John Cooney once again starred for Ulster Rugby, as the Ireland scrum-half’s 79th-minute penalty ensured a perfect start for his club in Europe this season.
Cooney did not travel to Japan for the World Cup but, ahead of the 2020 Guinness Six Nations, he again displayed his credentials as a man for the big occasions after his decisive kick, part of a ten-point haul, gave his side a 25-24 victory against Harlequins
As he aims to help Ulster to a second successive European quarter-final, his game-winning moments against Bath in Round 1 and again against Harlequins proves the Ulstermen mean business this season.
Elsewhere, victories for Leinster Rugby and Munster Rugby secured a clean sweep for Irish provinces in the Champions Cup on Saturday, with wins over Northampton Saints and Saracens, respectively.
While it was a full house of victories for the Irish provinces, the same cannot be said for the English clubs.
All three suffered defeats at the hands of Irish opposition in the Champions Cup and will look to lick their wounds ahead of the return fixtures next weekend.
Saracens – without Mako and Billy Vunipola, Owen Farrell and Elliot Daly – failed to find their feet at Thomond Park as they lost 10-3 against Munster but did leave with a creditable bonus point.
Meanwhile Northampton Saints, leaders in the English Premiership, struggled to contain a strong second-half Leinster performance as they fell 43-16 at Franklin’s Gardens.
It wasn’t all doom and gloom for English clubs, though, as Leicester Tigers regained some form with a big 59-7 win over Rugby Calvisano in the Challenge Cup.
England’s stars Manu Tuliagi and Jonny May look to be rounding into form ahead of the 2020 Championship as they got themselves on the scoresheet – with the latter registering a try double.
Glasgow Warriors have reached the quarter-finals in Europe in two of the previous three seasons and if their determined display against La Rochelle proved anything, it is that the Scottish side are desperate to return to the knock-out stages.
While Finn Russell was sprinkling his seemingly unlimited stardust in Racing 92’s 40-19 away win at Ospreys, 14-cap Adam Hastings put his hand up to remind Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend not to forget about his dazzling talents when it comes to selecting his starting fly-half.
While Hastings’s expansive play can sometimes lead to problems – as seen in the build up to the French side’s opening try – his maverick style of running rugby put Glasgow in great positions throughout their 27-24 victory in France.
At just 23 years old, the former Bath fly-half still has plenty of time to round the edges of his game but his displays this season in Europe are already demonstrating his potential.
In addition to Russell, Teddy Thomas also impressed in Racing’s triumph as he ran in two tries.
The France speedster is a prolific finisher and showed that again in a performance that will please new boss of Les Bleus Fabien Galthié