URC STATS: Lions star Rabz steals the show
STAT ATTACK: The inaugural United Rugby Championship delivered a thrilling opening weekend of action.
More than 400 points were accumulated across the eight matches while there was an average of more than six tries scored per game.
PRO14 champions Leinster made a formidable start as they brushed aside the Bulls 31-3 in Dublin while Rainbow Cup winners Benetton came from behind to beat the Stormers 22-18 in Treviso.
In the opening match of the round, the Lions survived a second-half Zebre fightback to claim a 38-26 victory while Munster plundered the most points as they overcame the Sharks 42-17 at Thomond Park.
There were also wins for Ulster, Cardiff, Edinburgh and the Ospreys against Glasgow Warriors, Connacht, the Scarlets and the Dragons respectively.
The top performers in Round one:
Rabz Maxwane (Lions)
While Zebre deserve huge credit for their spirited response, the damage was ultimately done in a one-sided first half during which Lions wing Maxwane excelled.
The mesmerising 26-year-old proved to be a constant pest for the hosts, stretching the play and utilising his pace to claim two vital tries in the space of just three minutes.
Rory Darge (Glasgow Warriors)
Despite ending up on the losing side, Darge produced an excellent shift for the Warriors, who never gave up.
He rallied Glasgow when under the pump and inspired them to keep battling.
Owen Lane (Cardiff)
The Wales international was dangerous throughout with his pace and power causing Connacht problems.
He capped off a great performance with two tries.
Tomas Albornoz (Benetton)
Albornoz impressed on his debut.
An early conversion was a promising start and he showed his boldness when an easy three points was turned down to go for the corner which produced a second try.
After nailing two tough penalties, the fly-half stayed calm late on to help set up Menoncello’s crucial score.
Josh van der Flier (Leinster)
The dynamic 28-year-old openside was everywhere, taking his try with great aplomb and it was no surprise to see him involved in the build-up to Ross Byrne’s bonus-point effort.
Ben Vellacott (Edinburgh)
The scrumhalf, a key summer signing, epitomises what new coach Mike Blair wants from his team as he is always thinking on his feet.
His speed of thought was impressive, as was his willingness to back his own ability to get out of trouble, while his eye for a break is another invaluable asset.
Michael Collins (Ospreys)
Collins formed a potent centre partnership with Wales international Owen Watkin and could soon be of interest to national coach Wayne Pivac as he is qualified through his Welsh grandfather.
He, like his team, grew into the game with his strong running and was rewarded with two tries.
Craig Casey (Munster)
The smallest man on the pitch rose to the occasion once more.
The 22-year-old caught Marius Louw out for his score down the short side of a scrum and he marshalled a try-hungry Munster pack around the pitch.