Lions Watch: Team of the Week
December 10, 2012
Munster's James Coughlan was Man of the Match in their victory over Saracens © Getty Images
The Heineken Cup took centre stage once this weekend as countdown to the eagerly-awaited British & Irish Lions tour to Australia continued.
As we all tick off the days until the team depart Down Under, ESPNscrum will cast an eye across the action and pinpoint those players eligible for the elite tourists who are pushing their selection claims with strong performances. But luckily there is still a lot of rugby to be played until the squad board the plane for Hong Kong and plenty of time for hopes to rise and fall.
15. Delon Armitage (Toulon)
The Toulon fullback was among many players not involved in this autumn's internationals to deliver a timely reminder of his qualities to Warren Gatland.
14. Fergus McFadden (Leinster)
The Ireland international produced a lively display as his side went down narrowly to Clermont Auvergne at the Stade Marcel Michelin - making good yardage with ball in hand and weighing in with an impressive ten tackles including a potential try-saver.
13. Keith Earls (Munster)
The Ireland outside centre was a threat throughout for Munster and created a focal point for the forwards with his elusive and jinking running.
12. Freddie Burns (Gloucester)
Following his successful England debut last weekend, Burns shifted into the centres for much of Gloucester's Amlin Challenge Cup triumph over London Irish. He went on to score 24 points, including a try, in a hugely impressive display.
11. Andrew Trimble (Ulster)
The Ulster winger may have dropped down the pecking order for Ireland but he showed he is still a dangerous runner and potent finisher against Northampton,
10. Paddy Jackson (Ulster)
The young Irish fly-half failed to earn his first senior cap during the autumn internationals but on this composed showing it is only a matter of time before he dons the green of Ireland and may be, at some stage, the red of the Lions.
9. Danny Care (Harlequins)
Along with the rest of the Quins backline, the England scrum-half revelled behind a dominant pack and consistently made breaks and gained ground against Zebre.
1. Andrew Sheridan (Toulon)
The giant loose-head came crashing back into Lions' fans consciousness with a strong display against former club Sale Sharks. He remains a true Lions contender despite his current residence in France.
2. Jason Harris Wright (Connacht)
The former Ireland U20 hooker refused to take a backward step against Biarritz and the Sportsground and was key to laying the platform on which Connacht built a famous win.
3. Mike Ross (Leinster)
The Ireland international gave as good as he got against a formidable Clermont pack throughout a brutal encounter between two of European rugby's giants.
4. Mike McCarthy (Connacht)
A key cog in an efficient Connacht forward effort that helped bag a famous euro scalp in the form of Biarritz. The Ireland international second row picked up the Man of the Match award for his outstanding effort.
5. George Robson (Harlequins)
Robson was his customary pillar of strength in the Harlequins second-row and dominated the airwaves, including two lineout steals on the opponent's throw.
6. Chris Henry (Ulster)
The Ulster flanker racked up a remarkable 17 tackles during their win over Northampton as he helped stem the Saints' bulky pack and set the tone for the Irish province at the breakdown.
7. Peter O'Mahony (Munster)
The Munster openside produced an outstanding and inspirational display against Saracens. The mix of power and flair that he offers is sure to be rewarded further by Ireland and maybe the Lions in the coming months.
8. James Coughlan (Munster)
The Munster No.8 was rightly named Man of the Match against Saracens after making a big impact with ball in hand and coming up with some crucial turnovers.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
England broke their losing streak, but this was not them clawing their way back among the best, writes Tom Hamilton
Wales were just 13 minutes from a famous victory, but the lessons to be learned in defeat are almost exactly the same as those from previous near-misses, writes Huw Richards
Ahead of England's clash with Samoa, Scrum Sevens takes a wander down memory lane and celebrates seven examples of Pacific Islands magic
England must find a way to improve their game by tiny margins and they will get there, writes Phil Vickery