Champions Cup Team of Round Five

Champions Cup Team of Round Five
Champions Cup rugby returned with a bang this weekend as we edge ever closer to the quarter-finals of the competition.
This weekend saw a number of sides battle it out for a place in the quarters while others gave some game time to some youth as their hopes were already dashed.

Before we get into the team of the week, here is how seeds look heading into the final round:

Here it is:

1. Oli Kebble - Glasgow Warriors

Battled well in the scrum made 13 tackles and was busy overall in the drawn clash at Scotstoun. Francois van Wyk was brilliant for Northampton Saints while Val Rapava Ruskin impressed for Gloucester.
2. Luke Cowan-Dickie - Exeter Chiefs
Another busy game from Exeter's England International against Glasgow on Saturday. He made 13 carries, 11 tackles and came up with a turnover while being accurate in the set pieces. Not much more you can ask for from your hooker.
The Harlequins' Max Crumpton was just as solid for his side as too did Jack Singleton while John Ulugia was good for Clermont despite giving away a few penalties. 

3. Charlie Faumuina - Toulouse
The former All Black was solid in the scrum, as per usual, but it was his work around the pitch that really impressed. He made 15 carries at the Sportsground and like the runner up for the #3 jersey, he linked up superbly with some slick hands and offloads.
Kyle Sinckler comes in a close second to Faumuina with both players having similar games for their sides.

4. Sebastien Vahaamahina - Clermont
Toulouse's Florian Verhaeghe impressed for Toulouse with a busy performance against Connacht but Sebastien Vahaamhina was on top form for Clermont. He was excellent in running Clermont's line out and was smashing players backwards on defence.

Alun Wyn Jones returned in fine form for the struggling Ospreys while both Scott Fardy and Devin Toner were strong for Leinster.
5. Boris Palu - Racing 92
We could see more of Palu come the Six Nations as he looks to make his test debut and if his game against Munster is anything to go by, Palu is going to be a joy to watch at test level. He was absolutely everywhere against Munster making 10 carries, 16 tackles (without missing) and won two turnovers. He was physically dominant against a Munster pack that never backs down.
A hat tip to Gavin Thornbury who work tirelessly on defence against Toulouse and Palu's opposite number Jean Kleyn.

6. Nick Isiekwe - Saracens
Peter O'Mahony had some excellent moments against Racing 92 that could have put the result in his side's favour. Sean Reidy also stepped up for Ulster and was another that was unlucky not to have his efforts rewarded.
That trend this weekend extends to Benetton's Marco Lazzaroni. Ruan Ackermann also had a busy game for Gloucester but is pipped by Saracens' Nick Isiekwe.
The Saracens' back-rower was extremely hard working for his side making a last-ditch tackle denying Ospreys a try. The Premiership club needed a massive collective defensive shift to win despite being down a man for 75 minutes and Isiekwe was a standout for the side.
He was also brilliant at the breakdown.

7. Alexandre Fischer - Clermont
There were a number of standout performances that deserve a mention on the open side of the scrum this weekend but none impressed as much as Clermont's Alexandre Fischer.
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Fischer's inclusion in the France Six Nations squad raised a few eyebrows and questions but the flanker came off the bench for the injured Arthur Iturria and put in a man of the match shift to guide Clermont to victory. He pilfered over the ball superbly to stop a number of Ulster's promising attacks and the way he is going he may just start France's opening Six Nations game against England.
The likes of Josh van der Flier, Jerome Kaino, Jacques Vermeulen, Lewis Ludlam and Bernard Le Roux all deserve a mention for their efforts.
8. Alex Dombrandt - Harlequins
Another tightly contested position with Matt Kvesic, Gregory Alldritt, Marcell Coetzee, Jackson Wray and Teimana Harrison all putting in excellent shifts this weekend.
The Harlequins' Alex Dombrandt just nabs the #8 jersey and only just.
He was man of the match against Bath making 10 carries, 13 tackles, 85 running meters and scored try to see the Quins to a 19-25 win. 
9. Tawera Kerr-Barlow- La Rochelle
Teddy Iribaren and Richard Wigglesworth both had exceptional games this weekend in their respective wins but in the end, it was Kerr-Barlow's heroics against Sale that gets him a place in the side.
He played a big role in all that La Rochelle did well, scored an excellent intercept try and assisted another and made over 90 running metres.

10. Finn Russell - Racing 92

Russell managed to unlock Munster's excellent defensive structure with the help of Virmi Vakatawa as Racing 92 claimed a quarter-final spot.
He beats the impressive Adam Hastings who is extremely unlucky to miss out as well as Manu Vunipola who was brilliant in controlling things for Saracens while being a man down.
However, Russell assisted two tries for Racing 92 and mixed up his game superbly taking on the Munster defence.
11. Taqele Naiyaravoro - Northampton Saints
Near impossible to select a left-wing this weekend with Kyle Steyn, Arthur Retiere, Luke Morgan, Aliverti Raka and Ollie Thorley.
So the winger that claimed the jersey had to do something truly special to nick it from the others. And Taqele Naiyaravoro did just that as he led the second-half onslaught to guide Northampton to victory.
He made over 140 running metres, beaten 12 defenders, made three clean breaks, 8 offloads and assisted a try.


12. George Moala - Clermont

There were a few contenders for the #12 jersey but none were as deserving of a place in our team of the week than former All Black George Moala.
Moala was pipped to the match of the match award against Ulster by Alexandre Fischer but in all fairness, it could have gone either way.
The powerful centre topped the running metres (90), clean breaks (2) and defenders beaten (9) in the win over Ulster as well as adding a try to cap off an impressive performance.
13.Virmi Vakatawa - Racing 92

While Garry Ringrose impressed for Leinster and Isaia Toeava for Clermont, there was really only one winner here and it came in the very last game of the weekend.
Vakatawa almost single-handedly took the Munster defence apart to set up Racing 92's win in Paris.
He was sublime on attack making over 100 running metres, beat 11 defenders, made three clean breaks and offloaded four times. He also scored a crucial try as Racing chased the bonus point and potentially home quarter and semi-final.
14. Rees-Zammit - Gloucester
Damian Penuad and Teddy Thomas could have easily snuck in ahead of Gloucester's teen sensational with all three players putting in match-winning performances.

Rees-Zammit produced an excellent offload for Willi Heinz to score and went onto score a try that kept Gloucester's slim hopes of making the quarter-finals alive.

15. Glenn Bryce - Glasgow Warriors
Stuart Hogg returned to Scotstoun and almost won the match against his former side but it was the man that now wears Hogg's old jersey that features in our team of the week, Glenn Bryce.

Bryce was excellent in all facets of the game making a modest 47 running metres but being overall solid for his side. He beats Jason Woodward to a place in the side while Brice Dulin was also great against Munster.

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