Team of the Week - Aviva Premiership
April 25, 2011
Tom Biggs races away to score one of his three tries against Wasps © Getty Images
Saracens, Leicester and Bath were the big winners of the weekend and they dominate our team of the week. But who else made the grade?
15. Alex Goode (Saracens)
A day after Nick Abendanon boosted his hopes of being involved in England's World Cup warm-up games over the summer with a vibrant showing at RFU headquarters, Goode put forward his case with a supreme showing against Gloucester, including 15 points.
14. Chris Ashton (Northampton Saints)
The plaudits keep coming for the Saints winger, but then so do the performances. Ashton grabbed another Man of the Match award after two tries at the Madejski Stadium against London Irish. His opening try was particularly impressive as he blew away Delon Armitage with a devastating injection of pace.
13. Chris Wyles (Saracens)
The American may not be the most flashy centre in the Aviva Premiership but he is undoubtedly one of the most hard-working and aggressive influences in midfield. Again he was at his forceful and direct best against Gloucester.
12. Matt Banahan (Bath)
With Shontayne Hape joining Olly Barkley on the sidelines, it was left to Banahan to make his first appearance at inside-centre, and he laid down a compelling case for regular deployment in midfield with two tries and some terrific running lines opposite fellow England centre candidate Riki Flutey.
11. Tom Biggs (Bath)
The Bath winger lit up the St George's Day clash with a remarkable hat-trick at Twickenham. He showed searing pace and wonderful footwork to score three tries and set up one for Matt Carraro.
10. Sam Vesty (Bath)
In the absence of the injured Butch James, Vesty took on the playmaking duties and relished Bath's attacking approach. He created Banahan's second try with a sharp break and a smart chip over the covering defence.
9. Michael Claassens (Bath)
The South African scrum-half was at the fulcrum of all of Bath's best attacking moves, with an influential hand in the majority of their six tries. His speed to spot counter attack chances and distribution out wide consistently exposed Wasps' naïve defence.
1. Marcos Ayerza (Leicester Tigers)
Ayerza ensured the Tigers edged the front row battle in a tensely contested match against relegation-threatened Newcastle at Kingston Park.
2. Schalk Brits (Saracens)
The dynamic hooker kick-started Saracens' march to victory against Gloucester with a great opening try. He burst into the line and created a yard of space for James Short to thunder down the left flank before the trailing hooker finished off the move. Offloads, tackles, kicks, turnovers - Brits attempts the lot and achieves the majority.
3. Matt Stevens (Saracens)
The former Bath prop shifts round to tight-head after another strong performance, particularly in the loose, for Saracens. He hit a good line off Richard Wigglesworth for his try and was competitive at the breakdown throughout, raising support for an international return.
4. Steve Borthwick (Saracens)
Once again the former England captain was the architect of a near faultless Sarries lineout against Glouceseter that led to one try. However, his decisions to twice take the points on offer rather than go for a try when Sarries were comfortably ahead rightly riled the home support.
5. Danny Grewcock (Bath)
The 38-year-old lined up with Ignacio Fernandez Lobbe in a second-row partnership with a combined age of more than 74 years. And yet they tore around the pitch - with Grewcock making a remarkable 20 tackles at Twickenham - and played the full 80 minutes.
6. Tom Croft (Leicester Tigers)
Reputedly the fastest man in the Leicester squad, Croft used his afterburners to good effect to set up a try for former Newcastle scrum-half James Grindal. With the increasingly hard tracks, Croft could come into his own in the latter stages of the season.
7. Craig Newby (Leicester Tigers)
The New Zealander continues to set the standard in terms of work rate for the Tigers and again he put in a telling shift against Newcastle at Kingston Park. He also brought variety to the Tigers lineout.
8. Ernst Joubert (Saracens)
Joubert typified the hard-edge and aggression that divided the two teams at Vicarage Road. He took charge of Sarries' driving lineout to score the second try and wasinfluential around the park.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
It's time for those running Welsh rugby to stop trying to prevent its players heading to France and to start planning a future without them, writes Martin Williamson
Paul Eddison explains how the French sold English clubs down the river and why their domestic game will go from strength to strength
'Nothing can prepare you for the noise of the Millennium Stadium though, you just can't hear anything." Tom Hamilton talks to Cory Allen
Following a weekend where Wales suffered more heartbreak against Australia and the Aviva Premiership showed its class, the Monday Maul looks back at some of the key talking points