Now that the dust has settled, Planet Rugby thought it only right to hand out some praise to the star players of Heineken Cup, Round 4.
Now that the dust has settled, Planet Rugby thought it only right to hand out some praise to the star players of the fourth round of the Heineken Cup.
The Pools are taking shape after what was a wonderful round of rugby, with the competition now taking a break until next year for the run-in.
So without further ado, here comes our offering.
Heineken Cup: Team of Round Three
15 Luke Arscott (Exeter Chiefs) – What a performance it was from the Chiefs full-back as he caused Toulon all kinds of problems. Arscott made close to 200 metres, beating 11 defenders in the process as the visitors' back-three excelled at Stade Felix Mayol. Mentions for Jared Payne and Mike Brown from Ulster and Harlequins respectively, with the former man-of-the-match against Treviso while Brown was once again a rock against Racing.
14 Charlie Walker (Harlequins) – A sevens star now making his mark in the XV-man game for Harlequins, Walker grabbed the only try of the game as Conor O'Shea's side saw off Racing MÃ©tro at The Stoop. The youngster made 102 metres over 8 carries, beating three defenders to cap a busy afternoon. A mention for Exeter's Jack Nowell.
13 George North (Northampton Saints) – Thrown in at 13 as a late change due to the absence of an injured Dom Waldouck, the concern was that for all his ability going forward, North may struggle in defence at centre especially against the likes of Brian O'Driscoll. He did not and put in a superb performance that saw him score and at one point cover four Leinster attackers on the drift defence. Maybe they should leave him in midfield?
12 Watisoni Votu (Perpignan) – Man of the Match despite ending up on the losing side due to JJ Hanrahan's heroics, Votu was a tour de force for USAP – making 70 metres off 9 carries and beating an impressive five defenders along the way. This guy is a real livewire. Mention for Luke Marshall of Ulster.
11 Napolioni Nalaga (Clermont) – The Scarlets made a point pre-match of keeping close tabs on Sitiveni Sivivatu. Unfortunately for the hosts, they took their eye off the rampaging Nalaga. The Fijian juggernaut scored twice – the first after 20 seconds – and accumulated 62 metres from 9 carries. He seems to relish playing in the Heineken Cup. Mentions for Maxime Medard and David Smith.
10 Enzo Selponi (Montpellier) – Mentions first off for Matt Giteau and Dan Biggar, who were very good for Toulon and the Ospreys respectively in Round 4. Selponi is 20 years old but played with a maturity beyond his inexperience on Sunday against Leicester as he cruised through a big game. He does not lack confidence going forward and was rewarded with a try as the absence of Francois Trinh-Duc wasn't noticeable. A bright future.
9 Ben Youngs (Leicester) – The Youngs brothers were excellent for Leicester in France over the weekend and played a big part in securing a much-needed away win. Ben was intelligent at the base as his kicks regularly found space and/or touch, pinning Montpellier in their own half. He also set up his brother Tom for the opening try of the game. His opposite number, Benoit Paillaugue, was also good as was Edinburgh's Grayson Hart.
8 Louis Picamoles (Toulouse) – The France breakaway was a typically titanic unit with ball in hand as Toulouse avenged their shock home loss to Connacht on Saturday. Picamoles made more metres than any of his team-mates – a whopping total of 83 for 15 carries – beat nine defenders in attack, and powered over for a try. Defensively, he was reliable too, emerging with a personal tally of 11 tackles. Elsewhere, Robin Copeland continued his fine run of form in Cardiff Blues' victory at Glasgow. Northampton Saints' Samu Manoa was an almighty force in the loose, laying the foundations for a magnificent triumph over Leinster.
7 Justin Tipuric (Ospreys) – Tipuric was an energetic presence around the field against physical Castres opponents. An ever-willing attacking ballast, the openside made 27 metres from five carries, and beat two defenders. With the hosts' points coming exclusively through the boot of Dan Biggar, Tipuric oft impressed without possession. A nuisance around the breakdown, he made an impressive 18 tackles – missing none – and was a reliable lineout option with four takes from four.
6 Luke Wallace (Harlequins) – Wallace was at the forefront of Quins' fine brace of victories over Racing MÃ©tro, landing a perfect 10 from 10 tackles and making a big impact around the breakdown at The Stoop on Sunday, and 16 metres from four carries. Mentions too for Jackson Wray of Saracens and Saints' Calum Clark, whose abrasiveness and power at the tackle area in that outstanding tight effort in Dublin.
5 Christian Day (Northampton) – For Northampton's pack to go from outmuscled to dominant in a week took a number of factors, but Day's inclusion in the engine room was a major one. Severely underrated, Day got through a lot of work alongside Courtney Lawes in a pack that was outstanding. He also took seven lineouts.
4 Courtney Lawes (Northampton) – Hounded Leinster at the lineout and won five balls himself, whilst also making 11 tackles and missing none. Watching Lawes mature this season into a smart rugby player and not just an athlete is a growing pleasure. His form for club and country has been excellent. Nine carries proves he's still hungry for work.
3 BJ Botha (Munster) – Botha once again proved his worth in the red jersey as he was a rock at prop against Perpignan. The solidity he brings is priceless at times and he was a big reason – along with a few others in the pack – why Munster ultimately won at USAP.
2 Tom Youngs (Leicester) – In an ongoing battle with Dylan Hartley for England's hooking spot, Youngs possibly edged in front ahead of the Six Nations with an all-action display against Montpellier. He was tireless in the tight and loose, scoring a try while also completing 11 tackles. Hartley was also good this past weekend and deserves a mention.
1 Marcos Ayerza (Leicester) – Joe Marler was a nuisance to Racing's pack as he got under the skin of the French, which helped Quins overcome their opponent. He also dominated an out of position Soane Tonga'uiha at scrum time. However, Ayerza's stock continues to soar for both country and club as his set-piece, solid work up front and an assist for Verenika Goneva's match-winning try proved critical and sees him edge out the Englishman.