Team of the Week: Champions Cup, Round Six

Date published: January 21 2019

Now that the dust has settled on Round Six of the Champions Cup, we have gone through the action to pick the best players from the recent matches.

There’s a healthy mix of teams represented this week as 10 clubs are involved, with Edinburgh and Munster leading the way in our selection.

So without further ado, here’s our side.

Champions Cup: Team of Round Six

15 Jack Nowell (Exeter Chiefs): Johnny McNicholl came close to snatching our 15 shirt after his two-try performance at Racing 92 while Mike Haley was solid again for Munster. But we go for Haley’s opposite number here as Nowell backed up last week’s showing with a strong outing at full-back. He finished the match at Thomond Park with 176 metres from 20 carries, sending another message to Eddie Jones.

14 Matt Banahan (Gloucester): That was some performance from the former Bath favourite as he set up three tries, albeit in a loss to Castres. His power with ball in hand was mixed with delicate touches as he edges Simon Zebo (Racing 92) and Andrew Conway (Munster).

13 Florian Vialelle (Castres): 97 metres made, two tries and an assist from the Castres man as he sees off Cardiff Blues back Harri Millard and Toulon powerhouse Josua Tuisova, who were both impressive over the weekend. Vialelle deservedly gets the nod here though.

12 Henry Chavancy (Racing 92): Josh Matavesi was excellent for Newcastle Falcons with a try and assist in a narrow defeat to Toulon, but Chavancy just edges this battle for our 12 shirt. An underrated centre who is flourishing in an exciting Racing 92 backline.

11 Duhan van der Merwe (Edinburgh): Arguably the form player in the Champions Cup at the moment, Van der Merwe was his usual destructive self against Montpellier. While Aled Summerhill and Steff Evans did well for Cardiff Blues and Scarlets respectively, it was always going to be tough to grab this jersey off the huge Edinburgh wing. What a specimen he is as he came back to haunt his former club.

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10 Louis Carbonel (Toulon): Some lovely touches from the young French fly-half as Toulon kicked off the round with a morale-boosting victory at Newcastle Falcons. Set up their first try with a nice inside ball and also had a big hand in their second with a spin out of contact before offloading as he sees off Racing 92’s Finn Russell and Joey Carbery, the latter putting in another steady showing for Munster.

9 Tomos Williams (Cardiff Blues): We go for a scrum-half who continues to push for regular game time at international level, Williams. It was another all-action performance as he put on a real show against Lyon. Fully deserved his try and set up another with a brilliant offload to Owen Lane. Jamison Gibson-Park of Leinster also did well over the weekend as he made the holders tick at nine.

8 CJ Stander (Munster): 25 tackles from the number eight as while it wasn’t a pretty performance, he ticked the boxes which got Munster over the finish line with their noses in front. The man he’ll face in their Six Nations opener, Billy Vunipola, also impressed.

7 Don Armand (Exeter Chiefs): It might have been the lowest scoring game of the round but it was the most absorbing. Armand led an Exeter side from the front and took his try well, however it was in vain as they count the cost of a sluggish start to their pool.

6 Peter O’Mahony (Munster): While it was by no means a flashy showing in terms of steals and offloads, it is worth thinking whether Munster would have won had O’Mahony not recovered from injury in time for Saturday. The answer is probably no and his leadership once again played a key role for Munster in Europe as they edged out Exeter. His presence cannot be underplayed and he was a rock again.

5 Tadhg Beirne (Munster): What a shame for both player and country that Beirne will miss Ireland‘s opening two games of this year’s Six Nations due to injury. He has been on another level of late and dominated the breakdown against Exeter. The lock will soon be back on the field though and if he can replicate these performances Munster will go far. A mention for James Ryan too, who was superb for Leinster.

4 Maro Itoje (Saracens): Ulster second-row Iain Henderson was dominant against Leicester, picking up the man-of-the-match award at Welford Road. However, it had to be Itoje here as he looked back to his best on Saturday in Saracens’ victory over Glasgow Warriors. 14 carries for 47 metres and a team high 20 tackles sees him get the nod as he hits form at just the right time for England ahead of February.

3 WP Nel (Edinburgh): Outstanding against Montpellier on Friday, Nel showed all of his qualities to help Edinburgh book their ticket to the knockout stage. Such a strong scrummager who laid the foundations for his team’s win, he sees off Leicester’s Dan Cole here.

2 Sean Cronin (Leinster): A tough call on in-form Edinburgh hooker Stuart McInally but we settle on Cronin here. The Ireland international is now joint top of the Champions Cup try-scoring charts this season as he grabbed a brace against Wasps. Always able to get past the first tackle with his upper body power and leg drive causing opposition defences issues, Leinster will be delighted with his form.

1 Pierre Schoeman (Edinburgh): A hugely impressive performance up front from the South African prop as he got the better of his fellow countryman Jannie du Plessis on Friday. Effective around the field with his carries but it was Schoeman’s work at the scrum that earns him special praise as Montpellier head coach Vern Cotter was forced to replace Du Plessis with only half-an-hour gone at Murrayfield.