RUCK’s Team of the Week: Bleyendaal, Nadolo, Stander, Strettle

RUCK’s Team of the Week: Bleyendaal, Nadolo, Stander, Strettle

Now that the dust has settled on Round 2 of the Champions Cup and Challenge Cup; RUCK selects the players that stood out over the weekend.
Round 1: Team of the Week

Fullback: Simon Zebo (Munster)

The fullback was under every high ball and made some strong carries for Munster as they capped an emotional day with a 38-17 win against Glasgow Warriors.

The Ireland international also scored a superb try, overcoming Stuart Hogg’s attempted tackle before wrestling his way over the whitewash.

His performance, strength and character would have made Anthony Foley proud.

Honourable mentions:
Alex Goode (Saracens) – Mr. Consistent was great again as Saracens made it 2/2 against Scarlets on Saturday
Jimmy Gopperth (Wasps) – The versatile back kept his nerve to slot a late conversion, rescuing a draw.
Charles Piutau (Ulster) – The Kiwi shined for Ulster as they edged past Exeter on Saturday
Telusa Veainu (Leicester Tigers) – The brave back was at his best before he was stretchered off late on

 Wing: David Strettle (Clermont)

The English winger continued his scintillating form with yet another wonderful try as Clermont overcame Bordeaux-Begles.

Simply put, you won’t see a better finish all year.

Honourable mentions:
Keelan Giles (Ospreys) – Scored a hat-trick of tries as Ospreys beat Lyon 31-13 in France on Saturday.
Marcus Watson (Newcastle) – The Olympic silver medalist scored a try on his return as the Falcons powered to a 50-7 win against Grenoble

 Centre: Cory Allen (Cardiff Blues)

The 23-year-old scored two second-half tries as the Blues secured their second win in the European Challenge Cup with a 27-12 victory over Pau on Friday.

Centre: Nick Tompkins (Saracens)

The young centre turned up at the Allianz Park expecting to be a spectator at the Champions Cup clash between Saracens and the Scarlets.

But instead the 21-year-old, who wasn’t named in the matchday 23, found himself being drafted into the starting XV during the pre-math warm-up when skipper Brad Barritt pulled out.

Not only did he go on to make his full Champions Cup debut, but he also scored a try and picked up the Heineken Cup Man of the Match award.

Honourable mentions:
Kyle Eastmond (Wasps) – Did terrific to open up the Toulouse defence for Nathan Hughes late try
Wesley Fofana (Clermont)
Rory Scannell (Munster)

 Wing: Nemani Nadolo (Montpellier)
Honourable mentions:
David Smith (Castres) – The winger scored a brace as Castres romped to a dominant win against Saints
Jonny May (Gloucester) – The England man continues his encouraging return from injury with a great performance & try

 Fly-half: Tyler Bleyendaal (Munster)

The fly-halves time with Munster has been hampered by a succession of injuries, but the Kiwi out-half delivered an exceptional performance as the Irish province honoured Anthony Foley with a bonus-point victory over Glasgow Warriors.

Bleyendaal, who joined Munster in 2015, contributed 16 points, which included the games opening try, in a man-of-the-match performance.

Honourable mentions:
Enisei Kushnarev (Enisei-STM) – The outside half kicked five conversions and a penalty as the Russians overcame Newport
Sam Davies (Ospreys) – Sam Davies again starred as Ospreys made it back-to-back wins against Lyon
Owen Farrell (Saracens) – Continued on his exceptional form from last weekends win against Toulon
Paddy Jackson (Ulster) – The Ulsterman’s drop-goal edged his side to a narrow one-point win against Exeter

 Scrum-half: Conor Murray (Munster)
Honourable mentions:
Peter Stringer (Sale Sharks) – Managed to stand out as one of Sale’s better players in a poor performance

Prop: Mako Vunipola (Saracens)
Honourable mentions:
Antoine Tichit (Castres)
David Klilkoyne (Munster)

Hooker: Tom Youngs (Leicester Tigers)
Honourable mentions:
Niall Scannell (Munster)
Michael van Vuuren (Bath Rugby)
Rory Best (Ulster) 

Prop: Daniel Kotze (Castres)
Honourable mentions:
Kyle Sinckler (Harlequins)

Lock: Mamuka Gorgodze (Toulon)

Lock: Graham Kitchener (Leicester Tigers)
Honourable mentions:
Will Witty (Newcastle Falcons) 
Graham Kitchener (Leicester Tigers)

Flanker: Mathieu Babillot (Castres)
Honourable mentions:
Charles Ollivon (Toulon)

Flanker: Schalk Burger (Saracens) 

The legendary back-rower is experiencing northern hemisphere club rugby for the first time at the age of 33 – but the South African really had hit the ground running at Sarries with a series of faultless, committed performances.

Number 8: CJ Stander (Munster)

“I think A lot of the boys turned into men this week.”

The second sentence from an emotional Stander after he and Munster dismantled Glasgow at Thomond Park to pay Anthony Foley a fitting tribute.

Stander, who threw everything at Glasgow but the kitchen sink, wore the number 24 jersey in the bonus point win as the province opted to retire the number 8 for their sold-out Pool 1 fixture.

Honourable mentions:
Zach Mercer (Bath) – Mercer was yet again one of the standouts for Bath as they beat Bristol on Thursday
Alex Tulous (Castres)
Billy Vunipola (Saracens) The England international continues to show why he’s now renowned as a global superstar
Nasi Manu (Edinburgh Rugby) – Manu was instrumental as Edinburgh powered to a narrow victory against Harlequins


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