With the dust now settled across Europe, it's time to pick out the players who stood out from the crowd in Round 5 of the Heineken Cup.
Now that the dust has settled across Europe, it's time to pick out the players who stood out from the crowd in Round 5 of the Heineken Cup.
Crucial wins for Clermont, Toulon, Leinster, Munster and Toulouse saw top spot in five of the six pools all but decided with a round to go in a weekend that featured some brilliant performances from wingers.
So without further ado, here comes our offering – feel free to select your XV in the comments section below.
Heineken Cup: Team of Round Five
15 Jean-Marcelin Buttin (Clermont): A constant threat on the counter attack, the young French international prospect was also accurate with his kicking, keeping Quins on their toes. A mention too for Leinster's Rob Kearney, who was named Man of the Match in Castres thanks in no small part to his monster drop goal.
14 Hosea Gear (Toulouse): We were spoilt for choice in the wing department this week, especially on the left flank. Gear wore 11 for Toulouse but he was so good we took the liberty of switching him to the other side, meaning he keeps out team-mate Yoann Huget, Clermont's try machine Sitiveni Sivivatu and Charlie Sharples, who scored a screamer for Gloucester.
13 Matt Hopper (Harlequins): Unwanted by England to some dismay from supporters in certain corners, Hopper was in the right place at the right time to latch onto Danny Care's miracle pass that put Harlequins ahead against Clermont. Wily and elusive, Hopper made plenty of carries against Clermont's defence and beat a couple of defenders along with making 44 metres and eight tackles in a solid shift. A mention for Leicester's Vereniki Goneva.
12 RÃ©mi Lamerat (Castres): The Castres man saw off the competition this week with his remarkable stat of nine defenders beaten against Leinster, on top of making 53 metres. Part of a free-flowing Castres backline including Seremaia Bai and Brice Dulin, Lamerat was the star. Mentions for Clement Poitrenaud of Toulouse and Treviso's Matteo Prattichetti, who was the weekend's top-tackling back with 19 hits.
11 George North (Northampton): As mentioned above, it was great weekend for left wingers with North, Miles Benjamin, Sean Lamont and Matt Healy all getting man-of-the-match awards while David Smith impressed for Toulon. But North gets our nod for his jaw-dropping performance which included a try, 148 metres gained and six defenders beaten.
10 Jean-Marc Doussain (Toulouse): It as hard not to pick Leinster playmaker Jimmy Gopperth after his brace against Castres but Doussain's game management was out of the top drawer in the Ville Rose. 21 points and seven denders beaten, you couldn't ask for much more from a 10. A tip of the cap too for Glasgow's Ruaridh Jackson.
9 Eoin Reddan (Leinster): Ireland's scrum-half set up a try and made 69 metres – more than any other Leinster back – as he combined with Jimmy Gopperth to haul Leinster back in front against Castres. Enjoying one of his best seasons for some time, Reddan has displayed more of a running threat of late and made four cleans breaks, beating two defenders. A mention for Harlequins Danny Care for his outstanding pass to Hopper.
8 Fritz Lee (Clermont): It was very hard to leave out Louis Picamoles but we couldn't ignore Lee's stats which included 86 metres made with ball in hand, 14 tackles and three defenders beaten – impressive stuff for a number eight. A shout out too for Jamie Heaslip, who carried for over 100m.
7 Thierry Dusautoir (Toulouse): Cometh the hour, cometh the man. The French skipper always comes to the party in big games and against Sarries on Sunday it was hard to find a ruck that he wasn't involved in. A mention for Julian Salvi, who scored for Leicester.
6 Yannick Nyanga (Toulouse): An impressive day out for the Toulouse loose trio was highlighted by Nyanga's tireless effort. The support from the home flankers gave their backs the freedom to play with abandon. A big shout out for Munster try-scorer Peter O'Mahony.
5 Paul O'Connell(Munster): The 34-year-old Lions lock was simply phenomenal at Kingsholm, prompting Munster head coach Rob Penney to describe him as a “once in a lifetime” player. A mention for Glasgow's Tom Ryder.
4 Grant Gilchrist (Edinburgh): At the heart of Edinburgh's win over Perpignan was a successful line-out, with Gilchrist taking six balls. Add that to his 22 metres made, ten carries and nine tackles – Gilchrist had a very productive afternoon in the second row. Mentions for Devin Toner of Leinster for his defensive work and Toulon's old warrior Bakkies Botha.
3 Carl Hayman (Toulon): Part of a Toulon eight that just bullied Cardiff Blues in Nice, Hayman appeared to relish the scrummaging contest against first Gethin Jenkins and then Sam Hobbs. Toulon's three penalty tries won by their pack – two from scrums – were fierce and uncompromising.
2 Craig Burden (Toulon): Burden's move to France from the Sharks appears to be handsomely paying off. Starting ahead of Jean-Charles Orioli, Burden made 40 metres carrying in the loose and was solid defensively, also hitting his preferred target Jocelino Suta five times at the line-out. Mentions for Dave Ward of Harlequins and Edinburgh's Ross Ford.
1 Alex Waller (Northampton): Missing Alex Corbisiero isn't such a blow for Northampton when Waller plays this well. A growing prospect at the age of 23, Waller got stuck into the Ospreys scrum and made a decent number of tackles with seven in a hardworking front row alongside Dylan Hartley and Salesi Ma'afu.
By Ross Hastie and Ben Coles (bencoles_)