RUCK’s Team of the Week: Christian Wade, Finn Russell, Harry Thacker
The RUCK Team of the Week (TOTW) is released by us each Sunday and represent players from the Aviva Premiership and Guinness Pro112 that have played best in our opinion the previous week.
Fullback: ALEX GOODE (Saracens)
Alex Goode inspired Saracens in front of 80,650 fans as they all but guaranteed a home semi-final, while Harlequins’ play-off hopes were left hanging by a thread.
The Saracens full-back shone at the back for the defending champions and outplayed opposite number Mike Brown — the man who has prevented him winning more than his 20 England caps — while Chris Ashton continued his return to form after a 10-week ban.
Wing: CHRISTIAN WADE (Wasps)
Christian Wade equalled a Premiership record with six tries as Wasps climbed into the top two and secured a play-off place with a thrilling 54-35 win at Sixways.
Wade’s stunning performance, on his 100th Wasps appearance, matched the mark set by Ryan Constable for Saracens against Bedford on the same date in 2000 and ensured Wasps would move above Exeter in the table.
It was also only the second time that a player had scored four first-half tries in a Premiership fixture, the other being Tom Voyce for Bath against Rotherham in 2001.
Centre: BUNDEE AKI (Connacht)
Bundee Aki added to his growing reputation as Connacht dispatched Munster at the Sportsground and head coach Pat Lam believes the 26-year-old has fully embraced life at the province.
The powerhouse midfielder collected yet another man-of-the-match accolade as the home side claimed a first-ever league double over their neighbours with a comprehensive 35-14 victory in front of a raucous crowd in Galway.
He limped off late on to a rapturous applause, finally succumbing to a knee injury after his 20 carries gained 133 metres.
Centre: STUART OLDING (Ulster)
Wing: MARCUS WATSON (Newcastle)
Marcus Watson’s first-half breakaway try proved the decider in a hard-fought Aviva Premiership basement battle between Newcastle Falcons and London Irish at Kingston Park.
Fly-half: FINN RUSSELL (Glasgow)
Fly-half Finn Russell crossed twice as Glasgow extended their winning run to eight Guinness Pro12 games with a seven-try, 46-10 hammering of Scarlets at Parc y Scarlets.
Russell provided a personal tally of 21 points with two tries, a penalty and and four conversions.
Scum-half: GREIG LAIDLAW (Gloucester)
Scotland international scrum-half Greig Laidlaw kicked three penalties and a conversion as Gloucester ended a run of four successive Aviva Premiership defeats to rock west country rivals Exeter and prevent them from early confirmation of a place in this season’s title play-offs.
Prop: MARCOS AYERZA (Leicester)
Hooker: HARRY THACKER (Leicester)
For the Tigers, Freddie Burns continued his strong form with 20 points in the game, but it was hooker Harry Thacker who drew the plaudits from his director of rugby Richard Cockerill.
The young hooker scored the Tigers first try in the 14th minute, attacking down the blind side to step through the Saints defensive line and dummying past the Saints full back to score under the posts.
Cockerill said: “Harry Thacker’s try is probably try of the season, you won’t see a better one.
“He’s a great footballer, we saw that with the finish, the ball was in two hands and he’s tricked the full-back into chasing it.
“He’s got a great fend and he’s quick, he’s probably wasted at hooker really. It’s a great finish.
Prop: FINLAY BEALHAM (Connacht)
Lock: DOM BARROW (Leicester)
Lock: GEORGE KRUIS (Saracens)
The England lock penned a new deal this week that will keep him with the Premiership side until 2019 – and he followed that up with another monstrous display.
Flanker: IAIN HENDERSON (Ulster)
Flanker: JOSH VAN DER FLIER (Leinster)
The 22-year-old is continuing to impress in his breakthrough season for Leinster which also included international honours during the Six Nations.
Number 8: DAN BAKER (Ospreys)