Team of the Week - Aviva Premiership
April 19, 2011
Gloucester could not contain the power of Tigers winger Alesana Tuilagi © Getty Images
Steffon Armitage Freddie Burns Martin Castrogiovanni Michael Claassens Ben Foden Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu Ally Hogg Courtney Lawes Wame Lewaravu Matt Thompson Alesana Tuilagi
Bath Rugby Gloucester Rugby Leicester Tigers London Irish Newcastle Falcons Northampton Saints Sale Sharks
After Leicester Tigers and Gloucester shared 82 points in one of the games of the season so far, it may not surprise you that a number of their players make our Team of the Week. But there were also some compelling individual showings elsewhere in the Aviva Premiership this weekend.
15. Ben Foden (Northampton Saints)
The England fullback again added a crucial sparkle for the Saints as he scored one try at Kingston Park against Newcastle, stepping his way through the defence, and created another for Bruce Reihana. Defensively he was very strong as well.
14. Richard Haughton (London Wasps)
The Wasps winger thrives on the fast, hard tracks late in the season and he tore into the Leeds defence and dented their hopes of Premiership survival with two tries at Adams Park.
13. Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu (Gloucester)
A slight rejig is required to fit in the two outstanding centres of the weekend. The Samoan moves to No.13 after a last-gasp interception try to rescue a draw for Gloucester at Welford Road. It was his second try of the game and the hugely influential centre, who also created Olly Morgan's opening try with a terrific flat pass.
12. Billy Twelvetrees (Leicester Tigers)
Drafted into the centres ahead of Anthony Allen, the former Bedford Blues playmaker scored one try but it was his faultless distribution throughout that impressed the most and kept the Tigers' attacking game flowing.
11. Alesana Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers)
The 18-stone Tigers winger scored a hat-trick in 14 minutes as he terrorised Gloucester's defence and revived memories of the way in which he tore the same opponents apart in the 2007 Premiership final.
10. Freddie Burns (Gloucester)
The young Gloucester No.10 laid out a compelling case for his promotion to first-choice fly-half when Nicky Robinson departs for Wasps next season. Burns played his part in a flowing backline showing and crucially kept his head throughout, notably to seal the draw with a conversion.
9. Joe Simpson (London Wasps)
Wasps's season may be all but over, but Simpson still has work to do to guarantee his participation in England's summer preparations for the World Cup. And two tries against Leeds will have boosted his prospects.
1. Matt Stevens (Saracens)
The loose-head prop turned in an impressive performance against Exeter Chiefs at Sandy Park, prompting Sarries coach Mark McCall to tip him for an international return ahead of England's World Cup warm-up games this summer.
2. Matt Thompson (Newcastle Falcons)
The Falcons hooker typified Newcastle's fighting spirit at Kingston Park against the Saints, making a remarkable 93 metres with ball in hand and hitting his man at the lineout time and time again in the face of a smart Saints set-piece.
3. Martin Castrogiovanni (Leicester Tigers)
The Italian returned to the Leicester starting line-up after being benched for last weekend's Heineken Cup semi-final with Leinster. And those wondering why he did not start in Dublin, were shaking their heads with greater ferocity as he turned in a terrific showing against Gloucester.
4. Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints)
The England international has reacted in recent weeks to the disappointment of missing the Six Nations with some of the best performances of his fledging career. Once again his work rate was remarkable for a lock and the ferocity of his tackling was exemplary.
5. Wame Lewaravu (Sale Sharks)
The rangy lock utilised his size and the wide Reebok Stadium pitch to great effect as he made 47 metres against London Irish and weighed in with a try for the Sharks as well as two defensive turnovers.
6. Matt Cox (Gloucester)
The blindside flanker was among a number of Gloucester youngsters to impress against the Tigers. He made 40 metres with ball in hand and was among Gloucester's top tacklers. It was significant that as Alasdair Strokosch came on, the youngster stayed on.
7. Steffon Armitage (London Irish)
A day after Toulon claimed they had signed the openside flanker, Armitage proved that his mind was still very much with London Irish's push to snatch a Premiership play-off place. His work at the breakdown was terrific and his last-minute try was a masterclass in finishing - no wonder Toulon want him.
8. Ally Hogg (Newcastle Falcons)
The Scottish No.8 had a hugely influential game for the Falcons against play-off chasing Northampton. He carried for 45 metres, made 11 tackles and was the heartbeat of Newcastle's resistance at Kingston Park.
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