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

This week's European action was not restricted to the continent as the Aviva Premiership visited Philadelphia, and the PRO14 was played on South African soil for the first time. Work remains to be done on both fronts given the size of the crowds that witnessed Saracens' defeat of Newcastle and Leinster's victory over the Southern Kings. However, those who did attend this weekend were treated to some enthralling rugby.

Who caught the eye, who had a game to forget, and what will we all be talking about ahead of the next round of fixtures?

Player of the weekend

Prem (Martyn Thomas): David Ribbans (Northampton). Saints halted Bath's impressive start to the season on Friday, suggesting in the process that their opening day humiliation at the hands of Saracens was nothing more than a blip. At the heart of their victory was a barnstorming performance from second row Ribbans, who scored a try either side of half time and had a hand in almost everything good that Northampton did.

PRO14 (Cillian O Conchuir): Makazole Mapimpi (Cheetahs). The Cheetahs went toe-to-toe with Zebre for the opening 50 minutes and Mapimpi was instrumental in securing the South Africans' first league win. At 11-0 down, the Cheetahs ran a Zebre kick chase back from deep inside their own half, with Mapimpi finishing it off from 50 metres out. He then gobbled up a neat kick through to put the South African side into an eight-point lead that they never relinquished.

Top 14 (James Harrington): Damian Penaud. Ali Raka may have scored a hat trick in Clermont's eight-try demolition of Brive but it was the 20-year-old son of former French international fly-half Alain Penaud who stole the show. The inside centre, who's only getting an extended run due to Wesley Fofana's long-term injury, was a two-try unstoppable force in attack and an immovable object in defence for every second of the hour he was on the pitch.

Flop of the weekend

Prem: Wasps. Take nothing away from a resilient Harlequins performance, but for the second successive weekend the hosts were just not at it. Wasps, who welcomed Elliot Daly back, missed the calming presence of Jimmy Gopperth in midfield. Danny Cipriani will not look back at his afternoon fondly, while James Haskell let the emotions of his own return get the better of him. That they could have won highlights the quality of their squad but Dai Young will know work needs to be done.

PRO14: Take your pick. The admin error which prevented Isa Nacewa and Jamison Gibson-Park lining up for Leinster in South Africa, Richard Cockerill's Edinburgh losing to Treviso and the Cardiff fan who attempted to throw his pint over an official all came close. But the winner is the Southern Kings, who managed to attract only a handful of supporters to their first league home game against Leinster. The Cheetahs, by contrast, offered free tickets and got people in through the turnstiles.

Top 14: Brive. Another week, another big defeat for the basement club, who have now conceded 135 points in four outings, scoring 36 in reply. They managed only six to Clermont's 62 in the 100th Clermont-Brive derby this weekend, and -- one disallowed try aside -- never looked like challenging their hosts' try line. Four matches into the season is too early to hit the panic button, but nervy fingers will be hovering closer to it this week.

Best coaching call

Prem: Tim Visser has scored 17 tries in 28 Premiership games since joining Harlequins in 2015. It is some statement, therefore, for rugby director John Kingston to ignore the Scotland wing so far this season. Luckily for Kingston, Charlie Walker has started the season on fire. The 24-year-old scored his third try in as many matches at Wasps on Sunday and his high-energy performance epitomised all that was good about Quins.

PRO14: The Treviso defence was immense in the final minutes of their victory over Edinnburgh. With Cherif Traore and Alberto De Marchi both in the sin bin as the clock ticked towards 80 minutes, Edinburgh were camped on the Italians' line. The hosts threw everything at them -- five-metre scrums, driving mauls and eventually, spreading the ball wide -- but they were met by a defensive masterclass.

Top 14: Pau coach Simon Mannix was holding Colin Slade in reserve for the visit of Castres on Saturday. But, with the score 6-13 in favour of the visitors at half time, he threw the All Black into the fray for Julien Fumat a minute after the restart. It was inspired. Slade marshalled the hosts to 22 unanswered second-half points and a second home win of the season.

Biggest refereeing call

Prem: Andrew Jackson (Wasps vs. Harlequins). Jackson was refereeing just his seventh Premiership match, and it showed in Coventry as players battled to get an advantage. His biggest call came following some grappling between James Haskell and Joe Marler. Haskell lost his cool, grabbing Marler around the neck, and can have few complaints with the yellow he received but the Quins prop should have walked with him.

PRO14: David Wilkinson (Edinburgh vs. Treviso). Wilkinson's decision not to award a penalty try despite giving scrum penalty after scrum penalty against Treviso on their own line was a deciding factor in their win at Edinburgh. With Alberto De Marchi sin-binned, the game went to uncontested scrums, and Richard Cockerill was right to suggest that his pack would have pushed their opponents over the line had they been allowed to.

Top 14: Tual Trainini (Racing vs. Oyonnax). Nevermind that Racing 92, who boasted more than 600 international caps in their starting line-up against Oyonnax, made a complete mess of what should have been a five-point walk-in-the-park. They were less than impressed when Mr Trainini denied them one final shot at a bonus point when he refused to give a penalty deep inside Oyonnax's 22 following what looked awfully like a deliberate knock-on by Axel Muller after the hooter had sounded.

Storyline to keep an eye on...

Prem: Expansion into the U.S. The sea of empty seats at the Talen Energy Stadium on Saturday night was not what Premiership Rugby CEO Mark McCafferty would have wanted after he revealed the league was considering involving teams from America in the Anglo-Welsh Cup. The contest failed to spark into life too amid humid conditions, but Rome wasn't built in a day. The U.S. remains an attractive market and the paltry attendance in Philadelphia just highlights the scale of the task ahead.

PRO14: Bernard Jackman has been quite vocal in his criticism of how his Dragons side had been run prior to his appointment. As his side ended a run of 11 straight defeats in the league, it will be interesting to see how Jackman will develop his Dragons squad. The Welsh region has not finished in the top four since the first two seasons of the competition.

Top 14: The Johan Goosen saga. He has not played since walking out on Racing 92 in November, 2016 and returning to his native South Africa, amid controversy and legal turmoil. Articles about him have appeared sporadically since, but speculation has ramped up recently amid rumours that Montpellier's billionaire boss Mohed Altrad may be willing to pay up to €1.5 million [£1.3m] to buy him out of the remainder of his five-year deal in Paris.