Aviva Premiership Team of the Week – Round 19

Sione Kalamafoni

1 – Alec Hepburn (Exeter)
This one is a very close call between Hepburn, Ellis Genge and Beno Obano (all three potentially going to South Africa in June) with Genge destroying opponents in the scrum, Obano being a massive force in defence. However Hepburn for me was simply outstanding at the weekend, crashing the ball route 1 time and time again, bagging a try and providing the pass for Woodburn to score.

2 – Schalk Brits (Saracens)
Luke Cowan-Dickie had a solid game, but this South African international, who has been a warm and humble presence on the rugby field for some years now, was the class hooker this weekend by some distance. Got a try to his name in a tight opening half and added to that with a try assist as he always looked a threat ball in hand with 23 metres made. World Rugby as a whole is going to miss this guy when he hangs up his boots at the end of the season.

3 – Nick Schonert (Worcester)
I’m a big fan of Schonert and when fit he is surely up there as one of the Premiership’s best tightheads. On Saturday he had another dominating performance where he did the hard graft in the tight and showed up in the loose, making 26 metres in open play which is a considerable stat for a prop. This was rewarded when he ran onto the ball to bundle over the line to get his side’s 2nd score.

4 – Bryn Evans (Sale)
The former All Black definitely showed his experience on Friday night where he kept his side within contention as he charged down Dan Robson’s kick and gathered it superbly to dot down over the whitewash.

5 – David Denton (Worcester)
I’m moving Denton to lock where he can play in order to accommodate Ross at blindside. Denton was crucial for the Warriors as they beat Newcastle to keep the gap between them and London Irish healthy. Smashing defenders out of the way into his wake, he was simply too powerful for Falcons to contend with, grabbing two tries as he crashed over the whitewash from close range.

6 – Jono Ross (Sale)
The Sharks captain was instrumental to Sale’s last minute victory over Wasps and was the man of the match in a robust performance where he carried the ball 17 times and made hard yards every time. His big carry was crucial in giving time for flyhalf MacGinty to cross-field kick.

7 – Max Northcote-Green (London Irish)
A huge part of the Exiles’ morale-boosting away win over Harlequins that means that relegation is no certainty just yet. Overall he made 10 tackles and didn’t miss a single one and did the hard yards in attack with 10 carries into the fore. This hard work was rewarded when he finished well in the corner.

8 – Sione Kalamafoni (Leicester)
He has plenty of criticism hurled at him by Tigers fans that he isn’t big and powerful enough but I’ve always appreciated the absolute mountain of work that he gets through each game. And on Saturday, he completely outclassed his opposite number Faletau with a lot of ball-carrying and bundling over for his 1st try from the ruck and showing some fancy footwork and grit to score his 2nd. In total he managed to rack up a mightily impressive 54 metres in what was arguably his best performance in a Tigers shirt.

9 – Piet van Zyl (London Irish)
A mid-season signing that has added spark and ignition to the Premiership strugglers’ cause. He scored one try on the end of a Tom Fowlie scything break and grasped a difficult bouncing ball in mid-air to score his 2nd try. I hope he stays longer at Irish because he has become a quality acquisition.

10 – AJ McGinty (Sale)
The American international was a defining factor in Sale’s last minute win over Wasps. His wonderfully judged cross-field kick enabled Byron McGuigan to score and his long floated pass to Sam James for Marland Yarde to score the winning try was top-notch.

11 – Sean Maitland (Saracens)
Coming off the back off a very decent Six Nations from Scotland, Maitland has been one of Sarries’ best players in recent weeks and against Northampton he continued that form to great effect. He made the tryscoring pass to Lozowski for the opening score, dotted down well in the corner to score his own try and his footwork made sure that he always made metres in attack.

12 – Alex Lozowski (Saracens)
I have moved Lozowski from outside centre (where he played against Northampton) to accommodate Fowlie. Neither position is Lozowski’s best position but Saints’ woefulness didn’t make that matter as he scored one deliciously crafted try and assisted in another. A defence that had given up after halftime thus allowed Lozowski to become tricky to stop with 74 metres made ball in hand and 4 clean breaks, one of which set up Chris Wyles for arguably the Try of the Round.

13 – Tom Fowlie (London Irish)
Another essential cog to Irish’s surprise victory over Harlequins, his agile break lead to teammate Van Zyl scoring the bottom-placed side’s 1st try, made 25 metres, tackled 9 times successfully and provided the key pass for Northcote-Green to score.

14 – Jack Nowell (Exeter)
Rushed into action early because of injury to Sam Hill, this didn’t faze the Lions tourist in the slightest as he raced over the whitewash after receiving a pin-perfect pass from Joe Simmonds for his 1st score. He then slithered through two defenders to burst clear from halfway to score his 2nd. Great comeback from the winger and if he keeps it up then I think his place is safe on the tour to South Africa.

15 – Liam Williams (Saracens)
On his birthday and in his 1st Premiership appearance as a starting fullback, the Wales & Lions test fullback made it sweet as he played his part in (another) hammering of Northampton at the hands of Saracens with a try assist and racing through untouched to gather an Owen Farrell punt kick to score a try.

By Jacob Bassford

18 thoughts on “Aviva Premiership Team of the Week – Round 19

    1. Have you got anything to back that up?

      As an Exeter fan I would be gutted to lose him, one of the best Exeter players IMO

      1. I hope so. On club form it would be hard not to take him, but we know how much that means to EJ.

        It’s odd, given how poor our breakdown was in the 6N, to then feel like we’re spoilt for choice on the flanks but Underhill (when fit), the Currys (when fit!) and Willis are looking good. Simmonds, Mercer and others also in the mix, that’s going to be a cramped plane to SA if the more established guys aren’t given a rest/dropped. Feels like a good time to go for some younger blood and see what they can do.

        I’m not overly keen but I imagine EJ will be thinking about Shields, Rhodes and Ross down the line as well.

  1. Didn´t see London Irish, but van Zyl must have been good if he played better than Faf du Plessis for Sale. Aggressive, lively and a great organiser of his forwards he is also as hard as nails and has been a really good acquisition.

    1. Faf du Plessis making a switch from Cricket to Rugby Union? Interesting.
      de Klerk was quality though, a well rounded 9.

      1. I think the point was that he can leave defenders in his wake after having smashed them, but semantically it is quite difficult to smash defenders in his wake given that the wake is generally behind…

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