April 6, 2020, 20:59

Team of the week: Chris Ashton, Maro Itoje and Maxime Medard included

Team of the week: Chris Ashton, Maro Itoje and Maxime Medard included

England and Wales omissions line up with French stars returning to form in our latest team of the week….

15. Thomas Ramos (Toulouse)

A mention for Simon Zebo, who was impressive for Racing 92 in their victory over Ulster, but Thomas Ramos is in our team after he helped guide Toulouse to a thrilling victory over defending champions Leinster on Sunday.

Ramos slotted three penalties and two conversions for a 13-point haul at Stade Ernest-Wallon, keeping the home side ticking on the scoreboard as they held out for an unlikely win.

14. Chris Ashton (Sale Sharks)

“Chris is a try scorer, he’s a brilliant support player and he’s hungry,” Eddie Jones said of Chris Ashton this week, and no wonder; Ashton went over for three tries against Connacht in the Challenge Cup on Saturday.

We could be seeing more of the Ash Splash at Twickenham in next month’s Quilter Internationals, as Jones has indicated he has no issue picking the winger despite not playing much rugby recently.

13. Manu Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers)

Another player who could be making a welcome return to England duty is Manu Tuilagi, who carried 13 times for Leicester in their win over the Scarlets, beating eight defenders and scoring a try.

Tuilagi last featured on the international stage during the 2016 Six Nations, but is surely in line to take on the Springboks on November 3 after his recent performances.

12. Sofiane Guitoune (Toulouse)

Sofiane Guitoune played in the No 13 jersey over the weekend, but he showed such good footwork in that game that he’s stepped his way across to the No 12 berth for us.

Stade Francais vs Montpellier

October 27, 2018, 7:40pm

Live on

When Romain Ntamack went off injured, Guitoune was forced to partner with Yoann Huget in the centres, and showed he was up to the task of marshalling his side’s shape in midfield. On top of that, going around Jordan Larmour with such ease for a try was a sight to behold.

11. Maxime Medard (Toulouse)

While Ramos provided the points off the tee, Maxime Medard went over for two tries, the second of which clinched victory for the home side.

The 31-year-old ended a two year wait for an international cap when he featured in all three Tests against the All Blacks in June, and based on Sunday’s form, we will surely see more of him for Les Bleus in November.

10. Joel Hodgson (Newcastle Falcons)

While Joey Carbery and Adam Hastings were having fun in the sun, Joel Hodgson was doing it tough for the Falcons in the wind and rain at Kingston Park.

In a man-of-the-match performance, Hodgson slotted 13 points with the boot, and provided a beautiful pass for the opening try which set the tempo for a game that was won in incredible fashion by the Falcons, eight minutes after full time.

9. Joe Simpson (Wasps)

There was no winner at the Ricoh Arena as Bath and Wasps played to a 10-try stalemate, but Joe Simpson once again proved his worth to Dai Young’s side.

Simpson provided the pass for the try that levelled matters, but also went over for one of his own earlier in the game to cap off an all-round performance in Coventry.

1. Mikheil Nariashvili (Montpellier)

The wind wasn’t the only thing moving stuff around at Kingston Park; the Montpellier pack were marching their counterparts around the paddock at scrum time throughout the encounter.

Lyon vs Stade Francais

November 4, 2018, 11:25am

Live on

For his part in that dominant showing, Mikheil Nariashvili is in our team at loosehead prop, though the others in the French side’s front row are unlucky not to join him.

2. Stuart McInally (Edinburgh)

There were several good performances in the No 2 jersey over the weekend; Kyle Cooper was brilliant at the breakdown for Newcastle, while Racing 92’s Camille Chat carried 18 times and beat five defenders with the ball.

However, for his 15 carries and his try-scoring heroics against three-time champions Toulon, Edinburgh’s Stuart McInally is the man to occupy the hooker berth in our team of the week.

3. Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers)

The Leicester scrum had the better of Scarlets at Welford Road, and Dan Cole was at the heart of it. Left out of Jones’ England squad, Cole showcased his credentials at the set piece and effected turnovers in the loose.

Coventry vs Yorkshire Carnegie

October 27, 2018, 2:45pm

Live on

With England short of experience on the loosehead side of the scrum, has Jones made the right decision by leaving out the 85-cap tighthead?

4. Steve Mafi (Castres)

When you consider that Steve Mafi only carried the ball four times in Castres’ win over Exeter, it is incredible to think he beat nine defenders and made more metres (70) than any of his team-mates.

Of course that was helped by his galloping run for a solo try, but he was also solid in other areas; making nine tackles and taking five throws on his own lineout as well as one off a Chiefs feed.

5. Tadhg Beirne (Munster)

Ireland are blessed in the second row and back row, so it’s tough to find a spot in Joe Schmidt’s team for Tadhg Beine, but the Munster man is doing everything he can to put himself in contention.

Against Gloucester, Beirne was immovable at the breakdown – winning two steals – and put in 12 tackles as the visitors tried to inch their way into the game late-on at Thomond Park.

6. Maro Itoje (Saracens)

Maro Itoje has made 16 of his 22 starts for England in the second row, the other six as a No 6, so it is clear where Jones feels the Saracens man is most effective.

However, on top of his work at the lineout and with ball in hand, a good example of Itoje’s versatility came when he showed the strength to strip the ball from Lyon lock Etienne Oosthuizen and race 50 metres to go over untouched at the Allianz Arena. Where will Jones play him next month?

7. Thomas Young (Wasps)

It must be hugely frustrating for Thomas Young to be in such rich form and still not be picked for Wales. The Wasps man made more tackles against Bath than any of his team-mates – 18 of them – and also carried the ball 11 times.

Young’s most significant carry came when he supported well to take a Simpson pass on the back of Elliot Daly’s initial break, with the flanker going over for the try that was converted to earn Wasps the draw.

8. Viliame Mata (Edinburgh)

Viliame Mata was an unbelievable presence for Edinburgh in their victory over Toulon at Murrayfield. The No 8 made the most carries (22) and was one metre short of the 73 metres made by Dougie Fife which topped the charts for the home side.

Despite Toulon’s shortcomings this season, Richard Cockerill’s team had to work hard for their win, and Mata embodied the effort and mentality required for the job.

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