RUCK’s Team of the Week: Bastareaud, Goode, Smith
With no Six Nations this weekend, it was up to players from the Aviva Premiership, Guinness Pro 12 and French Top 14 to make up our Team of the Week.
But who were the stand-out performers? After much debate here is our final selection – do you agree? Comment below.
Fullback: MICHAEL COLLINS (Scarlets)
Two first-half tries from Scarlets fullback Michael Collins helped the Welsh side take the hugely valuable 21-20 win against Ulster in Belfast. Collins had the simple task of running in unopposed from 22 metres for his first score before collecting a chip kick to dot down his second.
Wing: NIYI ADEOLOKUN (Connacht Rugby)
Centre: CHRIS HARRIS (Newcastle)
The young centre is getting better and better all the time with his display against Northampton being one of his best. Harris, who insisted he needs to add tries to his game, scored a great pick and go score in the opening 40 before continuously being a thorn in the Saints side throughout Sundays contest at Kingston Park. Marcus Watson was also looking sharp on the wing for the Falcons.
Centre: MATHIEU BASTAREAUD (Toulon)
Wing: MATT HEALY (Connacht Rugby)
Fly-half: ANDY GOODE (Newcastle)
A faultless kicking performance from Andy Goode and a gritty 13-minute shutout as Northampton chased a winning score at the end saw the Falcons win a hugely entertaining game and in the process moves ahead of Worcester, the next team to visit the north east.
Scrum-half: FRANCOIS HOUGAARD (Worcester)
The scrum-half made his Warriors bow against Sale on Saturday, making a significant impact as the Warriors ended their 12-match losing run with a 31-23 win at Sixways. Hougaard was not picked for the Springboks for last year’s Rugby World Cup, but hopes his time in England will help him improve his skills as a scrumhalf and impress the Springbok selectors.
Prop: VAL RAPAVA-RUSKIN (Worcester)
Hooker: SCOTT LAWSON (Newcastle)
Even at the age of 34, there is still plenty of life left in Scott Lawson, the Scottish hooker whose accuracy at the lineout and leadership qualities were crucial as the Falcons recorded a sixth straight home win on Sunday. Capped 46 times by his country and consistently one of the Falcons’ best forward performers, the Lanark-born scrummager has been key to Newcastle’s turnaround in fortunes in recent weeks.
Prop: SIMONE FERRARI (Treviso)
Pro12 bottom side Trevis, spearheaded by powerhouse prop Simone Ferrari, beat Newport Gwent Dragons to earn a second straight win against Welsh opposition. The Italian team, who were winless until a week ago now have back-to-back victory, due in no small part to their dominant pack.
Lock: FLIP VAN DER MERWE (Clermont)
Lock: LEONE NAKARAWA (Glasgow Warriors)
Glasgow breathed life into their push for the Guinness Pro12 playoffs last night with a nail-biting bonus-point victory over Munster at Rugby Park in Kilmarnock. Leone Nakarawa, who was the man of the match for Gregor Townsend’s men, was at his off-loading best as Glasgow blitzed the visitors in a ferocious first seven minutes.
Flanker: GEORGE SMITH (Wasps)
Smith produced the latest in a string of sensational performances on the openside flank as Wasps continued their winning run with a 24-18 success away at Bath. The veteran has proved to be a worthwhile signing by Dai Young since joining last summer with his leadership qualities and ruthless aggression proving key to Wasps success thus far this season, especially in the Champions Cup.
Flanker: LUKE WALLACE (Harlequins)
Number 8: DAN BAKER (Ospreys)
Dan Baker, who was named man-of-the-match with 18 carries and 81 metres, was at his best as Ospreys defeated Edinburgh 27-23 in their Guinness Pro showdown at the Liberty Stadium on Sunday.