Team of the Week: Champions Cup

Date published: October 21 2014

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After the first round of action in the European Champions Cup, we pick out who excelled and stood out across the weekend.

After the first round of action in the European Champions Cup, we pick out who excelled and stood out across the weekend.

15 Dan Evans (Ospreys): Two tries for the Welsh full-back booked his spot in the XV, as the Ospreys comfortably outclassed Treviso at home on Sunday. 98 metres plus four defenders beaten made him too hard to ignore, although Liam Williams did impress for the Scarlets in Toulon.

14 Christian Wade (Wasps): Strong contenders for the right wing berth in Yoann Huget and Sean Maitland, but Wade is too special to leave out. His solo try was yet another reminder of what an insanely talented young player he is. Wade scorched past three defenders down the right touchline for a super try, finishing with six defenders beaten and 69 metres to his name.

13 Mark Bennett (Glasgow Warriors): Such a big part of Glasgow’s hammering of Bath, Bennett scored twice for the Pro12 finalists, the second of which was an absolute gem. Glasgow have such a fluid backline and Bennett is at the heart of it. Sale’s Johnny Leota gets a nod for a barnstorming game against Munster, when he beat eight defenders.

12 Maxime Mermoz (Toulon): The primary candidate despite missing a few tackles, Mermoz’s opportunism gave him a try against the Scarlets. He also played a major role in Matt Giteau’s earlier score as Toulon were pushed all the way by the Welsh region. Nods to Alapati Leiua of Wasps, 15 tackles, along with Wynand Olivier for his super try against Toulouse.

11 Zac Guildford (Clermont): Pushing out David Strettle down to his superior defence, the Kiwi was sharp for Clermont in London as he gets his career back on track. Just shy of 100 metres made but with two tries to his name, Guildford is in. Leinster’s Darragh Fanning gets a mention.

10 Ian Keatley (Munster): Two Irish tens, but how can you not go with Keatley after his drop goal heroics against Sale? Calmness personified, Keatley snatched the win in Munster’s impressive comeback to add another chapter into their European legacy. Jonathan Sexton showed great control on his return for Racing, while Nick Evans’ clever assist and goalkicking saw Harlequins home.

9 Conor Murray (Munster): Hard to leave out Jean-Marc Doussain after his superb solo try, Ben Youngs too, but Murray gets the nod for his role along with Keatley in Munster’s fightback. The Ireland scrum-half bagged a try and an assist, so physical around the breakdown.

8 Jamie Heaslip (Leinster): Harsh on CJ Stander after he tore the house down at the AJ Bell Stadium with over 100 metres to his name, but Heaslip’s eye-watering 23 carries, 14 tackles plus 50 metres give him the nod. That’s a seriously high work-rate from the Leinster captain as they battled their way back to victory.

7 Julian Salvi (Leicester): Leicester’s master of the dark arts delivered again against Ulster, racking up 22 tackles in a defensive performance that we’ve come to expect from the Australian. Keeps delivering. A mention for John Barclay of the Scarlets.

6 Magnus Lund (Sale): Another player to rack up 22 tackles this weekend, Lund was at the heart of Sale’s spectacular first half when they left Munster with a mountain to climb. Wasps’ Ashley Johnson gets a mention for another strong performance this season.

5 Joe Launchbury (Wasps): We’ve moved Launchbury across to the number five slot following his impressive display in Dublin. The essential England player won his share of lineouts and made 22 tackles against Leinster, carrying well too in the loose. Franco van der Merwe impressed for Ulster, as did Graham Kitchener for the Tigers.

4 Joe Tekori (Toulouse): Making it a pair of Joes in the second row, Tekori producing a storming performance against Montpellier. The giant Samoan was a menace in the loose, beating six defenders and making three offloads. A mention for George Kruis of Saracens, who made 12 tackles and won eight lineouts plus a steal.

3 Fraser Balmain (Leicester): Superb effort from the young English tighthead to rack up 16 tackles against Ulster. Tipped for big things, England’s depth at three is far from rock solid so this performance will have helped his cause. A nod to Luc Ducalcon whose scrummaging power troubled Northampton.

2 Corey Flynn (Toulouse): The former Crusaders and All Blacks hooker made an impressive 75 metres with the ball for his new club against Montpellier, a great effort for a hooker. Flynn’s high number of carries along with Tekori were crucial to Toulouse’s success. Leicester’s Leonardo Ghiraldini gets a nod as does Sale’s Marc Jones.

1 Dave Kilcoyne (Munster): Our third Munsterman, Kilcoyne’s try played a big role in the comeback at Sale as the Ireland international made a substantial impact when it mattered.

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