RUCK’s Team of the Week: Charles Piutau, Danny Care, Taulupe Faletau…
The RUCK Team of the Week (TOTW) is released by us each Sunday and represent players from the Northern Hemisphere that have played best in our opinion the previous week.
Fullback: CHARLES PIUTAU (Wasps)
Former All Black Charles Piutau scored a match-winning try in the final minute for Wasps to win their European Champions Cup quarter-final.
The try in the corner was Piutau’s second for the game and left Wasps one point behind at 24-23 before Kiwi team-mate kicker Jimmy Gopperth stepped up to the tee and kicked the conversion to snatch victory over the Exeter Chiefs 25-24.
Piutau is due to join Ulster over the summer, which will be devastating to the Wasps supporters as he continues to show his world-class ability.
Wing: CHRIS ASHTON (Saracens)
It has been a difficult few weeks for Chris Ashton but he looked as if he enjoyed a measure of redemption when he went over for the try that broke Northampton as Sarries overcame them in the quarter-final on Saturday.
That the Saints are his former club may have added extra spice to the moment. The swallow dive was performed with his usual gusto as the winger continues to build towards getting back to his best.
Centre: PETER BETHAM (Leicester)
The Aussie followed up his man of the match performance against Gloucester last weekend with yet another faultless display as Tigers booked their place in the European Champions Cup semi-final.
Centre: MANU TUILAGI (Leicester)
Tuilagi again showed flashes of getting back to his best as he opened the scoring for Tigers after he bulldozed his way across the whitewash.
Wing: NIKI GONEVA (Leicester)
Goneva’s try brace helped Leicester Tigers thump woeful Stade Francais 41-13 at Welford Road to book their first European Cup semi-final for seven years.
Fly-half: JONATHAN WISNIEWSKI (Grenoble)
The number 10 played down his match-winning role in Grenoble’s epic 33-32 Challenge Cup quarter-final win over Connacht but in truth his performance was immaculate.
He scored 23 of his side’s points as he steered them back from the brink in both halves as they recovered from a 16 and then a 13-point deficit.
Wisniewski, in fact, didn’t miss a kick all night, winning the game in the end with a superb drop-goal.
Scrum-half: DANNY CARE (Harlequins)
A hat-trick of tries from the genius scrum-half played a crucial role in Quins’ eventually seeing off stubborn resistance from London Irish to secure their spot in the European Challenge Cup semi-finals.
Prop: MARK LAMBERT (Harlequins)
Hooker: ELLIOT DEE (Newport Gwent Dragons)
Prop: LUC DUCALCON (Racing 92)
Lock: MARO ITOJE (Saracens)
Watching Itoje dominate proceedings once again at Allianz Park on Saturday was another reminder of the unlimited potential the 21-year-old posseses.
Lock: LUKE CHARTERIS (Racing 92)
Flanker: COURTNEY LAWES (Northampton)
Part of an outstanding back-row effort, although on the losing side, the towering forward put in probably his best display of the season with some big hits and a superb try late on for Saints against Saracens.
Flanker: LUKE WALLACE (Harlequins)
The back-rower, who was named Green Flag Forward of the Month for March, forced down a pair of tries as Quins secured their spots in the European Challenge Cup final.
Number 8: TAULUPE FALETAU (Newport Gwent Dragons)
Faletau was simply awesome. The Dragons were indebted to a monumental man-of-the-match performance from the Wales No.8 as they shocked everyone to knock out Challenge Cup-holders Gloucester.