Heineken Cup Team of the Week: Round 2

lawes
15. Liam Williams (Scarlets)
Another youthful cog in the exciting Scarlets backline, Williams was excellent in attack and counter attack, making 10 carries and gaining precious yards for his side against Racing Metro. Mentions go to two England fullbacks, Alex Goode and Ben Foden, who were instrumental in their sides’ performances.

14. Chris Ashton (Saracens)
Friday night saw Chris Ashton show glimpses of old, with great support play and plenty of pressure on the Toulouse defence. Good vision and hands to set up Chris Wyles’ try and unlucky not to get on the scoreboard himself.

13. Casey Laulala (Munster)
Probably Munster’s most threatening player in attack, Laulala looked exciting every time he got the ball and his footwork constantly threatened the Gloucester defence. Made one clean break and beat four defenders.

12. Scott Williams (Scarlets)
Another good week for the impressive 12. He scored again, his passing and footwork looked sumptuous and his defence was solid. Looks set to continue his partnership with teammate Jonathan Davies at international level. Another Welshman, Cory Allen, deserves a mention.

11. Andrew Trimble (Ulster)
The Ulsterman scored a lovely try at Montpellier and constantly came off his wing to worry the defence. His defence was great and he managed two turnovers to help his side record an impressive victory. A mention to Perpignan speedster Wandie Mjekvu who came off the bench to score twice.

10. Paddy Jackson (Ulster)
Montpellier away is no easy place to win and Jackson put in an experienced performance to keep his side on top. He ran the show and made eight tackles, which is impressive for a fly-half. Dan Parks ran him close with 23 points for Connacht.

9. Ruan Piennar (Ulster)
Another Ulsterman on the list but five penalties from the South African kept the scoreboard ticking over and his passing and organisation of the forwards was world class. Rhodri Williams scored again and Rory Kockott played well for Castres.

1. Cian Healey (Leinster)
The Lion was the cornerstone of the scrum that caused Castres so many problems and he carried well in the loose. He provided the platform for Jimmy Gopperth to control the game around him.

2. Rory Best (Ulster)
“Stop naming Ulstermen” I hear you cry! Well Ulster recorded the victory of the weekend and the experienced hooker’s performance was one of the reasons why. Consistent in the set pieces and made 15 tackles to nullify any sign of a Montpellier attack.

3. Census Johnston (Toulouse)
The big Samoan came back with a vengeance to haunt his old team, giving Mako Vunipola a horrible time in the scrum and flying around in the loose, making ten huge tackles. Made Matt Stevens look average at best.

4. Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints)
The performance of the weekend from the man who is England’s most in-form lock at the moment. The go-to man in the lineout and showed that there is more to his game with a clever little pass for Christian Day’s try. Will surely be giving the Ospreys players nightmares for weeks to come after constantly smashing their attack back.

5. Christian Day (Northampton Saints)
Lawes’ partner-in-crime, Day put in an understated yet just as impressive performance. Made a number of turnovers and scored a try. Munstermen Paul O’Connell and Donncha O’Callaghan deserve to be mentioned.

6. Justin Purll (Perpignan)
Perpignan flew out of the blocks in the second half to send Edinburgh home with their tail between their legs and the experienced Frenchman was at the centre of it, making a nuisance of himself at the breakdown. Managed to score himself a try too.

7. Tom Wood (Northampton Saints)
Another Saints player with physicality in abundance, Wood was dominant in attack and defence, making yards and turning over ball. Just one of a few players giving Stuart Lancaster a selection headache at the moment. Sean O’Brien also played well for the second week in a row.

8. Thomas Waldrom (Leicester Tigers)
It seems Number 8 was the position of the week with Robin Copeland and Gillian Galan both being standout players for their sides, but Thomas Waldrom terrorised the Treviso defence with such ferocity that he has to be included. Scored a try and made 18 carries for a total of nearly 80 metres.

