Team of the Week - Heineken Cup
May 2, 2011
Ben Foden and Chris Ashton were both in good form for the Saints © Getty Images
Chris Ashton Isaac Boss Jon Clarke Leo Cullen Phil Dowson Ben Foden Jamie Heaslip Shane Horgan Courtney Lawes Brian Mujati Sean O'Brien Clement Poitrenaud Johnny Sexton Richardt Strauss Soane Tonga'uiha
Leinster and Northampton booked their places in the Heineken Cup final with victories over Toulouse and Perpignan respectively this weekend, but how many of their stars did enough to make our Team of the Week?
15. Ben Foden (Northampton)
Foden edges out the excellent Cedric Heymans in our selection due to his try, although both players were a constant threat from deep. With the Saints pack dominating up front, Foden's fearless running gave them another dimension in attack and ensured that Perpignan were running scared for more than one reason.
14. Shane Horgan (Leinster)
Carried as we know he can, but also provided an avenue for Jonny Sexton with his work at the restart. Dominated that area when asked to, setting up a vital penalty with one take to bring his side back into contention.
13. Jon Clarke (Northampton)
Bagged Northampton's second try with some quick feet and a good injection of pace and remained a threat all afternoon, comprehensively outplaying opposite number David Marty. The England selectors don't seem to fancy him as an outside-centre option, but their loss could remain the Saints' gain.
12. Clement Poitrenaud (Toulouse)
Again selected ahead of the experienced Yannick Jauzion, Poitrenaud showcased his superb handling and pace in midfield, picking gaps with ease and creating a number of opportunities by combining with his back-three.
11. Chris Ashton (Northampton)
An understated performance from the winger, but one that showed his growing maturity. Not content with playing the poacher, he mixed up his support play with several telling runs and one excellent raking kick to touch.
10. Jonathan Sexton (Leinster)
The trials of the Six Nations have been well and truly forgotten by the Leinster playmaker, who had ice in his veins against Toulouse. A personal haul of 22 points was just part of the story as he kept his side on the straight and narrow throughout.
9. Isaac Boss (Leinster)
It was only a cameo, but Boss added a hard edge to Leinster around the fringes in the closing stages. His grit and determination impressed as his side battled across the finishing line and he may be a contender for a start in the final against the physical Saints.
1. Soane Tonga'uiha (Northampton)
The giant loose-head was at the fore for Northampton throughout, giving Nicolas Mas a pasting at the scrum and showing his amazing turn of pace with a couple of brilliant runs in the second-half.
2. Richardt Strauss (Leinster)
The South African hooker was again a menace around the field, and while the lineout was a mess in the early stages he came through. One piece of fearless play in the second-half set up Leinster's winning try and he can already lay claim to a spot in the Heineken Cup Team of the Season.
3. Brian Mujati (Northampton)
It's easy to see why the Saints fans love the former Springbok. His work in the loose may be less flamboyant than Tonga'uiha's, but his surges in the tight phases and rock-solid anchoring of the scrum make him equally as valuable.
4. Courtney Lawes (Northampton)
A very impressive display by the young lock, who went toe-to-toe with Perpignan's much-hyped pack and came out smiling. Several huge hits in midfield caught the eye and his subtle work at the lineout and breakdown make him an extra back-row at times.
5. Leo Cullen (Leinster)
After their early lineout wobbles Leinster steadied the ship, with Cullen's quiet brand of leadership maintaining an air of calm throughout despite the circumstances. He's not flash, but he's certainly effective.
6. Sean O'Brien (Leinster)
One of the finds of the season, O'Brien continues to impress with staggering ball-carrying skills and furious defence. The young flanker may regret a swinging arm aimed at Yannick Nyanga in the second-half however - Leinster would dearly miss him should he be cited and banned.
7. Phil Dowson (Northampton)
Deployed at openside in place of the injured Tom Wood, Dowson's break set up Foden for the opening try and his support play was every bit as effective as his work at the breakdown. Like Clarke, he's another player who will be wondering what he has to do to convince the England camp to give him a shot.
8. Jamie Heaslip (Leinster)
Amid his usual powerful runs and committed tackling, Heaslip helped to dominate Toulouse at the breakdown. One turnover in particular, as the visitors poured forward in a spell of second-half pressure, showed amazing strength and proved to be a turning point.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
The All Blacks' form is not a peaking issue, but Hansen must threaten to wield his axe, to demand improvement, Craig Dowd writes
"It has been the World Cup that smashed down the gender barriers of the sport." Tom Hamilton looks back at a remarkable tournament
A selection of the best pictures from England's historic World Cup triumph in Paris as they beat Canada 21-9
The latest Week in Pictures takes in the Women's World Cup, the opening round of the Top 14 and the Rugby Championship