Europe’s premier competition returned with a bang and there were a number of impressive results during an action-packed weekend.
Champions Saracens boast the most players this week after their hammering of Northampton at Franklin’s Gardens and there’s a fair spread amongst the other teams although a couple of players who were on the losing side also sneak ino our team.
See who made the cut below.
European Champions Cup: Team of Round 1
15 Joey Carbery (Leinster): The 21-year-old full-back scored a try and made another in his side’s impressive dismantling of Montpellier to add to his 15 carries for 84 metres. Leigh Halfpenny also impressed for Scarlets, beating three defenders and scoring a try in the process.
14 Liam Williams (Saracens): The British and Irish Lions full-back scored two tries, created another and made 125 metres from his 17 carries – a hugely impressive showing. Johnny McNicholl was also a standout for Scarlets with his try and six defenders beaten.
13 Robbie Henshaw (Leinster): Only recently returning from injury, Henshaw put up his hand with this performance, scoring a try from his 17 powerful carries that included three clean breaks. He was busy on defence too as he made 11 tackles.
12 Geoffrey Doumayrou (La Rochelle): Doumayrou grabbed a brace for his side in their historic maiden victory in the competition, away at Harlequins. He also made four clean breaks and beat four defenders from seven carries for 90 metres. Saracens skipper Brad Barritt was also excellent.
11 Nemani Nadolo (Montpellier): The burly Fijian scored two tries and beat an incredible 11 defenders from his 21 carries but still managed to end up on the losing side at Leinster. Alivereti Raka scored a sensational try for Clermont and beat five Ospreys’ defenders.
10 Owen Farrell (Saracens): Farrell ran the show as Saracens smashed Northampton 57-13. He was at the heartbeat of everything good about the reigning champions, showing world-class distribution with his 37 passes, beating two defenders and kicking accurately with his seven conversions and a penalty.
9: Morgan Parra (Clermont): Parra was sublime against the Ospreys, leading his side well with his excellent distribution, accurate goal and box-kicking and all-round astute decision making. He ensured his side got over the advantage line regularly with slick continuity. Finished with a 13-point haul courtesy of three penalties and two conversions.
8 Sam Simmonds (Exeter Chiefs): Enhanced his growing reputation with a polished display in the Premiership champions’ hard-fought win over Glasgow Warriors at Sandy Park. The young back-row scored the match-winning try and gained 24 metres on attack but also impressed on defence and made seven tackles. Beats out Racing 92’s Yannick Nyanga.
7 Facundo Isa (Toulon): The Argentine international was the go-to-man as a ball carrier in Toulon’s pack and constantly crossed the gainline with several barnstorming runs. Isa eventually gained 90 metres from 15 runs which included one clean break, four defenders beaten as well as an offload. Justin Tipuric was also superb for the Ospreys.
6 Zach Mercer (Bath): Another young player who is improving with every outing, the 20-year-old delivered an energetic display in his side’s home win over Benetton Rugby. Mercer made 46 metres with ball in hand from nine runs with a defender beaten, one clean break, managed an offload and also scored a try. Exeter’s Don Armand also impressed.
5 Leone Nakarawa (Racing 92): The flying Fijian was superb in his side’s narrow victory over Leicester Tigers. Nakawara was a constant threat on attack and finished with 43 metres gained from 16 runs with one defender beaten, an incredible 10 offloads and he was rewarded with a try for his outstanding effort.
4 Jake Ball (Scarlets): The Wales second-row was at the forefront of his side’s forward effort in a losing cause against Toulon. Ball was particularly impressive in defence and finished with 15 tackles and beats out Wasps captain Joe Launchbury and Charlie Ewels of Bath.
3 Vincent Koch (Saracens): The Springbok shone as the defending champions put Northampton to the sword at Franklin’s Gardens. Koch scrummed well, was a strong ball carrier gaining 26 metres from 12 carries with one clean break, one defender beaten, two offloads and he also scored a deserved try.
2 Guilhem Guirado (Toulon): Delivered a superb allround display during a narrow victory at home against the Scarlets. Guirado did well on attack and gained 25 metres from seven runs with one clean break and scored a superb try. Ulster’s Rob Herring and La Rochelle’s Hikairo Forbes also played well.
1 Mako Vunipola (Saracens): Joins his Sarries front-row partner Koch in our side after a fine effort against Northampton. Like Kock, Vunipola also crossed the whitewash and he also caught the eye when doing his core duties. Antoine Tichit also shone for Castres in their draw with Munster.