head-turning form continues and come Saturday night he could be 23 from 23 with a Grand Slam, a Champions Cup title and a PRO14 title to his name.
6. Dave Ewers (Exeter Chiefs)
At Sandy Park, the reigning Premiership champions showed their claws with a clinical performance and their flanker stepped up.
Dave Ewers not only carried phenomenally hard, finishing the afternoon with 18, he made 14 tackles and showed tremendous dexterity.
His offloading ability made jaws drop and his work in the loose ensured that the Chiefs simmered.
7. Marcos Kremer (Jaguares)
Marcos Kremer certainly enjoyed himself as the Jaguares made it five Super Rugby wins in succession.
He notched up 16 carries and 44 metres plus his hit-and-spin try after 47 minutes was well-taken and a duly deserved reward for his strong work.
Before we move on and highlight our No 8, it would be remiss of us not to also mention the performance of Don Armand.
The Chief scored the final try in their semi-final victory and mesmerised those watching with his physicality, work in the closer quarters and energy.
Stuart Barnes talking points
Stuart Barnes looks at whether Leinster can do the double, The Premiership Final and who will replace Paul Gustard for England.
8. Dylan Cretin (Lyon)
The young man arrived onto the field after 66 minutes and made his mark in style.
Cretin scored the crucial long-range try that took the barrage encounter to extra-time and it was the score that would ultimately decide the match.
He made 60 metres, delivered 10 tackles (missing none) and beat four defenders during his time on the park.