Planet Rugby

Heineken Cup: Team of the Week

14th October 2013 13:32


Heineken Cup Team of the Week 1 2013 2014

Top class: James Hook and Matt Giteau

Now that the dust has settled after the first weekend of European action, we select the XV players that stood out from the crowd.

What a start to the tournament! Tries galore and handful of upsets too - fans of European club rugby were given a real treat.

Toulon and Leinster confirmed their credentials as title favourites while Harlequins and Clermont (who face off this Sunday) have already lost ground in the battle to get out of Pool 4.

There were some fantastic team and individual performances, making it a tough task to pick only XV names and - as usual - there was some hot debate at Planet Rugby HQ. Don't forget to add your selections in the comments section below.

Heineken Cup Team of the Week: Round One:

15 James Hook (Perpignan): A full-house for the Welsh exile came in defeat away to Gloucester, but that shouldn't take away from Hook's performance. Do Wales really not need him? Fast becoming Perpignan's most prized possession. Credit to Mike Brown for his brace also in defeat, this time to the Scarlets.

14 Sitveni Sivivatu (Clermont): Arguably the individual performance of the weekend. 'Sivi' was the Man of the Match on a losing side but you can't blame the former All Black for Clermont's failure to cross the whitewash. He was everywhere, excellent on defence and made over 140m with ball in hand, beating eight defenders along the way.

13. Maxime Mermoz (Toulon): Two well-taken tries and an assist in another top-class performance from the French international, who also made three clean breaks. Perfect running lines, brilliant hands.

12 Scott Williams (Scarlets): Williams could have made the team alone for his outrageous dummy in the build-up to a sensational try at The Stoop against Harlequins. The English side had no answer to Williams' pace and power, whilst his try was one of the best so far this season.

11 Fetu'u Vainikolo (Exeter Chiefs): Outstanding in his first starting appearance for the Chiefs, Vainikolo's hunger to get involved was obvious. A try, a handful of clean breaks and five defenders beaten, the Tongan was bubbling with energy.

10 Matt Giteau (Toulon): He may have started at 12 but the former Wallaby scored both his tries after shifting to fly-half following Jonny Wilkinson's early exit. Beyond his versatility, Giteau's eye for gap makes him one of the most dangerous attackers in the game.

9 Greig Laidlaw (Edinburgh): At the heart of Edinburgh's surprising win over Munster was their skipper. Laidlaw made it a birthday to remember by passing 500 points for the club as he captained Edinburgh to victory in a man-of-the match performance, scoring 19 points.

8 Dave Ewers (Exeter): The young English number eight is making a real name for himself, having succeeded the retired Richie Baxter for the Chiefs. 18 carries in a man-of-the-match innings continued to hurt the Cardiff Blues forwards. One to look out for. Credit to Chris Masoe for an excellent performance, as always, against Glasgow.

7 Sean O'Brien (Leinster): The sole try scorer at the Liberty Stadium was a menace at the breakdown, racking up 11 tackles in an effective trio alongside Kevin McLaughlin and Jamie Heaslip. O'Brien's 13 carries and offloading helped Leinster get over the advantage line when it mattered.

6 Roger Wilson (Ulster): Man of the Match in Ulster's battle with Leicester, Wilson put in a tireless effort at the breakdown. He also carried well and made 10 tackles. A mention too for Scarlets' Aaron Shingler and Toulon's Joe van Niekerk.

5 Rodrigo Capo Ortega (Castres): Man of the Match against Northampton, the Urugruayan lock made an impressive 18 tackles for Castres as the Top 14 champions bucked their league form to start their European campaign with a bang. An effective ball-carrier too.

4 Bakkies Botha (Toulon): The former Springbok seldom stands out in the stats because he does his best work in the trenches. Bernard Laporte brought him to France to hit rucks hard and that's exactly what he did.

3 Luc Ducalcon (Racing Metro): A tough decision as there was little to choose between a number of candidates. Racing got their four pool points thanks to pure grit and courage as they defended their hearts out. Ducalcon gets our nod thanks to his 10 hits. A mention too for Exeter's Hoani Tui.

2 Sean Cronin (Leinster): Leinster's pack were robust in Swansea and Cronin put his hand up - carrying for 55 metres (more than any other Leinster player), beating two defenders and making 11 tackles on the other side of the ball whilst setting up O'Brien's try. In the week when Leinster lost Richardt Strauss for the season, Cronin proved that they should be ok.

