Aviva Premiership Team of the Week: Round 20


15. Ben Foden (Northampton Saints)
It was a busy performance from Foden, who popped up on the ball on numerous occasions against London Irish and always looked dangerous, beating six defenders for 106 metres made.

14. Josh Drauninui (Worcester Warriors)
It wasn’t a vintage weekend for wingers, and so Drauninui’s brilliance for Worcester saw him top most of the stats. He beat an incredible 11 defenders, on his way to making 121 metres with ball in hand from just 11 carries. It is too little too late for Worcester now, but this guy has been a shining light in a losing cause on too many occasions.

13. Matt Banahan (Bath)
This was Banahan back to his best, a sight we see with increasing rarity these days. He rampaged with ball in hand, using all his bulk to make inroads over the gainline and ending with 87 metres made.

12. Sam Tuitupou (Sale Sharks)
Much has been made of Cipriani’s form this season but huge credit must go to the experienced Tuitupou outside him. He always seems to be in the right place at the right time, and has the ability to cut some beuatiful running lines, all of which was in evidence agains the Chiefs, and saw him come away with a brace.

11. Tom Varndell (London Wasps)
Just as we hoped, it was an open game at Twickenham on Saturday. It could not have suited the returning Tom Varndell any better, as he galloped down the wing time and again to return an impressive 105 metres made, including a try.

10. Danny Cipriani (Sale Sharks)
With Andy Farrell watching on, Cipriani ran the show in what was one of the team performances of the season so far. Superb in attack, it was the way he brought others onto the ball and put them in spaces that so impressed, rather than any show-boating individual brilliance. Another mature performance.

9. Danny Care (Harlequins)
It was billed as Care vs Youngs for the undisputed number one spot as England scrum-half, and there was only one winner. The Harlequins man, as he so often does, injected pace and zip into their attack and caught flat-footed Leicester defenders unawares on several occasions.

1. Nathan Catt (Bath)
A promising performance from one of England’s best young propping prospects. Catt was busy in the loose, completing eight carries, while also looking solid at the set piece.

2. Dave Ward (Harlequins)
Ward has had an incredible season, and it continued against the Tigers. He is not a big man but his work rate is simply insatiable – on Friday night he tore around the park, carrying ten times for an impressive return of 61 metres.

3. Kyle Sinckler (Harlequins)
A debatable one, this. Penalties were awarded in Sinckler’s favour on Friday night when most – apart from referee Tim Wigglesworth – could see that the Quins man was in fact at fault. But then, if you’ve pulled the wool over the referee’s eyes, who cares? Sinckler was also a handful around the park in a promising showing from a young English tighthead.

4. Stuart Hooper (Bath)
A captain’s innings from Hooper, who barged his way over the gainline when given the opportunity and put in a stirling effort in defence, topping his side’s tackle charts with 12.

5. Michael Paterson (Sale Sharks)
This was a huge performance from Paterson, who carried the ball an astonishing 18 times, beating seven defenders (more than anyone else on the pitch) in the process. A handful of those came in his try, when he made his way to the line through a forest of defenders – superb stuff.

6. Sione Kalamafoni (Gloucester)
Forming the start of what would be a terrifyingly large back row, Kalamafoni was a constant thorn in Wasps’ side at Twickenham on Saturday afternoon. The giant pacific islander carried on an astonishing 17 occasions, usually to good effect.

7. James Haskell (London Wasps)
A brace for his efforts was just reward for another consistently good outing for the Wasps back-rower. He finished his side’s second top tackler and was generally a nuisance around the park.

8. Nathan Hughes (London Wasps)
An immensely powerful outing from a player who is rapidly becoming one of the stars of the season. The Fijian powerhouse smashed his way over the gainline time and time again, and had the presence of mind to offload more often than not.

By Jamie Hosie
Follow Jamie on Twitter: @jhosie43

Photo by: Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images

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

  1. Sinckler had a tough time against Leicester, but lets not forget that he’s only been playing first team rugby since February. That Leicester front row should have battered Quins without Marler, but didn’t until the second half.

