Aviva Premiership Team of the Week: Round 20

15. Mat Tait (Leicester Tigers)
Tait is looking increasingly at home in the Tigers no.15 jersey. One moment in the second half summed up the transitional phase of this position at the moment – Geordan Murphy, acting waterboy, passed on some words of advice with the bottle of water to Tait, who nodded and took it on board. If Tait is to be Murphy’s successor, the shirt is in good hands. He showed a superb range of skills against Wasps – delicate hands, dancing feet and an intelligent boot. Mention to Cameron Shepherd of Sale, whose finish was a silky one.

14. Niall Morris (Leicester Tigers)
Morris has become a real weapon for the Tigers, perhaps mainly because teams seem to massively underestimate him. Strong as well as deceivingly quick, the Irishman outshone his vastly more illustrious opponents on Sunday making 120 metres in a series of devastating carries.

13. Jonny Leota (Sale Sharks)
Sale all but confirmed their safety on Friday night with a comprehensive win that showed they have probably been better this season than results suggest. Leota bagged a try as the beneficiary of a charge down and then showed brute strength to cross the line when he had no right to, only for it to be ruled out by the TMO. Luther Burrell was in fine form for the Saints, too.

12. Tom May (Northampton Saints)
George Pisi would be a huge loss for any side, but Saints fans would quickly have forgotten his absence thanks to the brilliance of May at the Kassam Stadium. Two tries saw him glide through the London Welsh defence and set up a commanding win for his team. Anthony Allen was superb for the Tigers.

11. Dave Strettle (Saracens)
You can’t really argue with a hattrick in 22 minutes, can you? They weren’t all easy finishes, either, with the second involving some brilliantly balanced running. Turned provider in the second half to set up Ashton, too.

10. Ben Botica (Harlequins)
Botica made a real difference when he came on. Playing in combination with compatriot Nick Evans, it gave Quins more width to their game thanks to the second distributing option. Kicked well, including one well-placed bomb that led to the Monye try.

9. Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers)
Tough to ignore a Dwayne Peel brace for Sale, but Youngs was at his best on Sunday against Wasps. Two tries, showing opportunism as well as pace, combined with some sublime box-kicking means it was a top all-round performance from the man who is looking increasingly a shoo-in for the Lions tour.

1. Logovi’i Mulipola (Leicester Tigers)
It was startlingly obvious how the Leicester scrum began to capitulate after this man went off in the second half. A nuisance in the loose as well, following Marcos Ayerza’s season-ending injury it is vitally important that Mulipola stays fit.

2. Jack Yeandle (Exeter Chiefs)
Part of a super rolling drive that saw the Exeter pack to the brink of crashing over, and then offered himself as a strong runner to set the platform for Matt Jess to cross in the corner.

3. Brian Mujati (Northampton Saints)
Cornerstone of a Saints pack that was simply too strong for its London Welsh counterpart. A superb offload for a Burrell try after a barrelling break added sparkle to a typically powerful performance.

4. Ed Slater (Leicester Tigers)
What a season Slater is having. Another huge performance saw him carry strongly, tackle everything that moved and even win a turnover at the breakdown, demonstrating superb technique for a man who stands at 6’6″ and weighs in at over 18 stone. Must be pushing hard for a spot on the Argentina tour.

5. James Cannon (London Wasps)
In a game in which half of his teammates looked frankly uninterested, Cannon was a pillar of effort in a losing cause. One simply astonishing tackle on wing Niall Morris summed up the graft and commitment the young lock showed all afternoon.

6. Kelly Brown (Saracens)
A key cog in the Saracens engine that is starting to pick up ominous steam. As always, he tackled his heart out and also weighed in with a strong burst that set-up Strettle’s hattrick try.

7. Jacques Burger (Saracens)
A touch of sentimentality about this one, perhaps, but it was fantastic to see Burger back on the frontline for Sarries. A true warrior, it genuinely looked like he had never been away – certainly, you couldn’t tell he had been seriously injured, flying as he was into every tackle and getting stuck in at the breakdown. Welcome back, Jacques.

