Team of the Week: Champions Cup

Date published: December 15 2014

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Another fortnight of thrilling European action has come to a close. This is our selection of the best performers this weekend.

15 Anthony Watson (Bath): All the talk before the game might have been about Sam Burgess, but it was clear that Watson was the biggest threat in the Bath backline. A constant menace with ball in hand, the highlight was one improvised run straight through the Montpellier midfield that almost led to a great solo try. Elsewhere Leigh Halfpenny was back in top form for Toulon both with ball in hand and from the kicking tee. Brice Dulin also impressed on his return from injury.

14 Ken Pisi (Northampton): Of course we have to bear in mind the standard of the opposition, but still, Pisi’s hat-trick was mighty impressive, as were the 154 metres he made with ball in hand. He just edges out fellow hat-trick man Matt Banahan whose tries may have come against tougher opposition, but required much simpler finishes.

13 Mathieu Bastareaud (Toulon): It had been a quiet game for Bastareaud at Welford Road but he bounced back in style in the return fixture, making ground with every charge. He showed great hands for the pick-up on his try, so we’ll let him off for the drop of a similar low pass a few minutes later. Ben Jacobs showed great finishing skills for his brace for Wasps and deserves a mention as well.

12 Ian Madigan (Leinster): It wasn’t a great week for the inside centres, but we’ll give Madigan the nod for his cool kicking performance from the tee, while also showing up well in defence. The Irish international also has a great range of passing and put in some fizzing efforts in the first half in particular.

11 Noa Nakaitaci (Clermont): The scorer of a mesmerising individual try, Nakaitaci is an absolute nightmare to defend in open space. He did more than that though, defending brilliantly on his wing and making lots of ground with ball in hand. On this form he should be in France’s Six Nations squad.

10 Rhys Priestland (Scarlets): It was a welcome return to form for Priestland as the Scarlets ended Ulster’s quarter-final hopes while keeping their own alive. The oft-criticised fly-half booted the Welsh team into a 12-0 lead with four penalties, and added another after the break, while playing the pragmatic style that was required on the evening. Camille Lopez again impressed for Clermont but struggled with his kicking.

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