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Fly-halves to the fore as European adventure begins

Johnny Sexton

No.10s past, present and future were all on show this weekend as European rugby returned for the first time this season.

Johnny Sexton, fly-half for all three Tests of the 2013 British & Irish Tour, made a try-scoring return for Leinster while 2017 tourist Dan Biggar kicked perfectly from the tee for Northampton and young guns Finn Russell and Adam Hastings also impressed.

KEYS TO NO.10

Warren Gatland will have some big decisions to make in 2021 when it comes to the fly-half position for his touring party against the Springboks.

Owen Farrell was not in action this weekend, still rested after his World Cup exertions with England, but in his absence a number of others caught the eye.

Sexton in particular impressed, scoring a try and playing a key hand in Garry Ringrose’s hat-trick as Benetton were swatted aside at the RDS.

Sexton even made a searing line break of his own before swapping passes with Josh van der Flier for a second-half score.

It will be hard to look past Sexton going on a third successive Tour if his body holds up but there are other candidates pushing hard.

FINN-ISHING STRONGLY

Finn Russell was called into the 2017 touring party as a late replacement at the end of the Tour but the Scotland fly-half will want to be there on merit in South Africa.

His form since moving to France with Racing 92 has blossomed and he put Sarries to the sword on Sunday night at La Defense.

Racing were rampant and Russell’s dummying and offloading started and finished the best score of the afternoon in the second half to take the game away from the defending champions.

Also on Sunday, Biggar returned for Northampton Saints after Wales’ World Cup exit and looked like he had never been away.

In front of the Franklin’s Gardens faithful, Biggar slotted seven kicks from seven for a 20-point haul as Lyon’s second-half fightback was quelled.

Meanwhile Adam Hastings, Russell’s compatriot and rival for the Scotland No.10 jersey, was man of the match as Glasgow just about held off Sale Sharks at Scotstoun.

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