Team of the Weekend: December 18th

by Ultimate Rugby

1. Guthro Steenkamp

The South African loose head prop put in a stellar display for Toulouse in the win over Zebre at the Stade Ernest-Wallon.

Steenkamp capped off his all-round dominant performance by bagging himself a well-earned score in the eight try romp.

2. Sean Cronin

The Leinster hooker was in a sensational form once again, Cronin worked tirelessly in the loose, providing accurate ball at lineout and solidity at set piece.

He thoroughly deserved the man of the match award and was a constant threat with ball in hand.

Rounded off the night with a well taken try following an initial speedy break from the Leinster 22.



3. Tadhg Furlong

The Leinster tighthead was immense once again, he turned in another superb scrummaging performance providing Leinster with a solid platform to attack off all night.

Furlong put in some heavy carries and covered a huge amount of ground for a prop forward with some bullish carries.

Furlong was rewarded with a try in the second half powering over from short range. 

4. Donnacha Ryan

The Munster lock put in a valiant effort in defeat in a close encounter at Welford Road.

Ryan’s work rate was outstanding, making countless amounts of tackles and carries. A menace at the lineout – making sure Tigers didn’t get clean ball.

5. Jonny Gray

The Glasgow co-captain was outstanding once again as the Warriors claimed a heroic back to back victory over last year’s finalists at Scotstoun.

The second-row stood out for his strong carries, high tackle count and work rate around the park. Further enhancing his claim to be included in next summer’s Lions Tour.

Gray made 12 tackles, 12 carries and a crucial lineout steal.

At just 22 years of age, Gray is only getting started. In 2016, he has made 373 tackles and only missed 5.

6. Thierry Dusatoir

The Toulouse flanker showed his true colours in a phenomenal back row display, Dusatoir was fearless in defence and made hard yards for his side in the opening phases to lay down a marker for his side.

7. Schalk Burger

The former World Cup winner was terrific as Saracens claimed a 13th straight win in the Champions Cup.

The South African's hard ball carrying and presence at the breakdown caused trouble all night for the Sharks all night.

A well deserved man-of-the-match award for his efforts.

8. Josh Strauss

The Glasgow back row marked his 100th appearance for the Warriors with the opening try of the night, receiving an inside ball from Stuart Hogg to power over for a excellent score.

Strauss came in at No. 8 for the game and played a leading role in withstanding the physical challenge of the Racing 92 pack. 

Strauss ran for 49 metres with nine carries and making nine tackles.

Impressively keeping them scoreless until the 79th minute of the tie.

9. Ben Youngs

The England scrum-half was excellent for the Tigers and redeemed himself for a potential Lions starting role.

Youngs led the charge for the side and even claimed a crucial turnover at the breakdown.

He managed to get his side on the front foot early and linked up well with stand-in fly-half Owen Williams. 

10. Finn Russell

The Glasgow out-half was superb once again for his side. Russell put his side on the front foot, he played flat to the line and was a constant threat with the ball in hand.

An early chip over the Racing defence sparked an attack that led to his sides first try. He was the creator of his sides second try releasing Brown to score while also adding the extras.

Russell kicked eight points, try-assist, made four clean breaks and beat 10 defenders with three offloads.

It was a phenomenal performance for this potential Lions bolter.

11. Nick Abendanon

The Clermont back was in scintillating form once again at the Stade Marcel-Michelin.

Scoring a brace of tries in the opening 25 minutes of the clash. He showed his fantastic finishing prowess, catching a poorly played pass by Lamerat, who made it as hard as possible for the former England international.

Abendanon's second was one of the tries of the weekend as he latched onto a fine cross field from Camille Lopez and dived over in the corner. It is no suprise the Clermont coaching staff have switched the pacy full back onto the wing.

12. Toby Flood

Flood scored a try and 14 points from the tee in an emphatic win over Zebre. The former England international was almost unplayable in the one sided encounter, threatening from deep inside the his own 22.

Flood created a fantastic score for Perez from his inital break, neatly offloading to keep the attack alive before the winger raced away for a fine score.


13. Hadleigh Parkes

The New Zealander put in a stellar performance as the Scarlets midfield stole the headlines, with Parkes a key figure in the stunning victory over Toulon.

Parkes created the only try of the game for his midfield partner, twice piercing through the visitors' defence before Williams scored and was a constant menace with ball in hand.

He produced one shuddering hit on Nonu to dislodge the ball when Toulon looked like crossing for a second half try.



14. Isa Nacewa

The Leinster captain lead from the front in the 9 try win over the Saints. He caused constant havoc for the Saints defense, with his incredible finishing abilities.

The Fijian played a key role in several of Leinster's tries, scoring a brace for his efforts. Nacewa showed his accuracy off the tee with a flawless performance as he nailed 6/7 attempts.

With a young exciting backline emerging at the province, Nacewa's experience will be crucial in guiding these academy prospects to their full potential.

15. Isaia Toeava

The former All Black Toeava scored a sublime try for Clermont. Toeava played for the All Blacks in the 2011 Rugby World Cup - set the scene for Clermont 38-19 win over Ulster with a sensational first-minute try.

The full back broke Ulster's defensive line and beat Tommy Bowe with a deft sidestep to provide his side with the opening try.