1 Mako Vunipola(Saracens): It's hard to ignore a prop who beats three defenders and makes ten tackles. A mention too for Leinster's Cian Healy and Toulon's Emmanuel Felsina.

Forthcoming Fixtures
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Friday , April 18
Harlequins vs LeicesterHarlequins vs Leicester Preview
Saturday , April 19
Exeter vs Sale15:00
Bath vs Worcester15:00
Wasps vs Gloucester15:15
Sunday , April 20
Northampton vs London Irish14:00
Newcastle vs Saracens15:00
More Aviva Premiership fixtures
RaboDirect PRO12
Friday , April 18
Leinster vs Benetton TrevisoLeinster vs Benetton Treviso Preview
Glasgow vs UlsterGlasgow vs Ulster Preview
Saturday , April 19
Zebre vs Edinburgh14:30
Connacht vs Munster18:15
Sunday , April 20
Cardiff Blues vs Scarlets14:00
Newport Gwent D'gons vs Ospreys16:45
More RaboDirect PRO12 fixtures
Top 14
Friday , April 18
Castres vs MontpellierCastres vs Montpellier Preview
Saturday , April 19
Oyonnax vs Toulouse14:55
Perpignan vs Toulon17:00
Grenoble vs Bayonne18:30
Biarritz vs Brive18:30
Racing Metro Paris vs Clermont AuvergneRacing Metro Paris vs Clermont Auvergne Preview
Stade Francais vs Bordeaux-Begles20:35
More Top 14 fixtures
Super Rugby
Friday , April 18
Hurricanes vs BluesHurricanes vs Blues Preview
Melbourne Rebels vs Western Force19:40
Saturday , April 19
Chiefs vs Crusaders19:35
Waratahs vs Bulls19:00
Sharks vs Cheetahs15:00
Stormers vs Lions17:05
More Super Rugby fixtures
Recent Results
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , April 13
Saracens 28 - 24 NorthamptonSaracens vs Northampton Report
London Irish 40 - 12 NewcastleLondon Irish vs Newcastle Report
Saturday , April 12
Worcester 33 - 38 ExeterWorcester vs Exeter Report
Leicester 27 - 15 WaspsLeicester vs Wasps Report
Gloucester 17 - 18 BathGloucester vs Bath Report
More Aviva Premiership results
RaboDirect PRO12
Benetton Treviso 45 - 27 Newport Gwent D'gonsBenetton Treviso vs Newport Gwent D
Scarlets 27 - 20 ZebreScarlets vs Zebre Report
Munster 5 - 22 GlasgowMunster vs Glasgow Report
More RaboDirect PRO12 results
Top 14
Bordeaux-Begles 20 - 22 ToulonBordeaux-Begles vs Toulon Report
Toulouse 16 - 9 BriveToulouse vs Brive Report
Grenoble 30 - 36 Montpellier
Perpignan 22 - 12 Oyonnax
Bayonne 24 - 19 Stade Francais
Racing Metro Paris 37 - 7 Biarritz
More Top 14 results
Super Rugby
Chiefs 22 - 16 Melbourne RebelsChiefs vs Melbourne Rebels Report
Western Force 28 - 16 WaratahsWestern Force vs Waratahs Report
Lions 12 - 25 SharksLions vs Sharks Report
Cheetahs 31 - 52 CrusadersCheetahs vs Crusaders Report
More Super Rugby results
Aviva Premiership
Friday , April 11
Sale Sharks 12 - 27 HarlequinsSale Sharks vs Harlequins Report
More Aviva Premiership results
RaboDirect PRO12
Ulster 58 - 12 ConnachtUlster vs Connacht Report
Edinburgh 22 - 29 Cardiff BluesEdinburgh vs Cardiff Blues Report
Ospreys 25 - 19 LeinsterOspreys vs Leinster Report
More RaboDirect PRO12 results
Top 14
Clermont Auvergne 23 - 11 CastresClermont Auvergne vs Castres Report
More Top 14 results
Super Rugby
Highlanders 27 - 20 BullsHighlanders vs Bulls Report
Reds 20 - 23 BrumbiesReds vs Brumbies Report
More Super Rugby results
Aviva Premiership Table
3Leicester Tigers1963