European Team of the Week

Date published: April 21 2015

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We pick out the best players from the Champions Cup semi-finals, with an additional entry from the Challenge Cup to complete our side.

Toulon and Clermont are set to meet again in a European final after two nailbiting semi-finals, so they unsurprisingly dominate our selection.

Read on below to see who made the cut.

European Team of the Week

15 Leigh Halfpenny (Toulon): One miss from out wide, but otherwise flawless from the kicking tee and very good under the high ball in horrible conditions. Will need to do the same again if Toulon are to make it three in a row. Alex Goode also stood out.

14 Noa Nakaitaci (Clermont): The slippery winger didn't see enough of the ball as the two packs fought it out, yet he still managed to go past three defenders and turn in a couple of offloads while remaining rock solid in defence.

13 Mathieu Bastareaud (Toulon)It was a day for Basta in the pouring rain against Leinster and the powerful centre played his part in Toulon's victory. A regular source of go-forward for the French side, Bastareaud was also a rock in defence, shutting down any threat from Ben Te'o on the rare occasions Leinster used their backs.

12 Wesley Fofana (Clermont)The only try scorer in St Etienne was alert to the kick through from Brock James for that crucial try just after half-time that changed the shape of the game. Productive afternoon with seven carries and six tackles.

11 Bryan Habana (Toulon)Bernard Laporte claims that Habana never has a bad game when the pressure is on, and the Springbok winger kept up that record in Marseille. Solid under the high ball, he had to bide his time, but when it came, he spotted Ian Madigan's long miss-pass and gleefully pounced on it for the decisive try. That's why he earns the big bucks.

10 Brock James (Clermont)His assist for Fofana was absolutely perfect, showing his expierence by reading the Saracens defence. Now has a chance to put his rocky history in this competition to bed with the final in May.

9 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne (Edinburgh): None of the scrum-halves in the Champions Cup really stood out but we couldn't ignore the form of Hidalgo-Clyne for Edinburgh as they thrashed the Dragons to make the Challenge Cup final. The young Scottish nine racked up over 100 metres from 11 carries and finished with a try and two assists, scoring 25 points in total with his work off the tee.

8 Chris Masoe (Toulon): Unfortunate to miss out on an early try but Masoe was hugely influential for his side. His turnover set up the penalty that put Toulon back in front despite being down to 14 in extra-time. A mention for the hard-working Billy Vunipola.

7 Steffon Armitage (Toulon): Made a real impact after coming off the bench with regular turnovers that allowed Toulon to come back into the game against Leinster. All that was done despite a knee injury that was expected to restrict him to just 30 minutes of action. 

6 Maro Itoje (Saracens)The young English prospect had another fine outing on Saturday, proving he's got enough skill to play at the top level and showing his athleticism on a number of occasions. Carries, tackles, lineout wins – Itoje does it all and is still just 20.

Sébastian Vahaamahina (Clermont)His massive turnover at the breakdown with Saracens on the offensive wrapped up Clermont's semi-final victory, with the France lock in top form. Offers so much physicality at the heart of that Clermont pack with his 202cm frame. 

4 Devin Toner (Leinster)Leinster's giant second row made quite an impact on Sunday, as he caused the Toulon lineout all sorts of problems. Although not credited with any lineout steals, Toner disrupted at least two which led to Leinster recovering the ball, while Toulon were deprived of their lineout as an attacking weapon. Active around the park as well, Toner was arguably his team's best performer in the south of France.

3 Mike Ross (Leinster): The Ireland tighthead gave Xavier Chiocci a torrid time in the scrum. Leinster generally took advantage of Toulon's indiscipline to open up a lead, but Ross helped as he earned some key scrum penalties.

2 Benjamin Kayser (Clermont)Industrious for Clermont not just at the set-piece but also at the breakdown, where the French giants were excellent all day and Kayser set the tone with the first turnover penalty of the contest. A real leader who made ten carries. 

1 Mako Vunipola (Saracens)More than competent in the scrum and a huge presence as ever in the loose with his carrying ability. Coming back into form after a slow start to the season, he beat three defenders and made 34 metres with seven carries.

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