Team of the Week - Aviva Premiership
December 29, 2010
Manu Tuilagi picked up two tries and reinforced his rising status in the Premiership © Getty Images
Marcos Ayerza Brad Barritt Martin Castrogiovanni Scott Hamilton Rob Hawkins Geordan Murphy Chris Robshaw George Robson Andy Saull Joe Simpson Ed Slater Jeremy Staunton Alesana Tuilagi Manusamoa Tuilagi Thomas Waldrom
After a host of matches were postponed due to the freezing conditions hitting the country and a remarkably one-sided contest at Welford Road, it's no wonder our Team of the Week is a little one-sided. But who managed to break Leicester's near monopoly?
15. Geordan Murphy (Leicester)
The Irishman was at his majestic best against Sale running with great awareness and balance. He helped create Anthony Allen's opening try and befuddled Sale's defence to create Scott Hamilton's first try.
14. Scott Hamilton (Leicester)
The New Zealander's incisive lines and intelligent timing ensured he made the most of some terrific Tigers back play with two tries and received a covering in beer from the grateful Leicester supporters.
13. Manu Tuilagi (Leicester)
The youngest of the Tuilagi brothers made the biggest impact at Welford Road as he grabbed two tries and reinforced his reputation as a coming force in Premiership rugby and surely a future England international.
12. Brad Barritt (Saracens)
The barrelling inside centre continues to be among Saracens form players this season. He was the most threatening back on display at Wembley and such is his importance to the Sarries gameplan, Gavin Henson will have his work cut out to push him out to the No.13 berth
11. Alesana Tuilagi (Leicester)
The Samoan wing may have been overshadowed slightly by his 19-year-old brother, but he still had sufficient time in the spotlight to grab a try, floor Mark Cueto with a ferocious hit and provide some astute link-up play as the Leicester backs ran riot at Welford Road.
10. Jeremy Staunton (Leicester)
Staunton got the nod ahead of Billy Twelvetrees and how he repaid the Leicester management with a performance of calm authority that included 14 points in an almost faultless kicking display.
9. Joe Simpson (Wasps)
The young Wasps scrum-half may have been on the losing side at Wembley, but he made a wonderful try-saving tackle on Gavin Henson in the second half and attempted to inject tempo into the Wasps attack with every opportunity.
1. Marcos Ayerza (Leicester)
How the Tigers front-row relished taking on an depleted Sharks front three. The Tigers' loose-head prop scrummaged with typical power and even found himself enjoying the paces outwide as he helped put Alesana Tuilagi over. He also made a highly creditable eight tackles
2. Rob Hawkins (Leicester)
The Leicester hooker endured an anxious wait before the TMO gave the green light on his impressive dive into the corner for the Tigers third try. His lineout work was efficient and was a presence in the loose.
3. Martin Castrogiovanni (Leicester)
Speculation linking the tight-head prop with a move to France will not ease, but at least Leicester know that he will continue to have a significant impact as long as he stays. Once again he played a crucial role in dismantling the opposition's scrum.
4. Ed Slater (Leicester)
The young Leicester lock enjoyed another accomplished display at the heart of the Tigers' efforts. His lineout work was efficient, he carried with aggression and strength and almost scored a try in the corner to boot.
5. George Robson (Harlequins)
The Harlequins second-row was a real force in the lineout, proving bankable ball for Quins and a menace for Irish. He claimed six balls on Quins' throw, one on Irish's and was also prominent in defence as Irish tried in vein to steal a late win at Twickenham.
6. Chris Robshaw (Harlequins)
No player in the Aviva Premiership thrives on a dogged defensive effort quite like Robshaw. The blindside again led the Quins tackling chart with 12 hits and inspired his team as Harlequins repelled London Irish's desperate late assualt on their line.
7. Andy Saull (Saracens)
The young Saracens openside came on at half time for Sarries and made a decisive impact in the game by grabbing the winning try with typical tenacity as well as securing some crucial turnovers to more than match opposite number Serge Betsen.
8. Tom Waldrom (Leicester)
Once again the New Zealander played a pivotal role for the Leicester pack. The Tigers No.8 racked up a staggering 81 metres with ball in hand, just six metres less than Tuilagi, and even floated a lovely pass out for Hamilton's second try.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
As Scotland decides its future, Scrum Sevens looks at a group of players who transcended rugby both for country and the British & Irish Lions
Ahead of November's USA-All Blacks match, America's ESPN Magazine explains rugby to its readers who may not be familiar with the game
Tom Hamilton talks to World Cup-winning captain John Smit about life after rugby, his fears over the South African exodus and the World Cup