    He’ll learn from that and push on and will grow stronger as he gains experience.

    He was good in the loose, and deserves a mention i think.

  2. A few weeks ago I said that Cipriani and Haskell could warrant places on the England tour if they kept up good performances, so far so good. From what I’ve seen from them recently I’d be happy for them both to play if the play-offs make the shirt-holders unavailable. Would maybe worry about Cipriani not playing with anyone familiar, but a partnership of him and Care looks very exciting.

    Anyone think Ward is in with a shout too?

    1. Ward is definitely in with a chance, best number 2 in the loose by far. Paterson should be packing his bags ad well, in a good way!

  3. Got to feel quite a few of those named are on course for England call-ups this summer. Care is a given; Foden, Cipriani and Haskell could all be in line for recalls and Catt, Ward and Sinckler could help cover front-row injuries/unavailability.

    I’d say Marler and Mullan will start the tour with Mako joining them (possibly late). Catt may be the next in line, given Corbisiero’s continued absence.
    1 or 2 of Hartley, Youngs and Webber could be late to join the tour, in which case Ward could get a call-up from the Saxons.
    If Cole isn’t fit and/or gets a much needed rest, we have Wilson (who could arrive late) and Thomas as our only two options. Doran-Jones may come into consideration as a capped alternative, but Sinckler could be the more adventurous pick here.

    In the back row Haskell should go ahead (or possibly as well as) Kvesic. Same for Cipriani over Burns. Foden is a good option to cover the whole back 3.

  4. I think Sinckler offers more than PDJ.

    I always wince when a scrum is awarded and PDJ is on the pitch.

    Ward is one of the more outstanding players this year. He could be a bit of a wildcard for the NZ tour and a bit of unpredictability for the AB’s to deal with.

  5. Really impressed with Nathan Hughes – what a player he is! Only 22, and didn’t touch a rugby ball until he was 16. Real talent.

    Wasps back row is look very strong. In fact, with the signing of Lorenzo Cittadini (just announced), and Bradley Davies joining Launchbury in the engine room; our pack suddenly looks very competitive.

    Cipriani must tour NZ now, and Haskell should only be behind Wood/Robshaw is regards to back row selection.

    1. Agree with your assessment of Haskell. I remember hearing in the commentary for the Wasps game this weekend that he has the highest tackle count per minute of game time in the league this year. (I may have heard that wrong).

      Also saw that Dai Young called the Stinger a celebration of Wasps coming out of a “dark period” for the club. With a fully fit XV, I think they can be challenging again.

  6. At 10 would have been accurate to mention how well another EQP – Shane Geraghty played in a losing cause for Exiles at Saints.

  7. Does anyone know when the 7th place Euro play off game (or games) will take place? Just curious to know if England could potentially be without the likes of Haskell and Launchbury for the 1st test.

    1. I didn’t even consider that! If Wasps were playing in a play-off and Leicester & Northampton make the final- we would be without Launchbury, Lawes, Parling and Slater- 4 of the 5 locks to have trained with the test team in the last 2 years. Atwood would suddenly be very important.

      Could really test our strength in depth for a few positions…

    2. It’s most likely to be Wasps vs Stade Francais, although Toulouse or Castres could drop into the 7th place in the T14. As none of these 4 teams are involved in the Heineken Cup, nor will they be involved with their domestic playoffs I imagine it will be played on either the weekend of the 17th (domestic semi-finals) or 24th (HC final weekend).

      1. Wasps are still in the Amlin, the semi-finals of which are this weekend. If we win at home to Bath, then we’ll be playing in that final on the 23rd May.

        Has there been no announcement on the the play off date? Could it end up being pre-season? Or will it definitely be end of season?

  8. Not mentioned above, but on the subject of No3s, the young Cooper-Woolley at Wasps seems to be coming along rather well. has he ever been around any England set up?

    I assume that he is English?

  9. C-W is English, became Welsh qualified with his time at cardiff uni and the cardiff blues. He was due to play in the saxons game, but had to miss it through injury.

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