Ulster and Leinster lead the way

There were plenty of standout performances over the weekend as the BKT United Rugby Championship came back with a bang.

Both Ulster and Leinster have bonus points wins, although the latest victory is far from routine, while Cardiff and Edinburgh also have impressive wins.

15. Stuart Moore (Ulster)

The full-back made 115 meters from 10 campaigns against Connacht, including three line breaks, and was in place to take a Luke Marshall pass and a cross into the corner to attempt Ulster with an extra point.

Ulster developed some excellent depth in his back three and Moore’s performance justified his selection in Ireland’s emerging squad.

14 – Darcy Graham (Edinburgh)

Graham helped himself in two attempts as he demolished the Edinburgh Dragon by 38 points.

While Graham was thanking his attackers for his first attempt, the Scottish winger provided the finishing touch after the knockout, the second was a piece of individual brilliance.

The 25-year-old picked up a loose ball from about 30 meters away and tricked a number of Dragons players with his footwork to score the bonus point.

13. Ray Lee – Lou (Cardiff)

Lee-Lo overtook Monster for the first time Malakai Fekitoa with Barnstorm midfield showing at Cardiff Arms Park.

The Samoan international stood out with some defining moments in defence, winning twice and shooting off the line to deny Fekitoa any space, but it was his carrying and unloading qualities that really caught the eye as Dai Young’s men got off to a successful start.

Special mention to return Luke Marshall, who tried to beat Ulster Connacht.

12 – Enrico Luchin (Zepri)

Stuart McCloskey’s NBA-style dump to create Marshall’s attempt would have been worthy of any notable reel, but Lucchin earned a nod for his excellent all-round display.

The 27-year-old had a role in three of Zebre’s five attempts, including a masterful pass to pass Franco Smith for his fifth pointer with 11 minutes remaining, while his tough carrying and running streaks caused plenty of problems for Leinster.

11 – Ignacio Mendy (Benetton)

My Argentina international featured twice in the second half as Benetton stunned Glasgow in the opening game of the new season.

Mendy scored a superb starting goal, slashed his way through three Warriors defenders to land, and pounced on a loose ball to score an extra point in the last minute.

The 22-year-old provided 59 meters with the ball in his hand and beat five defenders.

10. Sam Costello (Scarletts)

Costelow took center stage in the accident-ridden Wales derby, scoring 18 points against the Ospreys including a superb solo attempt.

The outside half was sidelined by a dangerous disqualification of Justin Tiboric but struggled about that in the second half to spark a Scarlett fight at Parkway Scarletts – and he was given the green light when he tore a hole in a tired defense.

The Ospreys had the last word when they snatched a last-minute equalizer but Costelow’s performance would have caught Wayne Pivac’s attention. The 21-year-old has already been touted as a potential successor to Dan Biggar and could win his first match in November.

9 – Nathan Doak (Ulster)

Half Scrum made another emphatic performance against Connacht, scoring 16 points and confidently leading his team around the ring.

Doak was involved in the lead-up to attempts by Luke Marshall and Stewart Moore while quick thinking saw him finish third for Ulster early in the second half.

The 20-year-old was scoring with five of his six attempts from the tee and was able to come in comfortably at the outside half during the final quarter.

1. Ed Byrne (Leinster)

Byrne’s show was among the highlights of Leinster’s erratic performance at Zebre.

Irish support had its corresponding number scale in Scrum’s time and provided an effective latch for Reese Ruddock’s second attempt.

Byrne also had some fine moments in the lead, making nine saves leading the team, and producing a number of skillful clearances to keep his team ahead.

2. Tom Stewart (Ulster)

The bitch had his first start in Ulster with a bid as he deserved the Man of the Match award against Connacht.

Stewart twice grabbed Connacht’s nap when he broke from behind the strikes, scored with the first and was inches from the other on the second.

Dan MacFarland says the 21-year-old has a “high ceiling” and will be out to dazzle during this month’s Emerging Ireland Tour.

Stewart’s No. 2 jersey is ahead of Christian Dassey, who had the test of Cardiff’s win over Monster.

3 – Marty Moore (Ulster)

Moore was in good shape in Saturday’s season opener, playing a key role in the Ulster scrum that took Connacht to the Cleaners.

With Ireland seeking to deepen the front line, can Moore get his way back into the fray? It’s been more than seven years since he won his last ten matches.

4 – Federico Rosa (Benetton)

The Benetton group set up a podium that allowed the show to break away from Glasgow, with Ruzza in the lead.

The Italy international, who was named Man of the Match, played a key role in Benetton’s second attempt as he slashed his way over the goal line.

The Italian team’s start to the season has surprised everyone, especially Leinster, who host Benetton at RDS on Friday.

5 – Jason Jenkins (Leinster)

The South African enjoyed his promising debut with his new county and seemed to put Leinster on his way to a comfortable victory as he negotiated an extra point in 36 minutes.

Jenkins was an effective choice in the lineup and it was his pass from the top that made Reese Ruddock charge on his first try. He left after 53 minutes and would have been nervously watching as Leinster held up against Zepre.

6. Reese Ruddock (Leinster)

Captain Leinster Ruddock crossed two attempts in five minutes in the first half at Parma.

The winger made his way through a block of Zebri’s bodies to score his team’s second attempt in 20 minutes, before penetrating from close range while the home side were under 14 players.

Zepre threatened a stunning comeback in the second half as Leinster tired but Ruddock continued to show off with some big moments in defense to secure a winning start.

7. Marcel Coetzee (Bulls)

The former Ulster back row scored an attempt and created again while also scoring 16 tackles as last year’s finalists secured a convincing victory over their close rivals.

Coetzee opened the scoring at Ellis Park in a trademark fashion, executing a penalty and increasing his strength from five metres.

While the attempt was brute force, Coetzee showed his deft hand twice in preparation for the Bulls’ second attempt, with Cornal Hendrix’s pass into the corner.

Coetzee is outdone by Thomas Young, who enjoyed a fantastic debut for Cardiff.

8 – Tolopi Valletau (Cardiff)

Valletau gave a man of the match performance on his Cardiff debut to help beat Monster.

Wales No. 8 was a box of tricks, from cool dump to perfect inch grubs – even his dummy lines created space for his teammates.

Faletau and Rey Lee-Lo came together brilliantly when he hit the ground while returning to the Welsh rugby club. Outstanding performance in the opening weekend.