Heineken Cup Team of the Week: Round 5

george north

15. Jean-Marcelin Buttin (Clermont Auvergne)
Buttin is enjoying his time as starting fullback, and after showing promise for a while now, is finally realising it. He is a player that seems to have plenty of time on the ball, and he used it all to bag an assist against Harlequins, while also linking brilliantly with those around him. Mention to Ulster’s Jared Payne, who was as dangerous as always.

14. George North (Northampton Saints)
This is what Northampton paid their money for. In a relatively even battle, North’s individual brilliance to race the length of the pitch gave Northampton a lead they just had to protect for the rest of the game – and that is exactly what they did. Superb stuff from the big Welshman.

13. Mathieu Bastareaud (Toulon)
There wasn’t really a standout performer at 13 this weekend, but Bastareaud enjoyed a solid outing for Toulon as he made the most of plenty of opportunities to crash over the gainline.

12. Remy Lamerat (Castres)
Castres will be wondering quite how they managed to lose that game after racing to a 14-0 lead, but it certainly wasn’t anything to do with Lamerat’s performance. He played an important role in both of his side’s early tries as Castres flew out of the blocks, and ended the afternoon having beaten a monumental nine defenders.

11. Kristian Phillips (Scarlets)
Completing an all-Welsh wing duo, Phillips was another to score an inspirational individual effort over the weekend. Like North, his try for the Scarlets effectively confirmed victory for his side in a tough away environment. Mention to David Smith, who was brilliant for Toulon.

10. Jimmy Gopperth (Leinster)
Gopperth’s was undoubtedly the performance of the weekend, as he inspired Leinster to a captivating comeback against Castres. Twice, he jinked and danced his way to the line, and was also ruthless with the boot to confirm an important victory for his province. Mentions to Rhys Priestland and Jean-Marc Doussain, who were both vital in victories for their sides.

9. Danny Care (Harlequins)
Not all aspects of Care’s game were excellent at the weekend (some of his box kicking was dangerously wayward to Clermont’s brilliant back three), but purely for the moment of utter brilliance in Matt Hopper’s try, he makes this team. The speed of thought, and execution, are unparalleled in anything I have seen for quite some time. Ruan Pienaar went quite well for Ulster and deserves a mention.

1. Andrew Sheridan (Toulon)
It was brilliant to see Sheridan back doing what he does best, namely twisting and contorting his opposite man into horrible positions in the scrum, and reaping the benefits of it on the scoreboard. Part of a Toulon unit that was just too powerful for the Blues.

2. Chilliboy Ralepelle (Toulouse)
Toulouse’s was a performance worthy of their glowing European heritage on Sunday against Sarries, and their South African hooker put in a huge shift to help them to victory. 15 tackles is a stat indicative of his insatiable work rate.

3. Samson Lee (Scarlets)
Against a much-vaunted Racing M├ętro pack, the wild-looking Welshman was superb in helping the Scarlets pack exert dominance over them. Also got through a tidy amount of work in defence.

4. Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints)
Lawes continued his fine form in Swansea with another performance brimming with power. There were a couple of notable carries, but more important were his contributions at the breakdown and line-out, where he snaffled opposition ball and secured his own team’s on several occasions.

5. Paul O’Connell (Munster)
‘Presence’ is something often talked about by players/coaches (see Rob Penney this weekend) despite being anything tangible to pundits/fans. Even those watching on, however, can see the influence O’Connell has on Munster, and he again gave every ounce of himself to the cause as the Irish province booked their knockout spot with a win over Gloucester.

6. Yannick Nyanga (Toulouse)
Part of a brutally brilliant back-row that went a long way to winning Toulouse the game, and with it gave them a great chance of bagging a home quarter final. Produced four brilliant offloads out of the tackle, and made two turnovers at the breakdown to ensure Sarries never really looked like coming back into the game.

7. Jordi Murphy (Leinster)
Worked hard to get himself on the end of what turned out to be a vital try for Leinster, taking the game far enough out of Castres’ reach that despite a late fightback they could not wrestle the points away from the impressive Irish province. Also tackled his heart out and was always busy with ball in hand, returning 42 metres from nine carries.

8. Louis Picamoles (Toulouse)
Toulouse’s pillar in the back row was at his best yesterday, and appears to be hitting some fine form at exactly the right time (from a French point of view, anyway). He carried sixteen times against Saracens, for a return of fifteen metres, and didn’t miss a tackle all afternoon. Mention to Jamie Heaslip and Robin Copeland, who who both carried seriously strongly.

By Jamie Hosie
Follow Jamie on Twitter: @jhosie43

Photo by: Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images

6 thoughts on “Heineken Cup Team of the Week: Round 5

  1. Can’t believe you’ve gone for Care. Rest of it I can agree with.

    I know you’ve pointed out the box kicks but surely, as a 9, getting the basics right is your first job. One offload (however impressive it was), can’t excuse some of his play. On another day he could have directly given two tries away.

    If that is the best the Heineken Cup has to offer in terms of 9s this weekend then it is not a great sign for NH rugby. Webb looked very good for Ospreys, from the games I saw I’d have gone for him.

    The Toulouse back row was phenomenal, the second half in particular they slowly ground Saracens down.

  2. I’d disagree. Robson kept Gloucester crackling against a Munster pack that had worked up a head if steam. His box kicking and basics were excellent and his defence was exemplary, dragging Gloucester back after some kicks through caused chaos. Something that’s difficult to do on the back foot. Richard wigglesworth and co, who are touted as form players for the six nations, were made to look very average behind a Saracens pack in reverse. Toulouse had too much and picamoles was everywhere on the pitch. Sarries constantly lost the collisions, being knocked back time and again by a ruthless Toulouse defensive line.

    1. They will still be some of the form players in England and the Premiership come the 6N, but Toulouse were that much better. Beware the French come the 6N because their top players are looking very dangerous, and if they carry on in this form for France……………….?

  3. Would be interested to hear how a couple of players got on in the matches I missed: Luke Cowan-Dickie getting a start at hooker for Exeter and Jonny May playing at 13 for Gloucester? Can anyone catch me up?

    1. I thought May was quite impressive at 13. He seemed to be a good link man when the Gloucester backs got going, and a couple of times looked very threatening but for last ditch tackling.

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