Aviva Premiership Team of the Week: Round 22

15: Geordan Murphy (Leicester Tigers)
Murphy has been absent from the starting line-up at Tigers for a while now, and while he lacks the pace of years gone by there was plenty of the old sparkle on show against London Irish. A delectable inside flick to Mat Tait for his try was simply brilliant, and as he passed him the ball he was perhaps passing on at the same time something he has owned for so long – the Tigers fullback berth.

14: Nick Scott (London Welsh)
Finish of the week undoubtedly goes to Nick Scott, with a 70m burst down the left-hand touchline that left defenders trailing in his wake. Quite how he beat so many men in so little space is astonishing. There was of course the obligatory brace for Christian Wade, but to put him in this spot every week would be boring, wouldn’t it?

13: Henry Trinder (Gloucester)
Helter-skelter doesn’t really begin to describe what we witnessed at Sandy Park on Saturday afternoon, and young centre Gloucester centre provided one of the moments of the match with a superb solo effort. Intercepting the ball on his own 22, he danced his way around two defenders before sprinting away to the line. Mesmeric.

12: Owen Farrell (Saracens)
An eventful afternoon for Farrell saw him score a try, penalty and two conversions while also receiving a yellow card for a high tackle. In incredibly tough conditions, however, Farrell kicked as well as could be expected, and also managed to get over the line for a try, which doesn’t happen too often.

11: Marland Yarde (London Irish)
There hasn’t been much to shout about for London Irish and their fans this season, but this young winger is one they can certainly be proud of. Another superb solo effort at the weekend saw a combination of searing pace and precision footwork leaving Tigers defenders flailing in the dust.

10: Gareth Steenson (Exeter Chiefs)
Freddie Burns was at his mercurial best for Gloucester, but there was only one fly-half who won the game for his team on Saturday at Sandy Park. As the commentators rightly noted, most of the time Steenson seems to have the ball on a string, and seeing as his side were outscored five tries to three it was his boot that once again saw them over the line. Super stuff from a man who must surely be pushing for Ireland honours.

9: Neil de Kock (Saracens)
General-like stuff from the old stager of scrum-half play in the Premiership. Comfortably had the better of countryman Claasens, controlling the game with all the experience built from years in this competition. Also showed superb awareness to send Ashton over for the opening try.

1: Mako Vunipola (Saracens)
Mako showed his worth once again with a superbly finished try that would have had most wingers purring with delight. He then threw one of the offloads of the season, only to see it ruled out for a marginal forward pass. There’s still work to be done in the scrum, but if he gets that right he will be quite a player.

2: Rob Buchanan (Harlequins)
Super strength from the young English hooker to barrel his way onto the bottom of the post after some neat build-up play from Luke Wallace. Also showed good hands in the build-up to Casson’s try. Could find himself in Argentina this summer, ironically vying for the shirt with the same man with whom he does that week in week out at club level, Joe Gray.

3: Davie Wilson (Bath Rugby)
It wasn’t enough to get a win, but at times the Bath pack certainly had the upper hand over their vastly more illustrious Saracens opponents. Wilson put his hand up for summer tour selection with a strong showing in the scrums and several gain-line-breaking bursts in the loose.

4: Dean Mumm (Exeter Chiefs)
Opened the scoring in a quite astonishing game of rugby at Sandy Park, showing a keen awareness and no little pace to pop up on Shoemark’s shoulder to crash over. The Aussie has had a fine season, and almost crossed the line for a second shortly after.

5: Damien Welch (Exeter Chiefs)
Completing an all-Exeter engine room is the man who has had an astonishing end to the season. Relatively unknown outside of Exeter until a few weeks ago, he has hit some superb form and was again exemplary against Gloucester, popping up in the wide spaces to score and create while also forming part of an impressive pack that steamrolled their way to a penalty try.

6: Tom Croft (Leicester Tigers)
Croft’s inclusion in the Lions squad raised a few eyebrows given his lack of game time this year, but he is looking in fine form as the tour approaches. As the grounds harden up towards the end of the season he really comes into his own, and showed his great pace and ability to cut an impressive line to score again at the weekend.

7: Dan Braid (Sale Sharks)
Braid is mainly in this team for the greatest piece of opportunism seen for quite a while on a rugby pitch. As the ball sat on the Wasps line with scrum-half Simpson waiting to clear, it appeared to trickle out and Briad wasted no time in taking advantage to dive over and dot it down. Wasps were bemused as to how he wasn’t offside, but the try stood.

8: Richard Baxter (Exeter Chiefs)
It is tempting to say this is a bit of a sentimental pick, given what Baxter has contributed to Exeter, but in reality his performance was excellent enough to warrant a spot in the team anyway. Consistently broke tackles in barnstorming charges through the Gloucester defence, and made a nuisance of himself at the breakdown to pinch a couple of turnovers – no mean feat for such a giant man. Baxter’s inclusion means the team is bookended by two true club legends – a fitting way to end the regular season.

By Jamie Hosie
Follow Jamie on Twitter: @jhosie43

6 thoughts on “Aviva Premiership Team of the Week: Round 22

  1. Vunipola showed some true class to finish his try, and the ever so close offload to Ashton was sublime, even if it was forward. Could put Jenkins or Healy on the bench for a starting Lions spot if he carries on in this form. Likewise Stevens was industrious in his carrying and tackling in the loose, and I’m a little surprised to see you’ve chosen Wilson? Although he was solid also.

    And anybody who though Farrell has no pace, watch his try!

    1. Vunipola was unlucky to have that offload judged forward as it was clearly thrown backwards, which I thought was how these tight calls were supposed to be adjudicated. If he keeps this up I think he’s got a good chance of making the test bench.

      It was good pace from Farrell, I hope he keeps making progress in that department, particularly acceleration over 10m.

      1. Have to agree with both, Farrell showed good pace. I think he also showed he isn’t a slouch when he tracked across to tackle North in the 6Ns. My preconceptions have been disproved a bit about his speed.
        Definitely agree that he needs to keep upping it, and especially over the 10m.

        Mako has been very good. I think he is living up to all the hype that came out of Sarries.

  2. Think Buchanan is a great prospect, as well as being a physical presence I’m amazed by his pace. Not sure his darts are ultra reliable yet, but hopefully he’ll get there. Certainly hope he tours.

    1. He seems to have a good understanding of the game too. His try was evidence of good knowledge of the laws, seeing as he dived for the post.

      He is strong, speedy and aggressive. Fortunately line outs are the easiest thing for him to practice and improve. I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets a shot in Argentina (although Gray and Webber will probably get them first)

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