Aviva Premiership Team of the Week: Round 17

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15: Luke Arscott (Exeter Chiefs)
Fielded a bobbling ball and then ran it back too hard and fast for the shocked Harlequins defence. Danced his way around flailing defenders to cross for the try that sealed the most unlikely of victories for the Chiefs.

14: Tom Biggs (Bath Rugby)
Should have had a brace, but had to settle for one and a penalty try for his team. Showed outrageous pace to beat Charlie Sharples in a foot race, and then jinked his way to the line in the second half. Has stupid hair, but with finishing abilities the likes of which he possesses, who cares?

13: Kyle Eastmond (Bath Rugby)
Shifted out of position due to Bowden’s brilliance, Eastmond is rapidly becoming a high-class Premiership centre. In a ding-dong derby in the West Country on Friday night Eastmond showed fantastic finishing ability to round the last defender after some smart work from Heathcote.

12: Dan Bowden (Leicester Tigers)
Two assists from the midfield maestro who is starting to look at home in a Leicester shirt. His deft grubber through would have set Adam Thompstone up were it not for Brady’s illegal tackle, and a fizzing pass sent centre partner Matt Smith over for the bonus point try.

11: Jamie Elliot (Northampton Saints)
Got the ball rolling for the Saints will a smartly-finished try in the first half, bulldozing his way over some fairly meek Irish defence. His second showcased all his pace and in the dying minutes he showed good awareness and composure to latch onto Lamb’s chip and grab his hattrick.

10: Gareth Steenson (Exeter Chiefs)
An epic victory for the Chiefs at the Stoop on Saturday was masterminded by the Irish fly-half, who kicked his goals with aplomb and made sure his team played in the right areas of the pitch. Also showed previously unseen pace and fantastic footwork to make a couple of great breaks in the second period. Mention to Tom Heathcote who was equally superb for Bath.

9: Jonny Arr (Worcester Warriors)
Threw a couple of wayward passes in the first half but shored up later on, and darted over from close range for a vitally important try that saw the Warriors over the line and out of an alarming losing streak.

1: Soane Tonga’uiha (Northampton Saints)
The massive Tongan Tonga’uiha is never far away from the action, and capped an all action display with a well-taken try this weekend. Powering over from short range, he finished a well-worked line-out move that saw the Saints start to move away from London Irish.

2: Thomas Rhys Thomas (London Wasps)
It was ultimately a futile effort, but Thomas put in a massive shift for Wasps on Friday night, crossing the line twice but with the absence of a TMO only being rewarded once. A close call, which on another day could have seen Wasps to victory. Still, it was a top performance from the Welshman.

3: Matt Stevens (Saracens)
The best potbelly in rugby was throwing itself around again on Sunday, making headway into London Welsh. Saracens enjoyed dominance in the scrum and as always the tight-head must take a certain amount of praise for that.

4: Ed Slater (Leicester Tigers)
A brace is a brilliant effort by anyone’s standards, but for a second row it is even more impressive. The first one was all about power and the second showcased a beautiful, curving outside break that most centres would be proud of. An accomplished all-round performance from the lock.

5: Samu Manoa (Northampton Saints)
Was wearing six on Saturday, but really it makes no difference what number the giant American has on his back. He is a fiercely powerful ball carrier and was at the heart of a Saints pack that bullied their Exile counterparts into submission. Also dived over for a useful try. Mention to Damian Welch of Exeter who crashed over for at a vital time to take his side into the lead and ultimately to an unlikely victory against Quins.

6: Tom Croft (Leicester Tigers)
The rangy England flanker looked some way back to his best against Sale this weekend. A powerful tackle and subsequent pilfering of the ball led to the bonus point try, and he showed some neat touches around the park too. Starting to answer his critics who say he isn’t willing enough to get his hands dirty.

7: Will Fraser (Saracens)
This is a highly impressive player in the making. A big man, he is remarkably effective at the break down for his size. Add to that a well taken try and he contributed to a further torrid turn in the London Welsh story.

8: Blair Cowan (Worcester Warriors)
Worcester’s big Kiwi back-rower barged over from short range to cap some fine work from the Worcester pack after an powerful rolling maul. Cowan was to be found at the back of that, too, directing the ball to the line.

By Jamie Hosie
Follow Jamie on Twitter: @jhosie43

18 thoughts on “Aviva Premiership Team of the Week: Round 17

  1. I was at the Stoop on Saturday and I can’t stress how good Gareth Steenson looked. Quins were off the pace and gave Exeter a lot of ball; but Steenson was excellent. I hadn’t seen a lot of him until now but I’m now gutted that he is Irish.

