RUCK’s Team of the Week: Ashton, Brookes, Steenson
After two weeks of European duty, clubs returned to domestic action with players from the Aviva Premiership, Top 14 and Guinness Pro12 putting in eye-catching displays over yet another exciting weekend of rugby.
But who were your stand-out performers? After much debate here is our final selection – do you agree? Comment below.
Fullback: Gaetan Germain (CA Brive)
The 25-year-old Frenchman starred at fullback as Brive thrashed Oyonnax 34-9 away from home. The former Racing man racked up a massive 24 points, through a try, two conversions and five penalty goals, as Brive held on to their place in the Top 14’s top five.
Wing: CHRIS ASHTON (Saracens)
Former Wigan RL man Ashton was at his flying best as Saracens romped to a 48-18 win over Worcester at Twickenham. The enigmatic wing man notched up two rip-roaring tries and appears more than ready for a return to the England set-up.
Centre: BUNDEE AKI (Connacht Rugby)
The centre scored a stunning late try as Connacht ended their 29-year wait for an away win at Munster and retained their lead at the top of the Guinness Pro12.
Centre: HADLEIGH PARKES (Scarlets)
The experienced Kiwi scored a crucial try as Scarlets sealed a 20-12 triumph against Zebre to move up to second in the Guinness Pro12. Parkes displayed his ability to score a try out of nothing when he broke through an attempted tackle by Guglielmo Palazzani to go over by the posts. He has proved fantastic addition since signing from New Zealand provincial side Auckland.
Wing: FRANK HALAI (Wasps)
In a steely performance as Wasps overcame London Irish 33-15, it was Halai’s clinical finishing that gave his side the eventual edge. The one-cap New Zealand international was typically evasive as he strode in for game-changing tries at the end of either half.
Fly-half: GARETH STEENSON (Exeter Chiefs)
Steenson was in sparkling form once again as Exeter edged out Harlequins 26-25 at Sandy Park. The 31-year-old Northern Ireland-born fly-half amassed 21 points, scoring a second-half try, two conversions from two attempts and thrashing over four penalties.
Scrum-half: YANN LESGOURGUES (Bordeaux Bègles)
The 24-year-old scrum-half touched down a hat-trick as Bordeaux overcame Pau 46-10 to move up seventh in the Top 14. Lesgourgues, who is a member of a talented young players at the club, showed his skills to keep his side ticking while also finished his treble impeccably.
Prop: Alasdair Dickinson (Edinburgh Rugby)
The former Sale man was a major presence as Edinburgh were comfortable 32-13 winners against Newport Gwent Dragons. A veteran of 52 Scotland caps, Dickinson finished a fine night’s work with his first try of his second spell with the club.
Hooker: MIKEY HAYWOOD (Northampton)
The ever-reliable Mike Haywood named the man of the match in Saints’ 15-3 win against Gloucester on Friday night. The hooker, who has been a more than able stand-in for Dylan Hartley in recent seasons, impressed with his accurate line-out throwing while his scrummaging was also exceptional.
Prop: KIERAN BROOKES (Northampton)
Scrummaging rock Brookes followed up his impressive performance against Glasgow Warriors last weekend with an equally good display as Saints beat Gloucester. He bullied Paddy McAllister off the field within the first 25 minutes before tormenting his replacement Yann Thomas for the remainder of the match. The prop will be hoping Eddie Jones was watching yet another dominant display as he looks to establish himself in the England starting XV.
Lock: GEORGE KRUIS (Saracens)
Kruis has been outstanding for his team up front sofar this season and is one of the in-form locks in Europe right now. His power, precision and awareness saw him put in another great display as Saracens overcame Worcester on Saturday at Twickenham.
Lock: ALUN WYN JONES (Ospreys)
Powered over for the try that launched the Ospreys to a derby day win against Cardiff Blues in the Guinness Pro12. A class apart in the engine room and drove his team on in typical fashion, leading by example with his commitment.
Flanker: MIKE WILLIAMS (Leicester Tigers)
In a ferocious encounter between Tigers and Bath, whichever pack came out on top would be the winners. That proved to be Leicester, triumphing 21-11 at Welford Road and Williams, a shrewd-looking summer recruit from Worcester, was a crucial part of that, getting through a mountain of work with his aggressive edge helping the home side over the line
Flanker: BEN MOWEN (Montpellier)
Montpellier, who have four former Wallabies in their starting XV, turned to their charismatic Captain Ben Mowen to lead them to a 25-20 home win against La Rochelle on Friday night. The back-row, who joined from the Brumbies just over a year a go, put in a phenomenal display with his try proving in the end to be the crucial score.
Number 8: NATHAN HUGHES (Wasps)
The hulking, 20 stone Number 8 was at the centre of most things Wasps did well up front as they eased past London Irish 33-15. The uncapped Fijian, who scored twice in his side’s shock 33-6 win over Toulon last weekend, built on that stellar outing with another at Twickenham. Slowly becoming one of the best in his position in the Premiership, he will be crucial if Wasps are to launch a title bid.