RaboDirect PRO12 Team of the Week: Round 4

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15. Sean Maitland (Glasgow Warriors)
The “kilted Kiwi” was making his first Pro12 appearance of the season after returning from the British and Irish Lions tour of Australia. He didn’t look to have missed a step, with some intelligent offensive play, and typically accomplished handling. Provided both assists for Byron McGuigan’s tries, the second via well-weighted grubber kick.

14. Alex Cuthbert (Cardiff Blues)
Another Lion, the powerful Cuthbert showed both his brawn and pace in attack, standing up Rob Kearney, and powering his way up the touchline to score a brilliant solo try. He almost added another moments later, but Kearney this time was able to bring him down inside the Leinster 22. The Welshman will, however, be disappointed with his missed tackle on Ian Madigan leading to the fly-half’s try.

13. Brian O’Driscoll (Leinster)
On his return to the Pro12, the great man showed no signs of rustiness with the sort of classy performance we have come to expect over the past thirteen years. A constant threat in attack, his running lines and distribution were as astute as ever, providing both impetus and assists for several of Leinster’s tries on Friday night.

12. Luke Marshall (Ulster)
The Ulsterman has been in fine form in the opening rounds of the Pro12, and added to his impressive early-season outings with another notable performance. He made a number of dangerous line breaks from inside centre – a key feature of his game – and was on hand to take a nice offload from full-back Jared Payne to go over for his own try.

11. Byron McGuigan (Glasgow Warriors)
Two well-taken tries for the Warriors’ wing helped his side to victory on Friday night. The first was a run-in courtesy of good hands from Gabriel Ascarate and Sean Maitland, and the second a neat take and finish from Maitland’s deft kick through.

10. Ian Madigan (Leinster)
New signing Jimmy Gopperth had impressed with his early-season form, but Madigan staked his claim to the number ten jersey with an excellent all-round performance on Friday night. He controlled things from the pivotal position, releasing a dangerous set of outside backs, and kicking well from hand and at goal. A deft “show-and-go” late on saw him beat the tackles of Lions Cuthbert and Leigh Halfpenny, and bag himself a five-pointer.

9. Tito Tebaldi (Ospreys)
The Ospreys’ scrum-half has enjoyed an excellent start to the season and his career at the Welsh region. On Saturday, the Italian scorched the Sportsground turf with a superb solo try – his first for the club – and secured his side a bonus point. His distribution was largely slick throughout, and he showed typical tenacity both in attack and defence.

8. Samuela Vunisa (Zebre)
The Kiwi number eight showed some wonderful handling skills in attack, frequently popping up in midfield to cause the Warriors defence problems. His try was borne more of power and tenacity than outright skill, but he provided a lovely assist for team-mate Leonardo Sarto to scoot over and salvage a losing bonus point for the Italians.

7. Chris Henry (Ulster)
Ulster’s openside has been in fine form in the opening Pro12 fixtures, and continued in the same vein on Friday night with some great work in the loose. His carrying caused the Treviso defence plenty of problems, particularly around the fringes, and he demonstrated some nice handling skills to set up Michael Allen’s try.

6. Peter O’Mahony (Munster)
The Munster skipper turned in his best performance of the season so far, grabbing a try in his side’s dominant victory over the Dragons. He took his opportunity well, diving over the whitewash to capitalise on Welsh indiscipline, and was a menace at the breakdown from the blindside flank.

5. Ian Evans (Ospreys)
The Lions tourist is known for his dynamism around the field, and his excellent bullocking first-half run led to a try for Richard Fussell, and laid the foundations for a solid all-round performance. He worked hard at the breakdown, and carried well during his side’s heavy victory.

4. Devin Toner (Leinster)
The Leinster second row was a constant presence in the loose, making plenty of good carries. His mobility and work-rate saw him appear with ball in hand all over the pitch, and make inroads into the Cardiff defence in Friday night’s open affair.

3. Samson Lee (Scarlets)
Powerful scrummaging from the Scarlets tighthead added to a sound evening’s work at Murrayfield on Friday night. Caused Alasdair Dickinson plenty of problems at the set piece, and offered a good carrying option in the loose – particularly round the fringes of the breakdown.

2. Sean Cronin (Leinster)
The powerful Leinster hooker turned in a solid performance against Cardiff Blues on Friday. His throwing was secure, and he worked hard in the loose – particularly with ball in hand, making plenty of carries. He gathered Brian O’Driscoll’s pass to romp in from fifteen metres, and set the tone for an excellent evening’s work.

1. James Cronin (Munster)
A powerful try for the Munster prop capped an accomplished all-round performance in his side’s victory over the Dragons on Saturday evening. He was solid in the scrum, and showed up very well in the loose with a number of strong carries that caused the Welshmen problems.

By Jamie Lyall (@JLyall93)

Photo by: Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images

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5 comments on “RaboDirect PRO12 Team of the Week: Round 4

  1. Criminal that Michael Allen isn’t in this team. Two tries (would have been three but for an unlucky foot in touch as he was going over the try line) and was putting in great tackles all night long. What more does he have to do to impress you?!

  2. I couldn’t see past the Ospreys front five right now for best of the weekend. Another crushing performance by them all.

    Cuthbert’s try was amazing. Pity the ref wasn’t up to the job in this match (and no, this isn’t Poite style abuse, this is just pointing out that if he’d been up to the job and hence we’d got to 20-20 in the 2nd half then it might been a different game – Leinster still class though so we weren’t robbed, but denied the chance to push hard for a win).

    What’s happened to Rob Kearney? Every time he got tackled the toys were out of the pram. He seems to have turned into “How dare you tackle me! Don’t you know who I am! I’M ROB KEARNEY, LION!!!”.

    • I agree broadly with your appraisal of the ref (Mitrea), Brighty.

      The protocol is there to allow review of these incidents, and his decision to blow for the knock-on (regardless of whether it was correct or not) sits in stark contrast with his overuse of the TMO in the Ospreys-Embra game last week!

      The TMO aspect is very much about striking a balance between referees retaining the crucial decision-making onus or “skill”, and the capacity to review and check try-scoring plays, foul play etc if necessary.

      • Yep – and if he’d been right next to it I’d have given him the benefit of the doubt. But to be so sure it was a knock-on from twenty yards back, on a lightning fast break, at a critical point of the match.

        As one of the Blues players said to me yesterday – all of this “good performance” lark pleases nobody. Winning is what it’s about so it just goes down as another Blues loss, not a plucky performance away in Ireland. Time to start chalking up some wins now.

        Phil Davies – how has he managed to have such a coaching career? Scarlets, Leeds, Worcs. Apart from spending bucketloads to get Leeds promoted (remember them?) he’s achieved nothing and will continue to do so at the Blues. What’s wrong with the Blues right now is structure and patterns. Our players are fine, they just look like a defensive line is something they saw once in a video from the 70s and never looked at it again.

        • I’m a Scot – no need to describe to me the “gallant losers” tag, or “good performance” lark as you put it!