September 21, 2020, 8:26

Team of the week: Star performers in the final round of the Champions Cup pool stage

Team of the week: Star performers in the final round of the Champions Cup pool stage

We pick our combined XV of the players who stood out in each position from the weekend’s final Champions Cup pool matches…

15. Will Addison (Ulster)

The full-back crossed the line for Ulster’s decisive third try in their home win against Bath. It helped them secure the 22-15 win which took them into the Champions Cup quarter-finals.

Addison gained 101 metres during the match, the fourth-best figure across the weekend, helping Ulster grind out a home victory. It was a continuation of strong individual form during the pool stage for Dan McFarland’s side.

14. Rob Baloucoune (Ulster)

Baloucoune played a significant role in helping Ulster progress to the knockout stages with the wing scoring at the start of the second half against Bath.

The 22-year-old back’s first try in the competition this season gave Ulster the upper hand at Kingspan in a match which proved much tighter than expected.

13. Virimi Vakatawa (Racing 92)

Vakatawa scored twice in Racing 92’s 27-24 defeat at Saracens on Sunday to take his tally to four for the European campaign. The powerful centre’s performance almost eliminated the defending champions as he caused them significant problems.

Beating nine players during the match, Vakatawa made 82 metres and again underlined his status as one of the most potent backs in the tournament.

12. Brad Barritt (Saracens)

Saracens’ focus has switched to defending the Champions Cup after their relegation from the Premiership was confirmed. But their European hopes were pushed to the limit at Allianz Park with Will Skelton sent off in the first half. Barritt led from the front for Saracens with his experience guiding them through more adversity against Racing 92.

Barritt’s renowned defensive ability was influential for the hosts with Saracens forced to hold off their Top 14 opponents as they edged through to a quarter-final at unbeaten Leinster in the spring.

11. Cheslin Kolbe (Toulouse)

Electric feet and a great passing game, his defence was also exceptional including a try-saving tackle on Ollie Thorley.

World Cup winner Kolbe was a threat for Toulouse in their 35-14 victory against Gloucester, providing two clean breaks and helping maintain his side’s 100 per cent record in this season’s tournament.

10. Romain Ntamack (Toulouse)

Ntamack has been instrumental in Toulouse’s flawless passage through to the knockout stages. The France fly-half scored twice in their bonus-point victory against Gloucester.

His flair and attacking ability was on show at Stade Ernest Wallon, beating seven Gloucester players. Ntamack’s kicking game was another key component for the pool winners.

9. Ali Price (Glasgow)

Glasgow came up agonisingly short in their bid to progress but Price excelled in their dominant win at Sale. The scrum-half helped dictate the contest, with the visitors crossing the line six times in their 45-7 win.

Price flourished with the ball in hand and was integral in leading the Warriors’ ruthless attacking performance. He provided three offloads and made an impressive contribution for Dave Rennie’s team.

1. Beno Obano (Bath)

Bath put up a strong fight against Ulster and Obano was one of their stand-out performers, even though the Premiership side were beaten for the sixth time in the pool.

The powerful prop made eight tackles but was also a threat with the ball in hand, making eight carries during 59 minutes on the pitch.

2. Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter Chiefs)

Cowan-Dickie scored Exeter’s opening try as the Chiefs clinched a home quarter-final. The hooker excelled for Exeter, making 16 carries in the bonus-point win against La Rochelle.

The forward also made three offloads for Rob Baxter’s side and provided a cutting edge for the Chiefs as they advanced to the last-eight for the second time.

3. Charlie Faumuina (Toulouse)

Faumuina helped the Toulouse pack absolutely dominate the Gloucester scrum in their closing pool win.

The New Zealand-born prop came off with an injury and Toulouse will be hoping he is back in action soon, especially with the knockout stage to come in a couple of months.

4. Courtney Lawes (Northampton)

Lawes delivered an impressive display as Northampton pulled off a win in Lyon to progress as one of the best runners-up. His combative performance for the Saints helped to secure a rare victory in France.

The England forward made 11 tackles for Northampton and eight carries during a strong all-round display for the Premiership side.

5. James Ryan (Leinster)

Ryan has been in excellent form this season during Leinster’s outstanding pool stage and again starred in their victory at Benetton. The Ireland lock made 19 tackles against the Italian side and also claimed a lineout steal.

His contribution with the ball in hand was also significant as Ryan made 16 carries for the Champions Cup top seeds.

6. Rynhardt Elstadt (Toulouse)

Elstadt’s all-action performance caught the eye for Toulouse in their closing pool win over Gloucester. The South African flanker produced an authoritative display for the unbeaten French side.

He was named man-of-the-match in their pool opener against the Premiership club and Elstadt’s dynamism again troubled them in the return game.

7. Ben Earl (Saracens)

Earl’s growing reputation has earned the uncapped forward a spot in England’s Six Nations squad. The 22-year-old continued his rapid progress with an eye-catching showing in Saracens’ win against Racing 92.

He made 16 carries during the holders’ victory and his ability to break forward was a major asset as Saracens fought back to edge past their opponents.


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