Dupont and Earls stand out in Europe

On a thrilling weekend of European rugby a number of Guinness Six Nations stars shone for their respective clubs in the quarter-finals.

On a thrilling weekend of European rugby a number of Guinness Six Nations stars shone for their respective clubs in the quarter-finals.

Ireland winger Keith Earls got the ball rolling on Saturday with a try double to help Munster past Edinburgh before Jamie George inspired Saracens to victory over Glasgow Warriors.

In the final game on Saturday Jack Conan produced a man-of-the-match display for Leinster to help them squeeze past Ulster.

And finally on Sunday Antoine Dupont’s double proved crucial in a one-point victory for 14-man Toulouse against Racing 92.

Two tries from Ireland’s Keith Earls secured Munster a 17-13 victory at Edinburgh and a 14th Champions Cup semi-final appearance.

Earls, who scored tries in Ireland’s three victories against Scotland, Italy and France in the 2019 Guinness Six Nations, proved he can step up to the mark at club level to propel a comeback win in a decisive fixture.

The Irish winger took things into his own hands during the quarter-final clash at BT Murrayfield, scoring a superbly executed second try with nine minutes left to turn the game on its head and ensure his side advanced into the semi-finals – in thrilling fashion.

The 31-year-old’s clinical finishing ability is one of the key reasons Munster march on, taking his two chances in ruthless fashion to rescue victory.

Jamie George demonstrated his true potential with an outstanding performance for Saracens in their Champions Cup quarter-final win over Glasgow.

George scored a try in Saracen’s thumping 56-27 victory at Allianz Park, but it was his handling ability and lineout work that was decisive in securing his team’s progress to the semi-finals.

He had a hand in three of Saracens’ first four tries, showing the handling skills of a back and fizzing passes out wide.

The hooker started every game for England at the 2019 Guinness Six Nations, and he showed why as he starred for Saracens, who were without England skipper Owen Farrell as his wife went into labour on Saturday.

Liam Williams was one of the star men in Wales’ Grand Slam success, and he has carried that form back into domestic action.

The Wales full-back, named Guinness Six Nations Man of the Match in the win over England, scored two tries in the victory over Glasgow Warriors.

In the first half he showed his ability to compete for the high ball in attack, collecting Alex Goode’s clever chip kick to dot down.

And he added a second after the break as Saracens ran away with it to set up a semi-final against Munster.

It was a return to the Aviva Stadium for a host of Ireland internationals including No.8 Jack Conan of Leinster.

In a hard-fought game, Conan, who featured in three games in the Championship for Ireland, was everywhere, making the key break of the game.

With Ulster narrowly in front, Conan spotted a gap around the fringes around halfway and broke through a gap.

As he tried to readjust his shorts, he also spotted Adam Byrne outside him, feeding him for the try.

Ross Byrne, who made his debut for Ireland in 2018, then held his nerve late on, fighting through the pain of cramp to slot the winning penalty in the 21-18 victory.

On a weekend packed with excitement, the game of the quarter-finals might have come in Paris as Toulouse travelled to Racing 92.

Antoine Dupont got the visitors ahead early on with a great support line and try, but his team’s hopes looked to have been hit by a red card for fly-half Zack Holmes.

Dupont, who started three games in the Championship for France and scored against Italy, calmly slotted in at ten.

He then scored the third try of the afternoon for Toulouse, slipping through the grasp of Finn Russell on his way to the line.

Despite being a man down for much of the match, Toulouse were able to hold on for a 22-21 victory.

The other try from the four-time champions was from another French international, Maxime Médard but it was made by former France Under-20s winger Lucas Tauzin.

Part of France’s World Cup-winning Under-20s side, Tauzin’s spectacular offload made the difference for the Médard try.