15. Hugo Bonneval (Stade Francais)
Showed great attacking endeavour with his counter-attacking and his forays into the attacking line often ended in try-scoring success for his side. His two tries allow him to pip Rob Kearney, who was also very impressive, for the spot.
14. Christian Wade (London Wasps)
The young flyer continues to shine, and consistently beats defenders when it seems like he has no right to. His pace is up there with the likes of Bryan Habana and Taku Ngwenya, and he is beginning to develop a step which is reminiscent of Jason Robinson. His defence is improving, and though it is still an area he needs to work on, the watching Gatland and Lancaster will certainly have been very impressed by his two-try performance.
13. Benoit Baby (Biarritz)
Horacio Agulla of Bath put in a good performance in his side’s loss, but Baby pips him by virtue of having scored an important try and was arguably a shade stronger in defence.
12. Gordon D’Arcy (Leinster)
Leinster’s Lion hopefuls certainly chose the right game to perform, especially with Warren Gatland watching from the stands. D’Arcy had an imperious game, consistently picking the right option, whether that was to run or pass, and defended manfully, often preventing Wasps from spreading the ball out to their potent wingers.
11. Waisea Vuidarvuwalu (Stade Francais)
Try-scoring wingers could be found in abundance at the weekend, but few showed the power and precision of Vuidarvuwalu.
10. Ian Madigan (Leinster)
The young fly-half was in supreme form as his consistently punished Wasps with his incisive running and tactical kicking. Lions talk is almost certainly premature, but once he matures, and learns to pass at times rather than run with the ball, he will provide great competition for Jonathan Sexton in the hunt for Ireland’s 10 jersey.
9. Dimitri Yachvili (Biarritz)
Often Biarritz’s saviour, Yachvili inspired a truly dominant performance for the French side. On point with kicking, Yachvili also managed to help spark Biarritz’s back line, a task the French side do not always manage, and coupled with good marshalling of his forwards helped overpower Gloucester.
1. Cian Healy (Leinster)
The Irishman certainly didn’t do any damage to his Lions hopes this weekend. He was powerful both in the loose and at the scrum, albeit against the relatively inexperienced Phil Swainston in the Wasps front row, and he was a key component in helping Leinster progress.
2. Arnaud Heguy (Biarritz)
Heguy was part of a Biarritz pack which outmuscled Gloucester, and grabbed a try in the process. He was accurate at the lineout and put in a workhorse shift in the front row.
3. Nicolas Mas (Perpignan)
Although he faced tough competition from Mike Ross, who also scored a try in Leinster’s win, Mas was an absolute force at the scrum, helping overpower the vaunted Jean-Baptiste Poux and Toulouse front row. Even with an influx of foreign stars, the traditional idea of destructive French props seems to be alive and well.
4. Devin Toner (Leinster)
The giant lock was at his best at Adams Park. Highly efficient at the lineout, and dangerous charging down kicks, Toner was also a proficient ball carrier and energetic in defence.
5. Edwin Maka (Toulouse)
Maka was a shining light in a forgettable performance for Toulouse, bring a physicality which many of his teammates seemed to lack. His hard work in both the loose and at the set piece was justifiably rewarded with a try.
6. Pierre Rabadan (Stade Francais)
The flanker turned back the clock and showed the kind of form he displayed in his younger years when he was tipped to be a future star in the French back row. Rabadan was energetic at the breakdown, and helped deny Bath the quick ball they desired to release their potent backs.
7. Sean O’Brien (Leinster)
O’Brien went head to head with a strong Wasps back row and came out victorious. He was key in securing quick ball for his side, as well as hurting Wasps around the fringes with his powerful carrying. He faces stiff competition at seven for the Lions, but could travel as a versatile six.
8. Sergio Parisse (Stade Francais)
This was a no-brainer. Parisse added another man of the match performance to his extensive collection, and there was no area of the game where the Italian did not excel. It is arguably possible to count on one hand the number of bad games Parisse has had in his career – his ability and consistency continue to amaze.
by Alex Shaw (@alexshawsport)