By Calum Gillon (@C_Gillon)

Photo by: Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images

30 thoughts on “Heineken Cup Team of the Week: Round 2

  1. “Made Matt Stevens look average at best.”

    Matt Stevens is at best average and in truth a terrible excuse for a rugby player. He was walking round the pitch from about the 10th minute. How he gets in ahead of Census’ little brother is ridiculous. How he made the Lions tour is absolutely confounding.

    1. I didn’t understand the Sarries logic “We can’t compete with the biggest tight 5s in Europe, so we ‘ll recruit one of the biggest tightheads available ….. and not pick him against a giant Toulose pack”, doesn’t make any sense, especially as Brits is the size of a fullback.

  2. The Saints kick off/restarts were quite deep kicks, Lawes’ pace was incredible.

    Mr. Lancaster, that’s how we want to start a game on 02/11. Find where Cooper is standing, kick it to him and have Lawes obliterate him.

  3. Lawes and Wood were unbelievably good at the weekend. Still think Parling/Launchbury is a better option with Lawes coming on. Wood looks incredible as well.

    I didn’t actually watch the Blues vs Toulon game; but did none of the Blues players do enough to get in here? Some of them must have been doing something right?

    1. I did wonder about the lack of Cardiff players when having a look before publishing… But I didn’t see that game either so can’t really comment. Sounds like it was very much a team performance, which often doesn’t translate so well to a format like this. Copeland probably pretty unlucky not to make it, from what I’ve heard. I’d expect Brighty to be along shortly with a suitably long list of complaints…

      1. Yeh I assume that mush have been the case; incredible result. I must admit I thought it was a joke when my mate told me. Very impressive.

        I am sure we will hear from Brighty at some point soon…

      2. didn’t see the Cardiff game either, but according to my brother, it wasn’t pretty and the conditions suited Cardiff perfectly.

        As the game wasn’t televised (nor even the correct highlights shown), I can understand why there were no Glasgow players in the selection. Though Tyrone Holmes got the man of the match, I (along with the guys I sit with) thought Josh Strauss was excellent at 8. Didn’t take a step backwards and took some stopping!

        At one point Glasgow had Matawalu, Weir, Jackson as their 9, 10, 12 combination – probably the best combination of skill sets I’ve seen in a long time!

        1. I must admit I heard a lot of good things about Tyrone Holmes and he was in the mix but because I was unable to watch, I went for Wood

          1. Don’t get me wrong, Holmes did play well, and is a good addition to the squad, just felt strauss contributed more to the game!

  4. I did watch the Blues v Toulon game (it’s the Chiefs’ group!) and it was an incredible result, but that’s really all it was, in honesty. Toulon threatened a lot in the first half, getting pulled back for a forward pass by TMO, denying a try… after that the weather really started hammering the game and it made handling a nightmare. So basically, no-one really stood out and Blues managed to come away with the result.

    What stood out more was how badly some played… Patchell for Blues, for instance, was flaky even before the weather started affecting the game. His handling was bad, his kicking from hand was bad… it wasn’t a pretty game to watch, that’s for sure!

    1. Exactly the reason why I didn’t include any Cardiff players. Copeland played well but wasn’t as dominant as Waldrom

      1. Can’t agree with that. Copeland was magnificent and put the lid on Masoe/Armitage. Fatty Thomo overpowered the Treviso backrow, I do think you have to take the quality of the oppo into account. Further, if you’re not going to give the 8 slot to Copeland then it has to go to the Toulouse 8 Gallan (spelling?) who was a frighteningly large, powerful and skillful young lad, constantly punching holes through Saracens.

        Also decent shouts for Warburton who was smashing and bothering at every ruck, disrupting clean possession for Toulon (witness the cockup from Mich at the end which gave Blues the try scoring position). Bradley Davies didn’t take a backward step against Lobbe/Botha. Christiano Day ahead of him is quite funny, especially with the “understated” comment. Bradley was anything but understated against that massive Toulouse pack.

        On the whole though I can understand why no large Cardiff presence in this XV as it was a team result – with the exception of Copeland who outshone every other eight who played this weekend.

