ESPN's European rugby review: Player of the weekend, flop & more

Leinster and Saracens fans were smiling this weekend as domestic honours were secured, while Castres set up a mouthwatering Top 14 final in Paris next weekend.

But who shone, who had a weekend to forget and what will fans be talking about ahead of a busy period of domestic action?

Player of the weekend

Johnny Sexton (Leinster). In Bilbao, the Ireland fly-half had something of an off-day and Leinster were forced to toil en route to a fourth European Cup success. At the Aviva Stadium on Saturday evening, meanwhile, Sexton was at his sublime best -- as he had been when the Scarlets were beaten in the Champions Cup semifinal in Dublin -- and Leinster controlled the hour or so he was on the pitch comfortably. It was his deft hands that set up James Lowe for the crucial second try with regular time long over at the end of the first half, while Sean Cronin would not have had the chance to scamper over from five yards had his playmaker not produced an outrageous touch-finder. In between times he dictated play with ease as Leinster nulified the Scarlets threat until it was too late. Alex Goode and Mako Vunipola deserve an admirable mention too having each played pivotal roles in Saracens' defeat of Exeter at Twickenham.

Flop of the weekend

Joe Simmonds (Exeter). Chiefs coach Rob Baxter admitted after his side's Premiership final defeat to Saracens that the match would serve as a crucial lesson to the younger members of his squad. No one would have learned more from a chastening experience at Twickenham than Simmonds. His rise this year has been meteoric. He had not started a match at fly-half in the Premiership this season until March, yet quickly asserted himself as Exeter's No. 1 playmaker ahead of last year's hero Gareth Steenson. But on Saturday very little went right for him. There were a few nice touches of the ball early on, however, the pressure moments went against him. He shanked a ninth-minute penalty -- that would have given Exeter a 6-0 lead -- badly wide and then missed touch by a distance as they Chiefs attempted to kick for the corner and maintain their early spell of domination. The two incidents help alleviate the pressure on Saracens, who accepted the gift ruthlessly.

Biggest coaching call

Mark McCall deserves great credit for the way that Saracens attacked the challenge in front of them on Saturday. It would have been easy for heads to drop following a 12-minute period in which Exeter dominated possession and territory, especially considering the Chiefs had won the previous three meetings between the two sides. However, Saracens had clearly done their homework and would have realised that for all the ability that Exeter possess behind the scrum, they do not always convert territory into tries. By contrast, Saracens scored with their first meaningful attack and from their on in they dominated the Chiefs to claim victory almost at a canter by the end.

Biggest refereeing call

Wayne Barnes (Exeter vs. Saracens). Victory for Saracens at Twickenham brought a fitting end to the careers of two club legends as Schalk Brits and Chris Wyles signed off in style. Wyles contributed fully to the club's fourth Premiership crown as he scored two of his side's four tries on Saturday. Brits, too, had an impact on the game but it was one he would have hoped to avoided when he trotted onto the Twickenham turf to replace hooker Jamie George in the second half. Within seven minutes the South Africa was trudging back off after Barnes had waved a yellow card in his direction. Yet in some ways, seeing Brits sin-binned was as fitting a finale as watching Wyles diving into the corner.

Storyline to keep an eye on...

With domestic duties done and dusted in both the Premiership and PRO14, attention switches to France and the Top 14 final in Paris next Saturday. Those attending the Stade de France will not have a hometown team to cheer on as might have been expected after Castres continued a postseason of upsets by beating Racing 92 at the Groupama Stadium on Saturday. Castres have made it to the last weekend of the season the hard way, having snuck into the playoffs by just two points. Once there though they have made the most of their opportunity, beating Toulouse and Racing in the process, and will arrive in Paris next weekend battle hardened from two huge performances. Top seeds Montpellier have enjoyed a more sedate run to the showpiece, but they will fancy their chances of bucking the recent trend. Vern Cotter's side barely gave Lyon a sniff on Friday night, cruising to a 48-14 win. It should be a cracking final.