A number of Ireland forwards showed their try-scoring potential as Leinster took the headlines during the weekend’s domestic action.
During a convincing 50-15 win over Scarlets at the RDS Arena, the Leinster pack scored six tries and also earned a penalty to break the United Rugby Championship record for most tries without a back scoring any of them.
Highly-rated young hooker Dan Sheehan went over for two of the scores, while Ireland coach Andy Farrell will have been delighted to see the other four scored by current internationals ahead of the upcoming Autumn Nations Series – Ronan Kelleher, Andrew Porter, Caelan Doris and Cian Healy the men to dot down.
Back-three star Johnny McNicholl will be hoping to force his way back into Wales’s plans, and did his case no harm with a try, but it was largely a day to forget for Scarlets.
In the battle of Irish fly-halves, Connacht’s Jack Carty outshone Munster’s Joey Carbery with pinpoint distribution during a Player of the Match display but Carbery slotted a late conversion to give his side a 20-18 win.
Carty had even charged down Carbery to score a try that put Connacht ahead in the final stages before Diarmuid Barron’s 78th-minute score and the subsequent extras turned the tables.
Elsewhere in the United Rugby Championship, back-rower Nick Timoney – who made his Ireland debut against the United States this summer – crossed twice as Ulster defeated the Lions 26-10.
Scrum-half Rhys Webb reminded Wales coach Wayne Pivac of his abilities with a pair of tries for Ospreys during a 29-26 victory over Benetton that also saw Azzurri winger Monty Ioane, hooker Gianmarco Lucchesi and talented young centre Tommaso Menoncello among the scorers for the Italians.
Pivac would have been impressed by the recently recalled Rhys Priestland, who steered Cardiff Rugby to a 23-17 victory over Cell C Sharks with 13 points from the boot, while centre Uilisi Halaholo also crossed for a try.
But England boss Eddie Jones faces an anxious wait after key men Luke Cowan-Dickie, Maro Itoje and Anthony Watson all left the field injured across the course of the weekend.
On his first game back for Saracens after British & Irish Lions duty this summer, Itoje scored an early try but exited in the second half with a shoulder injury – although his premature departure didn’t stop Sarries cruising to a dominant 71-17 victory over Bath.
Utility back Max Malins was the star with a hat-trick, while hooker Jamie George got two tries but Bath’s day got worse when winger Watson limped off with a knee injury.
Henry Slade, Sam Simmonds and Jonny Hill were among the scorers as Exeter Chiefs downed Wasps 27-23 but hooker Cowan-Dickie appeared to roll his ankle as he was forced off the field.
Wales back-rower Thomas Young celebrating a recall to their international squad by scoring one of Wasps’ two tries in that contest, while another Welshman – winger Luis Rees-Zammit – crossed for a sensational try as Gloucester drew 25-25 away to London Irish.
Fly-half Marcus Smith couldn’t stop Harlequins slipping to a 28-22 defeat at Sale Sharks but England summer debutant Callum Chick barrelled over for Newcastle Falcons’ only score in a 13-5 triumph over Bristol Bears.
Over in France, Montpellier’s clash with Clermont became a battle of kickers hoping to make an impact in the Autumn Nations Series.
Julien Tisseron and Damian Penaud exchanged early tries before Italy fly-half Paolo Garbisi booted five penalties for Montpellier and France’s Camille Lopez did likewise for Clermont but Lopez’s conversion of Penaud’s try ultimately proved the difference in a 22-20 triumph.
Les Bleus lock Paul Gabrillagues and flanker Sekou Macalou both crossed as Stade Francais edged out Perpignan 23-22, while Matthieu Jalibert staked his latest claim for the starting No.10 jersey in the Autumn Nations Series with a virtuoso performance for Bordeaux Bègles.
The 22-year-old scored two tries, booted three penalties and three conversions for good measure for an individual tally of 25 in Bordeaux’s 37-33 victory over Pau.