RaboDirect Pro12 Team of The Week: Round 8

This Weekend saw the RaboDirect Pro12 teams play without many of the top home nation stars as they are with their respective national teams preparing for the Autumn Internationals. Some of the sides managed to maintain their consistent start to this season, while others severely felt the loss of their international talent.

15: Richard Fussell (Ospreys)

Once again Fussell was Swansea’s man of the moment, helping the Ospreys clinch a vital home win against a tired and lethargic Leinster. Fussell was the difference, slicing open the Leinster defence on countless occasions, and setting up the decisive try following some quick thinking and skill to clear a path for another top performing player, Eli Walker, to glide over unchallenged.

14: Tommy Seymour (Glasgow)

Continuing on from last weekend’s double try haul, Tommy Seymour collected another brace in a match Glasgow never really looked like losing. Seymour was clinical and at the top of his game helping to record the Warriors’ record-setting sixth straight RaboDirect Pro12 victory.

13: Jared Payne (Ulster)

Ulster went into their match with Edinburgh on a eight match unbeaten run which stretched across all competitions. The outstanding centre, Jared Payne exhibited hunger, desire, skill and deserved his two tries from the contest. He latched onto some excellent play from the likes of Pienaar, Jennings and Craig Gilroy to put in a dominating performance.

12: Casey Laulala (Munster)

The strong Samoan returned to haunt his former club as his last minute try got the visitors a hard-fought win. The contest was a fairly even affair with both sides pushing hard for the victory, but it was Laulala who burst through some poor tackling by the Blues to go over for the decisive try. He displayed aggression, power and skill in a match which desperately needed game-winning performances from individual players.

11: Tom Brown (Edinburgh)

Although the scoreline does not indicate an even contest, the travelling Edinburgh side went toe-to-toe with the home team in one of the more entertaining Pro12 match-ups. Brown played with poise and his customary tenacity en route to bagging a brace in a terrific performance which deserved more. Brown was the main attacking weapon on offer for the Scottish side as he pounded up the wing like a possessed stallion, rampaging up the sidelines keeping the hosts busy all game.

10: Ruan Pienaar (Ulster)

The skilful South African kicked six conversions and got himself a try to register another dominant performance for last year’s Heineken Cup finalists. The experienced flyhalf continued to demonstrate┬áhis worth to the Northern Irishmen with some commanding vision and powerful defence in a match which maintains Ulsters unbeaten start to this seasons Pro12 competition.

9: Nikola Matawalu (Glasgow)

Making his first start for Glasgow, the strong Fijian displayed a greater hunger and urgency than most of the Dragons side put together, with a man of the match performance. Matawalu impressed throughout the contest with some neat passing and outrageous sidesteps to help Glasgow to victory and more importantly maintain a six game unbeaten stretch for the Warriors. Who want to go all the way in new head coach, Gregor Townsend’s, first full season.

8: Tommy O’Donnell (Munster)

O’Donnell put in a sterling man of the match display to help record an important victory for Munster. The imposing No.8 bagged two well worked tries in an effective performance to help keep Munster in the hunt for a top four finish. O’Donnell worked hard in and out of the tackle, constantly disrupting play which Cardiff had no answer for.

7: Shane Jennings (Leinster)

Jennings worked hard in a match which could have gone either way, he disrupted the flow of the match not allowing the Ospreys a moment’s peace. Jennings put in a performance which merited more than just a handshake at the end of the match, he gave the Irishmen a chance, breaking the rhythm of the Welsh attach while being a rampant hunter in defence.

6: Dave O’Callaghan (Munster)

The match was error ridden, without any flow and contained far too many mistakes, however, Munster’s O’Callaghan was the exception as he helped his side on their way to a well fought victory. The determined flanker controlled the breakdowns well, imposing his athleticism, skill and hunger throughout the match.

5: Billy Holland (Munster)

The strong Munsterman helped the Irish provence record only their second away win this season with a solid performance in the pack. Holland was tenacious in defence, constantly snuffing out the Blues attack, never allowing them to maintain possession for more than two phases. He held the Munster pack together, leading with a perfect example of how to play and own the second-row position.

4: Tom Ryder (Glasgow)

Ryder helped inspire a great effort from a Warriors side who equalled their best ever stretch of matches with a sixth win in a row. The Glasgow pack dominated the match with some excellent control and power with Ryder at the centre of the Glasgow engine room, driving the big beast forward every chance he got. Ryder was everywhere in the contest, at the breakdown, in defence and in attack, forcing the Dragons into making easy mistakes which the Scots turned into easy points.

3: Joe Rees (Ospreys)

Rees worked hard in a match which many felt Leinster would waltz, following last weekend’s performances. But despite the pre-match predictions, Rees and the Ospreys matched Leinster blow for blow in a fairly even contest. The big prop imposed himself early on with some excellent scrums and bone-crunching tackles, while facing a far bigger Leinster pack. Rees put in a world class performance showing a determined never-back-down attitude.

2: Nigel Brady (Ulster)

The Ulster captain put in a big performance for the Northern Irishmen to maintain their huge unbeaten run this season. Brady led by example in a contest which was dominated by the hard working forward packs. Brady urged his teammates forward with every last ounce of breath and energy, and displayed perfect leadership and some inspiring play.

1: Gordon Reid (Glasgow)

Reid dominated in a game which his Glasgow side never really looked like losing. The powerful prop helped put the Scottish side up in the first half following some excellent build-up play. Reid picked-up from the base of the ruck just outside the Dragons 22 to burst through under the posts just after the half hour mark to give Glasgow a 20-6 lead going into the break, and they never looked back.

By Alex McLeman