Team of the Week: Premiership & PRO14 standouts combine with Red Roses


3:56 Highlights of England Women’s 20-10 win over France Ladies at Clermont’s Stade Marcel Michelin

12. Francois Venter (Worcester Warriors)

At 14-3 down to Harlequins at the Stoop on Saturday in terrible conditions, many would have bet against Worcester getting back into things.

Yet, the Warriors came roaring back through the boot of Jono Lance and a Jamie Shillcock try registering a 19-14 away success. South African centre Venter was one of a few to catch the eye, and gets the call-up to our team as a result after he made 12 carries, seven tackles, one clean break and beat one defender.

11. Steff Evans (Scarlets)

Scarlets clinched a last-gasp 20-17 win over Benetton on Saturday night, and their standout performer was undoubtedly wing Evans, who picked up the man-of-the-match award.

10. Jarrod Evans (Cardiff Blues)

Beginning in the 12 shirt for the Blues at home to the Cheetahs, Evans was shifted to the out-half role just half an hour in after a Jason Tovey injury, with Cardiff 14-11 behind.

Having missed out on the Wales Rugby World Cup squad, Evans has a point to prove this season.

9. George Horne (Glasgow Warriors)

Glasgow turned things on to plunder 31 points past Zebre in Italy on Saturday, with scrum-half Horne notching two tries in the victory.

The half-back has exceptional pace and is one of the most exciting young players around at the moment. Surely, his consistent performances are now such that he is the Scotland first-choice nine in waiting.

1. Beno Obano (Bath)

Despite losing Aled Brew to a red card early in the second half, bottom-placed Bath still managed to turn over table-toppers Northampton at the Rec on Saturday.

Critical to this was a fabulous scrum performance, with Obano on the loosehead side outstanding for his 71 minutes on the park. The prop also made nine tackles, six carries and beat two defenders.

Seven penalties and two free kicks were won at the scrum, however, and that was the main platform for a 22-13 win.

2. Ronan Kelleher (Leinster)

Leinster put in a dominant display against Connacht in Galway on Friday, romping to a 42-11 win at the Sportsground.

Key to their success was 21-year-old hooker Kelleher who made 15 carries – no one made more – 12 tackles, two clean breaks and scored two tries, taking his tally for the season to six already. He’s a serious talent it seems.

Any tighthead prop who lasts 71 minutes of play in the current era, and is part of a front-row which forced seven scrum penalties as part of a 14-man Premiership victory deserves to walk straight into our team, and so Stuart does.

Alongside Obano, Stuart was relentless with his work-rate and physicality in the tight exchanges as Bath put Brew’s red card to one side as they powered their way to victory over league-leaders Northampton.

As well as his work at the set-piece, Stuart also chipped in with a try on 50 minutes in the 22-13 win.

4. Nick Isiekwe (Saracens)

The spotlight was firmly on Saracens’ players as they headed to face Gloucester at Kingsholm on Saturday, after a week of incessant bad press following confirmation of their salary cap breaches, the ensuing 35 point deduction and £5m fine, as well as failing to turn up to Wednesday’s Champions Cup launch.

On the pitch, the players responded to the pressure with a super display of power, control and the clinical nature with which they are famed. Second row Isiekwe typified this with some 16 tackles, as well as five carries in driving rain and a commanding lineout display.

5. Chris Vui (Bristol)

Bristol moved to the top of the Premiership standings in thrilling fashion on Sunday as they came from 17-0 behind to win 20-17 at Exeter’s Sandy Park with a try at the death.

Samoa lock Vui was superb again as he chipped in with 10 carries, eight tackles, one turnover, one offload and two lineout takes in an 80-minute outing which must rank high in Bristol’s list of greatest days.

6. Dan du Preez (Sale Sharks)

We’ve shifted Du Preez to blindside to get him into our XV this week after a standout display in Sale’s Friday night victory over Wasps in the Premiership.

The back-row contributed Sale’s only try in the 28-18 victory, in addition to nine carries for 45 metres, seven tackles, three defenders beaten, one clean break and some stunning offloading in an 80 minute shift.

7. Thembelani Bholi (Southern Kings)

Within the Kings’ historic PRO14 victory over Ospreys, openside flanker Bholi put in one of the best individual performances of the weekend.

The back-row put in a phenomenal 22 tackles – nobody made more, while also carrying nine times for some 40 metres. Bholi also beat one defender and forced one turnover in victory.

8. Sarah Hunter (England Women)

The Red Roses faced a France side who had lost just once in 18 Tests on home soil at the Stade Marcel Michelin on Saturday, with captain Hunter guiding them to a memorable success.

Hunter was pivotal, notching both of England’s tries – the first at the back of a rolling maul and the second in a close-range dive. She also led her side superbly and calmly in the marquee win.


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