    1. I was reading something earlier about Rob Baxter saying he could play for England, so I guess he qualifies under residency rules? Would he get in ahead of Farrell, Burns, Flood, Ford etc. though? I’m not sure.

      Deserves a shot for Ireland though, especially with the trouble they’re having in that position at the moment.

      1. Oh really I didn’t realise that. As I mentioned I haven’t seen much of him other than at the weekend; and on that performance he certainly should be around the Saxons camp at least.

        Interesting that you threw Ford in there as well. I am still waiting on him to prove himself. Is it official that he is off to Bath next year? As he needs to start playing week in week out to improve.

        1. He looked much better for the Tigers this weekend. I think it’s definite that he’s off to Bath, but to be honest Heathcote is playing outstandingly well at the moment too – better than Ford for my money. So ironically he may not get any more game time there either!

          1. Especially if Donald is still there as well. Although I would rather play Heathcote or Ford.

          2. Yeh I was secretly hoping for the past week that Wasps would sign him after Jones/ Robinson are both leaving but it seems we have signed Goode. Ford obviously has the skill base but he needs to be doing it regularly; so he will have to hope Heathcote loses form.

            I don’t really think Donald is a threat to either of those two players!

          3. Heard a rumour a while back that heathcote may move north so he plays his club rugby in Scotland, therefore helping his international chances. That would see ford get plenty of time

  2. Yeah, he can qualify for England under residency right now, but I can’t see him getting in ahead of the (proper) England boys, no matter how much I’d love to see him put on an England jersey!

    Definitely deserves a go with the Ireland team though, now they’re playing for nought but pride in the Six Nations.

  3. Thought that Tomkins might get in there. He was industrious again for Sarries, and took his try well. Him and Eastmond are knocking on the door for a call up. Could either one be in with a shout for uncapped Lions place?

    1. Eastmond could be a good shout. Not only is he playing pretty well, but his ability to play across the backs would be pretty useful for a tour like the lions.

      1. I would love to see Eastmond and Tomkins playing together in the centres. Eastmonds line-breaking ability combined with Tomkins vision and handling could be lethal.

  4. I didn’t expect Biggs to gas Sharples. Can’t argue with the hat trick guy taking the slot, but an honourable mention deserved for Biggs.

    Agree with Dazza Re Tomkins.

    Did anyone see how Foden went? Is he looking sharp enough for a call up yet?

  5. Nice too see that croft has been rewarded by being called into camp to train with England for the week. He seems to have proven his fitness and form to warrant having been included in the EPS in the first place. It would be nice for him to get a run, but then again I would like to see billy v get a run against Italy too. Tough call, as I don’t think any of wood, Robshaw or Haskell should be dropped from the 23. Could we maybe see crofty used as 2ndrow/backrow cover? With lawes missing out?

  6. Here’s my shout at an interesting England for the Argentina tour – presuming there are no Lions contenders in there:

    1. M. Vunipola
    2. T. Youngs
    3. H. Thomas
    4. G. Robson
    5. G. Kitchener
    6. C. Clarke
    7. M. Kvesic
    8. B. Vunipola

    9. L. Dickson
    10. F. Burns
    11. J. May
    12. K. Eastmond
    13. J. Tomkins
    14. C. Wade
    15. E. Daly

    16. M. Mullan
    17. P. Doran-Jones
    18. J. Gray
    19. E. Slater
    20. W. Fraser
    21. J. Simpson
    22. G. Ford
    23. M. Yarde

  7. I can’t see Croft getting a spot on the bench – I think this call up is giving an attaboy to Croft and saying that he’s still in the fold. Billy Vunipola is next in line for England, so I’d expect a Haskell, Robshaw, Wood back row with Vunipola on the bench, coming on for Haskell for the last half hour against Italy.

    I’m assuming Vunipola will start and I’d also think this might be a chance to play 12trees and Tuilagi in the centres.

    1. I think you are right. And as much as croft playing 2 games back to back is good, not only would this be a 3rd game, but it is a test match against Italy, who are well known for being physical (having said that most teams are pretty physical now).

      Agree that it would be nice to see 36 and Manu, and with flood at 10 you know it isn’t a huge risk, as they have all played together for tigers. Plus barritt is going to need a rest before Wales.

      Ashton has to be dropped, but I don’t know who for. I don’t think strettle is the right choice, but that leaves foden, and a back 3 of 3 fullbacks (so two makeshift wings) is not ideal. Then again the amount that Italy kick, it could be a stroke of genius.

  8. I think Lancaster has played his cards this week to out pressure on Ashton, but I don’t think he’s going to drop him because, as you so rightly point out, we don’t have a clear cut replacement, and assuming england beat Italy, they need him against Wales – he probably won’t want to throw in a wing who has barely played with the team.

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