8. Jordan Crane (Leicester Tigers)
Seemingly the no.1 at Tigers ahead of Thomas Waldrom (whether rightly or not), Crane certainly excelled on Sunday against Wasps. He made 18 carries, but the most impressive thing was that many of those ended with a clever offload rather than heading straight to ground. A commanding performance at the back of a dominant pack.

By Jamie Hosie
Follow Jamie on Twitter: @jhosie43

11 thoughts on “Aviva Premiership Team of the Week: Round 20

  1. Burger was fantastic, and Strettle was outstanding. Could easily have been bundled to touch for his first try. Showed true pace and awareness for his second, and the third was easy.

    Also Tomkins’ offload for Stretts first try was superb!

  2. Nick Evans executed the “well placed bomb that led to the Monye try”, not Ben Botica. But good decision to pick Botica at 10. He was composed and accurate, he and Evans make a great combo.

  3. james cannon for lions captain.

    its been a while since the tabloids have had such an easy name to make headlines out of.

  4. Tait has been impressive recently. he is prone to the odd mistake (often pretty big ones) but overall he is still a class act. his versatility to play 15, 13 and wing will only come in handy. could be in with a shout of touring Argentina, as he will be “new blood” yet he has an experienced head. plus he has shown an ability to be a second distributor or kicker, which takes a lot of pressure of of a 10, but he can still be a threat with ball in hand too 9a balance that many england 15’s seem to lack at the moment).

    must also say that i have been HUGELY impressed with Slater recently. agree with all that was said about him, but must also add that he, combined with Tait, managed to make use of a 3 on 2 to create a try on the weekend (something a number of england backs should take note of).

    also Crane seems to be returning to being more of a footballing 8, which is good. Personally i like him starting more than Waldrom.

    Botica produced some really good play for quins, i would be interested to see if he gets a start at 12, as i think it could create some real room for quins.

    mention for Elliot Daly too. his try was exceptional. I think both he and Tait may have recently played themselves onto the Argentina tour (especially if someone like brown travels with the lions). With Manu a probable lion, i think Tomkins and Daly will be looked at for 13 in Argentina. and i think Tait would be unlucky not to get JJ’s spot in the EPS.

    been a bit disappointed with JJ recently, as he doesnt seem to be getting much time at irish, and his lack of games for england means he cant really be kept in on “credit in the bank”, so i would expect him to drop out of the EPS this time round.

    glad to see burger back too.

  5. Are you serious, Brian Mujati had it up him all day from young Tom Bristow, Welsh scrum pushed saints over 4 times for a pushover try. Dylan Hartley spent his afternoon kissing his knees with his feet off the ground. How have you come to this conclusion?

    1. Mujati wasn’t on the pitch for the push over try. And despite that, it was also when they lost a man to the sin-bin, so they had Burrell packing down on the flank.. If you watch the replay, he does a pretty bad job at adding his weight.

      Welsh didn’t show dominance in the scrum outside of that sin-bin period or when Mujati was still on. I think he’s a justified pick

  6. Just wanted to wax a bit more lyrical about how good Ed Slater has been really – to me he has been the standout English Lock in the Aviva this year, perhaps with the exception of Joe Launchbury (whose reputation has been largely built around his impressive adaption to the international game rather than pure domestic form). He (Slater)indeed should be a shoe in for the Argentina tour, but I would like to see him in the EPS squad – Palmer is 33 now and has served well but must be looking over his shoulder.

    As well as his suprising ball skills, Slater brings a more obvious physical edge to his game, and loking at the Wales Defeat in particular Lancaster must be worried about how his pack got bullied for want of a better word!

  7. Daly’s try was sublime. The step, turn of pace and swerve we’re all executed magnificently and seamlessly.
    James cannon is an interesting one. I think he would be an excellent blindside. Big, mobile and aggressive. Makes the yards carrying a lot of English sixes are lacking at the moment.

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