The RUCK Team of the Week (TOTW) is released by us each Sunday and represent players that have played best in our opinion the previous week.
Fullback: CHRIS PENNELL (Worcester (Warriors)
Dean Ryan saluted his “older fellas” after Worcester Warriors finally ended their Aviva Premiership away day blues against Newcastle on Friday evening. Experienced fullback Chris Pennell was really one of those starts as he dealt with the threat of the Falcon’s young backs while carrying over the gain line consistently to keep the Warriors on the front foot. He has probably been Worcester’s most consistent player so far this season.
Wing: ADAM ASHLEY-COOPER (Bordeaux-Begles)
Australian international winger Adam Ashley-Cooper grabbed a sensational hat-trick to help steer French Top 14 side Bordeaux to a 48-20 mauling of rock-bottom Oyonnax on Saturday. The 31-year-old Ashley-Cooper scored his first two tries in the space of four first-half minutes and added his third of the afternoon after 65 minutes.
Centre: SAM JAMES (Sale)
Centre: MANU TUILAGI (Leicester Tigers)
Manu Tuilagi scored his first Premiership try for nearly two years as Leicester moved up to third with a victory over second-placed Exeter. The centre seemed to tire after the break but continued to show flashes of his exceptional ability throughout.
Wing: NOA NAKAITACI (Clermont)
France wing Noa Nakaitaci scored a hat-trick as Clermont went top of the French Top 14 table with a 45-12 bonus point rout of Grenoble on Friday. Fiji-born flyer Nakaitaci was the hero with three first half tries but Clermont were at their scintillating best as they exploited a succession of Grenoble errors to touch down five times in the first period.
Fly-half: STEPHEN MYLER (Northampton)
Stephen Myler scored 15 points, which included the game’s only try as Northampton handed Saracens only their third loss of the season.
Scrum-half: GREIG LAIDLAW (Gloucester)
Scotland and Gloucester captain Greig Laidlaw kicked eight points as the Cherry and Whites continued their impressive push towards the play-off places with a home win against Wasps. The scrum-half returned from Six Nations duty to replace Willi Heinz and made an immediate impact with his accurate kicking and leadership qualities
Prop: DAVE KILCOYNE (Munster)
Dave Kilcoyne bagged a brace as Munster ran out 26-5 bonus-point winners over the Dragons at Thomond Park. The loosehead third and fourth tries in as many games was combined with an exceptional scrummaging display
Hooker: RICHARD HIBBARD (Gloucester Rugby)
Wasps defended aggressively in an organised fashion against Gloucester, yet they were finally undone from close range when Wales international Hibbard powered over. The hooker, who has been one of the Cherry and Whites more consistent performers this season was also great in the lineout while his scrummaging was as always solid.
Prop: MIKE ROSS (Leinster)
Lock: CHARLIE EWELS (Bath Rugby)
Lock: Franco van der Merwe (Ulster)
Flanker: TJ IOANE (Sale Sharks)
Samoan flanker TJ Ioane touched down a crucial second half try for Sale as he continues to get over the whitewash on what seems like a weekly basis.
Flanker: DAVE SEYMOUR (Sale Sharks)
Number 8: NICK WILLIAMS (Ulster)
Two Nick Williams tries helped Ulster get back to winning ways in the Pro12 as they earned a bonus-point victory over Zebre at Kingspan Stadium. The powerful back-rower first finished off a well-constructed line-out maul after 11 minutes before he bagged his second on the half-hour mark.