Eight rounds into the new Top 14 season and Lyon are still setting the pace at the top of the table.
Last weekend featured big wins for some of the more established teams in the league, but which players impressed former Toulon centre Tom May?
Many may not have heard of the Lyon three-quarter but he has been in France since 2013 and has made nearly 100 appearances for the club. This season he has added to an already substantial try tally, crossing seven times for the league leaders. It's proving pretty hard for him not to score when he gets the opportunity to play and if Lyon are to replicate what La Rochelle did last term then that is an attribute Pierre Mignoni's side will need as the campaign progresses.
Arnold gets involved in the midfield regularly and has an expert finishing ability which he showed again last weekend against lowly Oyonnax. Their opponents fielded ex-Harlequins duo Matt Hopper and Ben Botica but that wasn't enough to stop Arnold racing to the touchline to help Lyon to a 52-18 win. He didn't start round seven but certainly made his point in round eight.
After a fantastic start to life at Toulon it was inevitable that he would have to spend some time watching from the sidelines due to the competition he faces for a place in the backline. Semi Radradra has arrived from the NRL and that meant Ashton was not needed in round seven. He doesn't miss an opportunity, though, and back in the side for Toulon's 41-24 home win over Brive, the winger scored twice.
One was a brilliant 75-plus metre solo effort which started when he picked the ball up around his own 22 and set off. He then weaved his way across the field to round the defence -- there's no substitute for pace. His second came courtesy of a powerful surge from Radradra at 13 who deftly offloaded to Ashton on a typical support line. Six tries across the season for the former England man now.
This guy has been sensational throughout the start of this season both within the Top 14 and the opening two rounds of European competition. At times Raka, like Virimi Vakatawa of Racing, can be unplayable. He sat out in round seven but he was back and scored again this weekend in Clermont's 33-10 home win over struggling Stade Francais.
Morgan Parra had options but turned away from every other teammate to kick crossfield to the side of the pitch covered by five Stade players. Only Raka held the width. A bounce of the ball which suggests he possesses powers over that too led to him holding the ball one-handed as he swatted his way to the try line. No wonder France have their eye on the 22-year-old, apparently.
Nadolo is at times pretty much unplayable. Rapid and with a dodgy looking programme weight of 275 pounds [closer to 310 pounds, I reckon], the Fijian's form for Montpellier this season has been nothing short of immense. Somehow, Stade managed to topple his side in round seven but he showed everyone how he can score with no run up. A ruck short of the line saw him pick and go, Stade threw all they could at him but his power and strength was unstoppable from that range.
Last weekend against Pau he showed what he can do with a traditional wing finish, holding the width after Benjamin Fall made a fantastic break down the centre of the field. He not only finished one but created a great try for Joe Tomane after a chip from the centre bounced into his sizeable mitts. He stepped in field and drew the last two defenders while releasing Tomane back down the touch line with a deft left-handed offload out of the back of his hand. Absolute class. Just 12 tries in all competitions this season for Nadolo.
Named Top 14 player of the season last term, Vito has had a massive impact on La Rochelle. He has continued in the same vein this campaign and played in both rounds seven and eight for his side. The first saw them beat Racing, a feat they had not achieved before. He was key in this performance and made some great carries as well as getting slightly lucky with a bouncing offload which led to a try.
His handling skills over the past few weeks have been fantastic to watch both in Europe and the Top 14 and he adds a huge amount to the La Rochelle game as a link between backs and forwards. He almost scored from a crossfield kick against the Parisians and was again key in every aspect of the game in a fantastic 37-21 win over Toulouse last weekend. Alongside Carl Fearns he has been one of the outstanding back rows in the competition and with the Englishman now gone for the season, who would bet against Vito for another player of the season trophy?