Team of the Week - Aviva Premiership
May 9, 2011
Matt Banahan ran roughshod over Newcastle © Getty Images
Matt Banahan Owen Farrell Ignacio Fernandez Lobbe Hendre Fourie Dylan Hartley Tom Johnson Scott Mathie Brian Mujati Kearnan Myall Chris Robshaw Charlie Sharples Henry Trinder Alesana Tuilagi Sam Vesty Alex Waller
After the final round of Aviva Premiership action, Leicester, Saracens, Gloucester and Northampton have been confirmed for the play-offs while Leeds look set for the drop. Amidst all the drama, who did enough to make our Team of the Week?
15. Sam Vesty (Bath)
Switched to his old position at fullback, Vesty ended his first season at The Rec on a high by terrorising Newcastle. He bagged his side's first try after 11 minutes as they comfortably saw off the Falcons, falling just short of the play-offs.
14. Charlie Sharples (Gloucester)
One of the Premiership's form players, Sharples notched a hat-trick in the Cherry and Whites' rout of Sale, taking his tally for the season to seven. With James Simpson-Daniel back on the other wing and also among the tries, Gloucester will hope to do some damage in the play-offs.
13. Henry Trinder (Gloucester)
Like Sharples, Trinder made his mark on the scoreboard against Sale, crossing twice, and his emergence this season is another plus in a squad that is heavy on youth and geared towards a big future.
12. Matt Banahan (Bath)
Banahan has seamlessly filled the void left at inside-centre by Shontayne Hape, bagging another try against the Falcons and allowing Steve Meehan to field Vesty at fullback. A certainty for England's Rugby World Cup squad on this form.
11. Alesana Tuilagi (Leicester)
The Premiership's leading try-scorer saved the best for last against London Irish, diving in at the corner for a stunning solo try on 80 minutes to complete his side's comeback. The score was his 12th of the season.
10. Owen Farrell (Saracens)
Still some way short of his 20th birthday, Farrell underlined his worth to Sarries with a superb all-round display against Harlequins. He chipped in with a try, a conversion and a penalty in the narrow victory and looks set to spearhead Sarries' charge into the semi-finals, with an unbeaten run of 11 games behind them.
9. Scott Mathie (Leeds)
Leeds were poised to pull off the biggest upset in the history of the Premiership 20 minutes into their clash against Northampton, with Mathie at the heart of their efforts. The South African scrum-half created their first two tries with great handling and their third with a punt downfield, although his efforts proved to be in vain.
1. Alex Waller (Northampton)
With Soane Tonga'uiha named among the replacements, Waller enjoyed a strong outing on only his second Premiership start. The loose-head played a big role in the Saints' first-half penalty try and was part of a dominant scrummage throughout.
2. Dylan Hartley (Northampton)
Saints boss Jim Mallinder would have wanted to leave his big guns on the bench, but such was his side's predicament against Leeds that Hartley was thrust into the fray just after the break. The Saints skipper immediately ramped up his side's aggression around the park and led from the front, continuing their scrum dominance.
3. Brian Mujati (Northampton)
Plenty of plaudits have gone the way of the South African tight-head in recent weeks and his showing against Leeds deserves a few more. With his side on the rack Mujati decimated the visitors' scrum and gave the Saints a vital platform from which to launch their comeback.
4. Ignacio Fernandez Lobbe (Bath)
With their second-row stocks at an all-time low, Bath have been well-served by the veteran pairing of Fernandez Lobbe and Danny Grewcock. The Pumas lock signed off in style with a try against Newcastle, an excellent angle carrying him over from close range.
5. Kearnan Myall (Leeds)
The Sale-bound 24-year-old shifted from blindside into the second-row against Saints, captaining the side and playing a big role in his side's early dominance of the lineout. He finished the season with 12 steals - one behind Saints' Christian Day at the top of the charts.
6. Tom Johnson (Exeter)
One of Exeter's standout players this season, Johnson ended his campaign with another try and can reflect on his place among the best back-rowers the league has to offer.
7. Hendre Fourie (Leeds)
Like Mathie, Fourie did all he could to keep Leeds afloat. The England flanker crashed over for their first try and helped to dominate the lineout early on, claiming the Man of the Match award. His future looks to lie elsewhere.
8. Chris Robshaw (Harlequins)
In a competitive back-row Robshaw is forced to shift to No.8, but the Quins skipper's efforts against Sarries, and this season, make him a worthy pick. Should get a look-in for England's Rugby World Cup warm-ups, his form has surely been too good to ignore.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
"I had a couple of injuries before but this was different." Tom Hamilton talks to Scott Williams about the O'Driscoll tackle, Wales and Scarlets
"To be the best it's not about the flash stuff, it's actually about everything done at a very high level." Tom Hamilton on the England squad
Huw Richards rewinds to 1864 to mark the birth of Welsh rugby's first authentic star - Arthur Gould
Michael Cheika has succeeded in becoming the Wallabies coach under his own terms, writes Greg Growden