Aviva Premiership Team of the Week: Round 19

15: Alex Goode (Saracens)
Looked back to his best. Assured under the high ball and seemingly with all the time in the world with ball in hand, Goode was everywhere. Put in a couple of measured chips behind the defence, one of which led to the late Ashton score (via some fortune and poor defending). Mention to Mat Tait, who had his best game in a Tigers shirt to date.

14: Charlie Sharples (Gloucester)
The Gloucester flyer and somewhat forgotten man of English wingers put in a timely reminder of his capabilites against Harlequins on Friday night. Twice he scorched down the right wing, too quick for his opposite numbers, and one of these breaks lead after a couple of phases to the try that set the ball rolling for Gloucester’s comeback from Jonny May. Niall Morris was also superb for the Tigers.

13: Manu Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers)
Richard Cockerill, a man conservative with his praise at the best of times, said this was the best he has ever seen Tuilagi play. That says everything you need to know about how good Tuilagi was. Not just as destructive as ever with ball in hand, he was sensible in defence (making the customary big hits but also aligning himself well and winning turnovers) and there were even a couple of passes. The most complete performance yet from the giant centre.

12: Anthony Allen (Leicester Tigers)
The hugely underrated centre was once again outshone by his more illustrious centre-partner, but the role he plays in Leicester’s midfield is no less important. Tackles hard, gets over the gain-line and generally gels the midfield together. Could have had a try, too, were it not for a cynical slap down by Courtney Lawes.

11: Semesa Rokodoguni (Bath)
Scorer of one try, architect of another, this was sublime stuff from the Fijian flyer. He cut a beautiful line off Donald to slice through the Welsh defence before stepping round the full-back without a finger being lain on him, before later collecting the ball from the restart, charging 60 metres (beating four men in the process) and offloading for Agulla to score. Jonny May and Christian Wade always look dangerous.

10: Toby Flood (Leicester Tigers)
What a masterstroke it has been from Cockerill in giving Flood the captaincy. After a disappointing Six Nations defined by few opportunities and the failure to take them when they did come along, Floods looks galvanised by the chance to lead his club. His goal-kicking was, as always, superb, and he chose his moments to attack the gain-line more sensibly this week. Great game management all round from the elder statesman of the Leicester back-line.

9: Haydn Thomas (Exeter Chiefs)
Scampering and harrying until his late substitution, Thomas epitomised the fighting spirit that dragged Exeter over the line at Sixways. It wasn’t always pretty, but he did make a darting half-break to set up half-back colleague Steenson for an easy run in.

1: Marcos Ayerza (Leicester Tigers)
On his day he is one of the best loose head props in the world. Part of a Tigers pack that not only put up with their much-vaunted Saints counterparts but completely silenced them, Ayerza showed that he has the brain of a centre with a beautiful take and give to draw two men in the build up to Tuilagi’s first try.

2: Rob Buchanan (Harlequins)
Given his chance ahead of the usually-preferred Joe Gray, Buchanan did not disappoint. It was to be futile in the end, but his try was excellently taken. After eying up a mismatch with centre Henry Trinder in front of him, Buchanan barged his way over the top and held off straggling defenders to make it to the line.

3: Halani Aulika (London Irish)
Aulika has made a habit of scoring tries this season, but he is unlikely to ever have scored one as good as he did against Sale this weekend. Charlie Amesbury will have nightmares about the way the tighthead prop rounded him with such ease on his way to the try line, having picked an opportunistic hole around the ruck to burst through.

4: Ed Slater (Leicester Tigers)
Slater’s performances of late have been nothing short of sublime. Against fierce rivals the Saints he was everywhere, making tackles as well as yards in attack. Part of the line-out unit that conspired to make it a torrid afternoon for Hartley and company. Croft may have been the official MOTM but this man was equally as deserving.

5: Dean Mumm (Exeter Chiefs)
Baby-faced Mumm was part of a Chiefs pack that was at times overwhelmed by Worcester, but ultimately had the last word. He crashed over from short range to silence the home crowd and secure a valuable four points for his side as they continue to chase European rugby next year.

6: Tom Croft (Leicester Tigers)
He is back. For Tigers, England and Lions fans there are few greater sights than Croft galloping away from defenders and that is exactly what he did time and again on Saturday. He was also typically imperious at the line-out – along with Geoff Parling the Tigers have the framework to dominate any team in that area.

7: Julian Salvi (Leicester Tigers)
Not normally as obvious as his back-row mates, this weekend Salvi was not only a nuisance at the breakdown but also with ball in hand. He made several obvious breaks, and very nearly bagged himself a try on a couple of occasions. He was, as always, a handful at the tackle area, contributing to a tough afternoon for the hapless Saints back row.

8: James Gaskell (Sale Sharks)
If the tackling and organisation on show must have had defence couches tearing their hair out (Shaun Edwards excepted), Gaskell’s display with ball in hand would have had attack coaches purring. He looks to have bulked up a bit, and his recent employment as a no.8 is a shrewd move – several strong carries and ensuing offloads were proof of that.

By Jamie Hosie
Follow Jamie on Twitter: @jhosie43

10 thoughts on “Aviva Premiership Team of the Week: Round 19

  1. Iam taking the liberty of adding villain of the week to Andy Goode, for taking on the physical shape of Matt “the barrell” Stevens. Goode seems to get fatter every week. It said it all this week when in ITV4’s Premiership highlights the camera seemed to zoom in on Goode’s growing belly as if in disbelief! Shocking!!

    1. Give him some sideburns and thin him out on top and he’ll pass for Andy.

      His creativity at the weekend just reinforces my view he’s a 10, not a 15. If he stays a 15 I hope he can apply himself in the same way Brown has done and improve his pace, shifting 10lbs of fat will make him quicker for starters!

      1. I was actually talking about Andy not Alex. But agreed it would be nice to see Alex Goode play some time at 10. But he’s spoken about this previously and says he feels settled now at 15. He’s not likely to get any time at 10 until Hodgson retires, and he’s on great form so not likely just yet.

  2. Roko deserved the pick at 11 and hopefully will start at 13 on Saturday. Could be eligble for England in time for rwc 2015

  3. In the modern day multi-cultural and diverse society it doesn’t really matter. Tuilagi closes his eyes and puts his hand his heart whilst signing the national anthem and gives his all for england.

    Rokoduguni is a reconnaissance tank soldier of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards in the British Army and should already be eligble for England if Lancaster is looking for a better candidate for the ‘ashton’ role. Could even be the Lions wildcard at this rate, Gatland is coming to Bath this weekend….

    1. The fact that he’s a soldier in the British Army should answer any questions over eligibility that anyone may have.

      Of course, he should then be equally eligible for England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland!

      1. As he is in the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards he may go for Scotland, but to be honest he is probably being scouted by the EPS and could tour with England this summer if he doesn’t get a wildcard Lions selection?

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