Investec Champions Cup Team of the Week: ‘Freakish’ Ireland winger and the Harlequins ‘architect’ light up wild quarter-finals

James While
Leinster wing James Lowe, Harlequins number eight Alex Dombrandt and Toulouse pair Pita Ahki and Paul Costes.

Leinster wing James Lowe, Harlequins number eight Alex Dombrandt and Toulouse pair Pita Ahki and Paul Costes.

Following a thrilling set of quarter-finals in the Investec Champions Cup, we have had our discussion and settled on our Team of the Week.

All winning sides are well represented with Harlequins leading the charge after edging out Bordeaux-Begles in a stunning 83-point spectacle at Stade Chaban-Delmas.

Team of the Week

15 Tyrone Green (Harlequins): When the full-back fires, so do Harlequins and it was his ability to return UBB’s kicking game that was pivotal in Quins’ incredible effort on the Atlantic Coast where his opponent Romain Buros also shone. Blair Kinghorn and James Ramm starred for Toulouse and Northampton Saints respectively, both grabbing a brace in some big-scoring wins.

14 Juan Cruz Mallia (Toulouse): Huge performance from the winger as he profited from the brilliance of his half-backs, crossing twice against Exeter. Louis Lynagh had a mixed bag for Quins but when he was needed he stepped up in style to grab a vital try. A word too for UBB’s Madosh Tambwe – he went almost next to the posts to make Maxime Lucu’s kick straightforward, but the scrum-half sliced it and the rest is history.

13 Paul Costes (Toulouse): Absolutely brilliant all afternoon and created some real problems for Exeter, with his offloads and running threat seeing him pick up the Player of the Match award. Oscar Beard put in a physical shift for Harlequins, whilst Robbie Henshaw was his usual huge self for Leinster against La Rochelle, with Nicolas Depoortere’s pick up off his toenails the moment of the weekend.

12 Jamie Osborne (Leinster): One of his biggest tests as he went toe-to-toe with the French powerhouse Jonathan Danty, but the 22-year-old rose to the occasion and produced yet another stellar performance, with his left boot coming in handy. Andre Esterhuizen was physical in both attack and defence, giving Quins a much-needed presence in the midfield against the big Bordeaux centre duo, while Pita Ahki was also outstanding for Toulouse.

11 James Lowe (Leinster): The winger’s fine form continued as he was literally involved in every single Leinster try, scoring two and assisting three. It was a breathtaking Champions Cup shift from the freakish wing. There are few more direct attackers on the wing than Ollie Sleightholme and he celebrated his birthday in style, crossing for Saints versus the Bulls.

10 Marcus Smith (Harlequins): A very close call, with Fin Smith starring for Saints, Romain Ntamack reminding us all of his class for Toulouse, and Ross Byrne racking up 15 points for Leinster. But winning on the road at Bordeaux was a monumental achievement and Smith was the architect of that.

9 Will Porter (Harlequins): How could Quins possibly win without Danny Care? Porter answered that emphatically and is our player of the week as his brilliance keeps three Test nines, Jamison Gibson-Park, Alex Mitchell and Antoine Dupont, in the runner-up slots.

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8 Alex Dombrandt (Harlequins): His brilliant run and offload set up Porter’s second try, while there were a couple of other significant carries and a personal try in an all-action effort from the Quins skipper. Caelan Doris is unlucky to finish in second place as he also had a momentous match against La Rochelle, and Juarno Augustus also needs a mention for a powerful display for Saints v Bulls, where Cameron Hanekom also shone in defeat.

7 Will Evans (Harlequins): A quite remarkable performance at the breakdown from the brilliant openside. One of his jackals defied belief as Pete Samu hit the ruck like a freight train! Francois Cros had yet another monumental game for Toulouse, delivering one memorable offload in an all-action shift.

6 Ryan Baird (Leinster): An all-action display from the blindside flanker whose second-half try swung the moment back into Leinster’s favour, and they never let it go from there. His work-rate was relentless throughout the match on both sides of the ball. Toulouse’s Jack Willis was dangerous with ball in hand and eventually gained 63 metres, which included a deserved try for his efforts. A mention, too, for the great Saint, Courtney Lawes, who at one point in the Bulls match took six consecutive lineouts – four on his own ball and two of his opponents!

5 Emmanuel Meafou (Toulouse): Absolutely monstrous and almost single-handedly smashed the Exeter breakdown to pieces. For Saints, Alex Coles is overlooked by many in the wider England debate yet he is superbly mobile and able to play across the back five of the pack. Another great shift from him.

4 Irne Herbst (Harlequins): Poor old Irne pitched up at Bordeaux hoping for a quiet afternoon in the sun with a good book. However, he was thrown into the starting line-up with 30 minutes notice and delivered a massive performance of brute power and nous. Joe McCarthy had another impressive outing for Leinster as he got the better of a massive La Rochelle lock pairing.

3 Will Collier (Harlequins): Immense. He gave Quins the platform they needed and delivered one of the best performances of his career. Tadhg Furlong is unlucky to miss out as he was back to his best against a La Rochelle pack he knows very well, and for Chiefs, Ehren Painter was one of their better performers in their loss.

2 Dan Sheehan (Leinster): Hugely mobile, scored yet another try and his tight work is getting better and better. Jack Walker was part of the Quins front-row that dismantled UBB whilst Curtis Langdon again shone for Saints.

1 Fin Baxter (Harlequins): The baby-faced assassin had a massive game in defence, putting in some thundering hits to augment his work at the coalface, where he took one of the world’s best tightheads, Ben Tameifuna, apart. Andrew Porter was again huge for Leinster, whilst Scott Sio, like Painter, also troubled the much-vaunted Toulouse front-row.

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