Saracens winger leads our star players from opening round of matches
On a weekend in which Saracens and Ulster sealed dramatic late wins, there were some excellent individual displays in both the Premiership and PRO14 leagues.
From a superb attacking display from Saracens’ Liam Williams to another inspiring performance by John Cooney, we’ve picked out the top performers from the latest round of fixtures.
LIAM WILLIAMS (Saracens)
The Wales international came off the bench to score a stunning 26 minute hat-trick in Saracens 44-23 win over Bristol.
The 27-year-old was introduced for Alex Lewington on 52 minutes to complete his successful return from a groin injury – and made an impression immediately.
All three of Williams’ tries came from close range, with the London side moving back to the top of the table alongside last season’s finalists Exeter.
JOHN COONEY (Ulster)
The 28-year-old produced a man-of-the-match performance for the second week in a row in Ulster’s thrilling 30-29 win over Edinburgh.
Trailing by two points deep into injury time, Cooney nailed the vital kick to rack up 20 points from a try, three conversions and three penalties.
Incredibly, the former Leinster man made over 110 passes for the second straight game – this time 123 – more than any other scrum-half in the world over the course of the weekend.
GEORGE FORD (Leicester)
The England international gave Geordan Murphy the perfect start to life as interim head coach as Leicester overcame Newcastle 49-33 in a thrilling contest at Welford Road.
Central to their victory was fly-half Ford who starred with 29 points, including an early try, three conversions and six penalties.
Apart from his contribution from the kicking tee, the 25-year-old looked to stretch the defensive line at every opportunity, making 81 metres and beating nine defenders.
DANNY CIPRIANI (Gloucester)
The 30-year-old shone in front of England boss Eddie Jones, creating the leveling try for winger Matt Banahan and generally being at the centre of his team’s attacking exploits in their 31-31 draw with Bath.
The fly-half orchestrated the game superbly in his second appearance for the cherry and whites, with the sharpness of his play leading to a string of penalties that Billy Twelvetrees converted.
Cipriani kicked positively all afternoon and showed his magic touch to put Banahan over in the corner with a no-look pass.
PAUL BOYLE (Connacht)
The 21-year-old’s brace sealed Connacht’s first win of the PRO14 season against Zebre at the Sportsgrounds.
The Wexford man was excellent in pre-season and transferred that form into the domestic season – crossing for two tries in the opening half in just his second start for Andy Friend’s side.
Boyle struck for the dominant Westeners after nine minutes, before doubling his account on 21 minutes to leave Connacht in command against the struggling Italians.