Team of the Week: Champions Cup, Round Four

Date published: December 18 2017

With the European Champions Cup’s fourth round of games done and dusted, it is time to work out which players excelled over the weekend.

Bath lead the way this week with five players included as they produced an impressive performance to beat Toulon at the Recreation Ground.

See who made the cut below.

Champions Cup: Team of Round 4

15 Anthony Watson (Bath): Was electric for the West Countrymen, scoring two tries in a performance which displayed his international quality. Both efforts were expertly taken as he twice broke through the Toulon defence with his pace and footwork. With 113 metres made and six defenders beaten, Watson thoroughly justifies his position over Charles Piutau (Ulster) and Scott Spedding (Clermont), who also played well.

14 Aled Brew (Bath): Another impressive display by the former Dragons and Wales wing, who has been excellent over the last few weeks. He was unlucky to miss out in round three but did enough to get in this time after creating Beno Obano’s try with an superb run down the left-hand side. David Strettle was a constant threat for Clermont and Fergus McFadden (Leinster) was excellent at the Aviva Stadium, but Brew continued his fine form, making 71 metres from 10 carries.

13 Henry Slade (Exeter): The England centre was starved of possession in the round three fixture but, when he actually received the ball, the 24-year-old looked their most potent threat. With Exeter improving significantly on Saturday, that allowed Slade to display his full repertoire as the Sandy Park-based outfit put the Leinster defence under far more duress. Frans Steyn and Nick Grigg had their moments in the Montpellier-Glasgow encounter, but Slade’s silky skills get him the nod.

12 Stuart McCloskey (Ulster): McCloskey edged the duel with Jamie Roberts on Friday night after making two clean breaks and helping his team to a comfortable victory over Harlequins. Once again, it was a quiet week for inside centres, with Robbie Henshaw (Leinster), Ma’a Nonu (Toulon), Alex Dunbar (Glasgow) and Roberts producing solid rather than spectacular performances.

11 Nemani Nadolo (Montpellier): Showed why he is one of the best in the world. Absolutely tormented Tommy Seymour throughout, making a staggering 165 metres and five clean breaks. Montpellier were in trouble against Glasgow until the Fijian weaved his magic in the second period and allowed the Top 14 outfit to pull away, putting them in with a chance of qualifying for the next round. He fought off plenty of competition too as Jacob Stockdale (Ulster), Elliot Daly (Wasps) and Isa Nacewa (Leinster) all impressed.

10 Danny Cipriani (Wasps): A display of impressive control from Cipriani against La Rochelle as the timing of his attacking game had the French side clutching at thin air on many an occasion. The Wasps backline was a joy to watch and Cipriani’s distribution and movement as first and second distributor always kept La Rochelle guessing. Christian Lealiifano (Ulster) earns a mention here too for his showing.

9 Dan Robson (Wasps): Completing a Wasps half-back combination this Monday is man-of-the-match Robson. His support play has, for a long time, been one of his strong points and he was always on the shoulder on Sunday. Gareth Davies of the Scarlets and the in-form John Cooney of Ulster get mentions here while Morgan Parra kicked well for Clermont and Ben Spencer‘s general display also receives a nod.

8 CJ Stander (Munster): Such was the impact Stander had on the game at Welford Road, he gets our eight jersey here ahead of Leone Nakarawa, Nathan Hughes and Fritz Lee of Racing 92, Wasps and Clermont respectively. A key try from the Munster workhorse to go with 18 carries as he shone in a Munster back-row that looks so well balanced at the moment. Stander is such a key cog in this Munster machine.

7 Francois Louw (Bath): Man-of-the-match in one of the games of the weekend as Louw’s return to the side offset the loss of Taulupe Faletau. Louw was tireless against Toulon, making several carries and 19 tackles, while he made the third most passes in the Bath side, showing how he linked their game. His personal battle with fellow countryman Duane Vermeulen was also an interesting watch, with both smiling after.

6 Peter O’Mahony (Munster): In matches such as the one at Welford Road, leaders step forward and O’Mahony is certainly that. The Irish international stole the vital line-out that led to Conor Murray’s break and Stander’s try in a typically commanding performance.

5 Sebastien Vahaamahina (Clermont): The French international delivered a busy shift in his side’s narrow win over Saracens and did plenty of grafting in the forward exchanges. Vahaamahina did well on defence, completing nine tackles and was a willing ball carrier, gaining 28 metres from 13 runs with one clean break, three defenders beaten and also managed an offload. Beats out Toulon’s Samu Manoa.

4 Bradley Davies (Ospreys): Was one of the Welsh region’s unsung heroes during a fine performance against Northampton Saints. Did well in the line-outs and was strong on defence where he made 12 tackles. Davies also got through a shift in the loose where he cleaned out the rucks with great intent.

3 Vincent Koch (Saracens): One of Saracens’ most improved players, the Springbok’s ball carrying was impressive in their narrow defeat at Clermont. Koch finished with 44 metres gained from six runs with two clean breaks and one defender beaten. He was also solid in the scrums and caught the eye on defence with eight hits. Dmitri Arhip of the Ospreys also impressed.

2 Tom Dunn (Bath): Was at the forefront of the Premiership side’s forward effort in their epic win against Toulon. For the second successive week, Dunn played for a full 80 minutes and, just like the corresponding fixture in Toulon, he led from the front on defence as he made a whopping 33 tackles, which was two more than his previous effort.

1 Beno Obano (Bath): Dunn’s front-row partner was one of his side’s standout performers after a solid shift up front. Ran a superb angle to score the opening try in the first minute but impressed in his core duties and stood up well in the scrums. Obano also made an impact in executing his defensive duties with 13 tackles.