        Toulon threatened a lot in the first half? Given I was down the Toulon end in that first half and my memory, my photos and my videos indicate most of the game was played down that end I’d have to disagree. The Toulon disallowed try (and rightly so, it was a forward pass that made it) was against the run of play at that point.

        The game was an arm wrestle long before the rain kicked in. There was a deluge for the middle period but the last 20, including the try, were played in glorious sunshine on a pristine pitch. Blues shut Toulon down. Not sure how rain suits Cardiff anyway – our class is in our backs/backrow really, it’s Toulon who would have ground out a wet win with their massive pack, if it was “conditions suiting” rugby.

        Patchell had a mixed game but I would disagree that the kicking out of hand was bad. Time and again his up and unders were coming down perfectly a yard outside the 22 (I’m more or less in line with the 22) and our follow up was then causing Toulon all sorts of problems. He fluffed some passes and his two drop goal attempts went nowhere (attempts he was criticised before but I know for a fact that the coaches specified that they wanted such attempts taken whenever possible).

            1. Yep, a Leinster reject who went to Rotherham and now at The Blues. I suspect Leinster might want him back now.

              1. From a Leinster point of view we’re happy to see him do well but we have too many high quality back rows to want him back

                1. I hope that remains the case J. He’s only young so I hope he gets even better in the next few years.

  5. Thought Lawes was astonishingly good, and as a Leicester fan it really hurts me to give a single word of praise to a Northampton player, but wow. He’s added some intelligence to his game to temper the blind aggression, a bit more discriminate about when to fly up and smash and when to just check himself and make certain of the tackle. Also nice hands. Think he’s a starter for the AIs now, Launchbury off the bench.

    Also think Mike Brown deserves a mention for a brave effort agianst Clermont, a good weekend all round for English fullbacks it seems!

  6. Interesting selection to say the least, we can all agree there is one glaring absence. No Sean O’Brien. Initially I went through the 7 stages, denial taking the vast majority of the grief process.

    Then it struck me. The author must have had other things on his mind whilst penning this article, namely the ball sack of the Aviva Premiership on his forehead.

    As you chowdown on the Premiership ‘exploits’ and shift that gear stick into ‘Sky Hype Machine’ please remember to pop in the other eye from time to time.

    1. Whilst I haven’t watched the Leinster game; Wood was immense on Sunday and more than justifies a shout for the team.

      Also, there are four Premiership players in this team so I’m not sure what you’re rambling about? There’s also 9 Rabo players…

      1. If you haven’t watched the Leinster game your opinion is null and void. Much like most commentators emerging from the Aviva.

        Craig Doyle must be eliminated.

        1. My opinion that Wood was immense on Sunday because I didn’t watch the Leinster game? That seems like a silly comment. Didn’t say Wood was better, just said he played incredibly well so however well O’Brien played I can see why Wood got in. Let’s remember this team is the Authors opinion, not fact. No matter how well O’Brien played, I can completely see how this Authors opinion was that Wood was the best 7 this weekend. Feel free to disagree without abusing the author.

        2. Karl, Wood was top tackler and top source of lineout ball. He was a beast around the ruck. It was up there with his MotM performance against the ABs last autumn.

          From the games I saw I would have O’Brien and Wood in at 6 and 7, but I couldn’t choose O’Brien over Wood.

  7. Well i’ll swim against the tide here, as I don’t think that the big Toulouse No8 was all that good.

    Yes, he was big and strong, but I think he stood out more because of this than anything else. I appreciate that he tired, but I really thought that Picamoles picked up the game when he came on.

    Don’t recall who it was but there was another enormous No8 on show against Wasps on thursday night – for Bayonne I think.

    1. Well done to Christian Wade for bringing that man down, he was conceding almost 10 stone!

      I thought Galan was an absolute freak. I don’t look at Billy Vunipola’s performances and think “lacks physicality” but Galan brushed him off like a small child.

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