Planet Rugby

Heineken Cup: Team of the Week

10th December 2012 09:53

Share:

Jared Payne Ulster scoring a try against Northampton Heineken Cup - round three

On fire: Jared Payne

Now that the dust has settled in Europe, it's time to dish out the kudos for outstanding performances in Round Three of the Heineken Cup.

Harlequins, Toulouse and Ulster all picked up important victories last weekend, with Ulster's demolition of Northampton Saints away from home standing as the pick of the results in a brilliant performance.

In France, Clermont edged out Leinster in another brutal battle following on from last year's semi-final, handing Clermont the advantage in Pool 5 ahead of the return leg at the Aviva Stadium next weekend.

The surprise winners of the weekend however were Connacht, who took down a star-studded Biarritz side for a memorable win in Galway.

Team of Round Three:

15 Jared Payne (Ulster): After missing last season with a ruptured achilles tendon, Payne was on fire against Northampton, producing both a try and an assist in Ulster's dominant performance away from home.

14 Fetu'u Vainikolo (Connacht): Two weeks after helping Tonga to a famous win over Scotland, Vainikolo has another famous try to add to his collection after his early score helped pave the way for Connacht's upset victory over Biarritz.

13 Aurélien Rougerie (Clermont): Mr. Clermont was on fine form as his side remained unbeaten at the Stade Marcel Michelin, containing the Leinster attack and producing plenty of offloads.

12 James Downey (Munster): Facing familiar opposition in Saracens after his days with Northampton, Downey was at his physical best at Thomond Park on both sides of the ball.

11 Andrew Trimble (Ulster): The Ireland winger clinched the first try against Northampton with a brilliant finish in the corner, beating out England full-back Ben Foden in a sign of things to come.

10 Dan Parks (Connacht): Plenty of competition for the 10 shirt this week from Gareth Steenson, Johnny Sexton and others, but Parks gets the nod after his 17-point haul against Biarritz, which included four penalties and a drop goal.

9 Benoit Paillaugue (Montpellier): Ruan Pienaar impressed again for Ulster but Paillaugue edges him out after leading Montpellier to victory over 14-man Cardiff Blues away from home. The scrum-half kicked six penalties after being tip-tackled by Cardiff scrum-half Lloyd Williams, who saw red as a result.

8 Louis Picamoles (Toulouse): The France number eight continued his rich vein of form against the Ospreys, making more metres than any other player and producing a brilliant offload out the back for Census Johnston's bonus-point try. Credit to Nick Easter and Jamie Heaslip.

7 Julian Salvi (Leicester Tigers): The second half may have frustrated Leicester boss Richard Cockerill but he can have no complaints about the first half, with Salvi crossing for two tries including the bonus point score before the break. Leicester have felt unbalanced in the back row during his absence, underlining his influence on the side. Credit to Ulster's tackling machine Chris Henry.

6 Iain Henderson (Ulster): A rising star of the Irish game, Henderson has returned from winning his first caps with Ireland in November and shone alongside Henry and Roger Wilson against Northampton. Beating defenders and weighing in with plenty of tackles, he is worth keeping eye one.

5 Nathan Hines (Clermont): The former Scotland second row played his part in the battle against Leinster, topping the tackle charts again and emphasising to Lions coach Warren Gatland that he still offers the physicality that will be needed on the Lions tour.

4 Tommy Hayes (Exeter): The leadership behind Exeter's first ever Heineken Cup win, Hayes as ever was in the thick of the action, making acquaintances with the opposition and also producing more tackles than any other player on the pitch with 11.

3 Census Johnston (Toulouse): The Samoan giant crossed over for Toulouse's fourth try to leave the losing bonus point out of reach for the Ospreys in the south of France. Part of a dominant performance from the home pack.

2 Rory Best (Ulster): When you're a hooker and make 16 tackles, how can you not make the team of the week? Best typified his side's physical dominance at Franklins Gardens on a memorable night for Ulster.

1 Cian Healy (Leinster): Another strong scrummaging performance alongside Ireland team-mate Mike Ross, Healy was not daunted by the Clermont scrum and carried well again in the loose, keeping him in contention for the Lions loosehead spot.

by Ben Coles

@bencoles_

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Heineken Cup
Saturday , April 26
Saracens vs Clermont Auvergne15:40
More Heineken Cup fixtures
RaboDirect PRO12
Saturday , April 26
Glasgow vs Edinburgh19:05
More RaboDirect PRO12 fixtures
Amlin Challenge Cup
Friday , April 25
Northampton vs Harlequins20:00
More Amlin Challenge Cup fixtures
Super Rugby
Friday , April 25
Blues vs Waratahs17:35
Brumbies vs Chiefs17:40
Sharks vs Highlanders19:10
Saturday , April 26
Hurricanes vs Reds19:35
Western Force vs Bulls17:40
Cheetahs vs Stormers17:05
More Super Rugby fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , April 20
Northampton 36 - 21 London IrishNorthampton vs London Irish Report
Newcastle 18 - 23 SaracensNewcastle vs Saracens Report
More Aviva Premiership results
RaboDirect PRO12
Cardiff Blues 17 - 13 ScarletsCardiff Blues vs Scarlets Report
Newport Gwent D'gons 10 - 20 Ospreys
More RaboDirect PRO12 results
Aviva Premiership
Saturday , April 19
Bath 32 - 20 WorcesterBath vs Worcester Report
Exeter 12 - 55 SaleExeter vs Sale Report
Wasps 38 - 30 GloucesterWasps vs Gloucester Report
More Aviva Premiership results
RaboDirect PRO12
Zebre 26 - 13 EdinburghZebre vs Edinburgh Report
Connacht 23 - 32 MunsterConnacht vs Munster Report
More RaboDirect PRO12 results
Top 14
Oyonnax 19 - 19 ToulouseOyonnax vs Toulouse Report
Biarritz 19 - 13 Brive
Perpignan 31 - 46 ToulonPerpignan vs Toulon Report
Racing Metro Paris 22 - 6 Clermont AuvergneRacing Metro Paris vs Clermont Auvergne Report
Stade Francais 37 - 23 Bordeaux-Begles
Grenoble 21 - 21 Bayonne
More Top 14 results
Super Rugby
Chiefs 17 - 18 CrusadersChiefs vs Crusaders Report
Waratahs 19 - 12 BullsWaratahs vs Bulls Report
Stormers 18 - 3 LionsStormers vs Lions Report
Sharks 19 - 8 CheetahsSharks vs Cheetahs Report
More Super Rugby results
Aviva Premiership
Friday , April 18
Harlequins 24 - 20 LeicesterHarlequins vs Leicester Report
More Aviva Premiership results
RaboDirect PRO12
Leinster 62 - 7 Benetton TrevisoLeinster vs Benetton Treviso Report
Glasgow 27 - 9 UlsterGlasgow vs Ulster Report
More RaboDirect PRO12 results
Top 14
Castres 22 - 15 MontpellierCastres vs Montpellier Report
More Top 14 results
Super Rugby
Hurricanes 39 - 20 BluesHurricanes vs Blues Report
Melbourne Rebels 22 - 16 Western Force
More Super Rugby results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Saracens2080
2Northampton2071
3Bath2064
4Leicester Tigers2064
5Harlequins2058