The European Champions Cup and Challenge Cup took centre stage this weekend with eight British & Irish Lions looking to prove their worth to Warren Gatland ahead of the tour of New Zealand.
Six Lions helped Saracens win back-to-back Champions Cups while Ross Moriarty and Greig Laidlaw ended up on the losing side as Gloucester fell to defeat against Stade Francais.
Saracens’ Billy Vunipola charges upfield during the European Rugby Champions Cup Final defeat to ASM Clermont Auvergne. David Rogers/Getty Images
Jamie George 9/10
Faultless at set-piece as it gave Saracens a brilliant platform to attack. George won a crucial turnover, made a linebreak when Farrell sent him scurrying downfield. Each game surely has Gatland thinking seriously about starting George in New Zealand.
Owen Farrell 9/10
Two tough kicks missed with a conversion from wide right and a penalty from halfway were mere blips in an otherwise superb performance. A delightful delayed pass put Alex Goode in for the decisive try in the final 10 minutes. Was frustrated with a lack of a yellow card after repeated Clermont infringements. A huge hit on Remi Lamerat caused the French centre to knock on as Clermont looked to bounce back before halftime.
George Kruis 9/10
Kruis was absolutely immense, brilliantly charging onto Richard Wigglesworth’s pass from five yards to crash over for the second try. His charging down of a Morgan Parra clearance in the opening minute of the second half set the Sarries tone for the final 40.
Maro Itoje 7/10
Solid lineout option for Sarries but two penalties, one for needlessly taking Damien Chouly in the air at the lineout — the other at the breakdown — and five missed tackles is surely a concern. Big tackle count but needs to bring down his error count.
Billy Vunipola 10/10
A huge threat off the back of the scrum, Sarries highest metres carrier and only a brave covering tackle from Morgan Parra prevented the backrow from getting a try. The All Blacks might have realised not to send restarts his way based on Clermont’s persistence with it. Solid in defence, always found his man in the tackle and managed a turnover.
Mako Vunipola 9/10
Mako Vunipola put in a monster tackle on Spedding just after halftime. Always likely to make a quick burst and had the biggest tackle count for the Champions. There is no doubt he will be a big asset as Gatland looks to upset the All Blacks.
Gloucester’s Greig Laidlaw reacts during the European Rugby Challenge Cup Final defeat to Stade Francais. Stu Forster/Getty Images
Greig Laidlaw 6/10
Didn’t have much of an impact, coming off the bench after halftime with the game level at 10-10 to replace Willi Heinz after half-time. Some of his kicking was standard, while he missed two tackles, the second of which as Geoffrey Doumayrou danced his way through to score. Perhaps he is still trying to get back to his best after injury.
Ross Moriarty 7/10
With the game almost dead Moriarty crashed over to grab a consolation try but was always eager to carry. He was found wanting for Doumayrou’s try and will be disappointed with two missed tackles.
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