March 24, 2019, 13:49

Team of the week: Jessica Breach among Home Nations’ standouts

Team of the week: Jessica Breach among Home Nations’ standouts

Jessica Breach’s dazzling debut gets her into our team of the week along with several standouts from the Home Nations.

We enjoyed another weekend jam-packed with rugby action and as such have a XV loaded with players from 10 different teams…

15. Stuart Hogg (Scotland)

What a performance Hogg put in against the All Blacks on Saturday. The full-back showed off his full range of skills to earn the man of the match award in a 22-17 defeat.

Solid in the air, it’s in attack where the 25-year-old really comes alive, and New Zealand struggled to live with him at Murrayfield. He made 117 metres off 17 carries, made three clean breaks and beat six defenders.

His kicking game was also superb as he moved the All Black back division around expertly and also played through a cute grubber which led to Huw Jones’ try. His barnstorming run at the end was truly magnificent and was so close to clinching a memorable result.

14. Bryce Heem (Worcester Warriors)

If ever a side needed a victory this weekend it was Worcester Warriors in the Aviva Premiership and Kiwi wing Heem made sure they got it with his hat-trick against Northampton.

The pivotal 30-15 bonus-point win was Worcester’s first of the season and lifted them off the foot of the table, two points above London Irish.

The 28-year-old proved in unstoppable form and is a worthy addition to our team.

13. Huw Jones (Scotland)

Scotland were superb against the All Blacks, dominating the ball for long periods and Jones once again proved he’s a player full of quality.

The 23-year-old notched his sixth Test try late on, giving the Scots a final chance to pinch it and stood up for 12 carries throughout the 80 minutes.

He made 43 metres with ball in hand, beat two defenders, threw one offload and earned a turnover in a well-rounded display from the centre.

12. Sonny Bill Williams (New Zealand)

New Zealand held on for a slender victory over Scotland and the most impressive All Black on the pitch was inside centre Williams.

Robust in defence, Williams created two of New Zealand’s three tries with his inch-perfect kick-through gobbled up by Damian McKenzie and his trademark spectacular offload pivotal in Beauden Barrett’s late score.

A total of 13 tackles with only one missed and 11 carries for 40 metres aren’t shabby numbers either.

11. Jessica Breach (England Women)

It’s not very often you hear of a rugby player notching six tries…in fact, have you ever heard of that?!

Well, that’s exactly what England Women’s wing Jessica Breach managed in their 79-5 destruction of Canada at Allianz Park on Friday, and on her debut no less!

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November 21, 2017, 7:30pm

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What an extraordinary day for the 20-year-old, whose name is one to look out for in the future.

10. Joey Carbery (Ireland)

Carbery headed into Ireland’s clash with Fiji under an enormous amount of pressure, both to fill the shoes of Johnny Sexton and prove he was capable of running a Test match in the 10 shirt.

Though not a perfect display, Carbery showed moments of absolute genius in the 23-20 victory against the Fijians before succumbing to a suspected fractured forearm.

Joey Carbery impressed at fly-half for Ireland against Fiji

His step, line-break and left-hand pass for Darren Sweetnam’s opening try is up there with the best piece of play from the weekend.

A mention too for All Black Beauden Barrett, who played a big role in ensuring they saw off Scotland.

9. Rhys Webb (Wales)

Webb went into Wales’ clash with Georgia with a point to prove after it was confirmed his impending transfer to Toulon will effectively end his Test career.

In a game of few positives for Warren Gatland, Webb stood out as the home side just about got over the line in a 13-6 victory.

The tempo of his play and passing was the difference against a huge Georgia pack, with his quick-tap penalty creating Hallom Amos’ try.

1. Cian Healy (Ireland)

Healy came on as a second-half replacement against Fiji, and made an immediate impact on the game with his ball carrying.

Cian Healy had a major impact for Ireland against Fiji in Dublin

The loosehead prop carried seven times for 44 metres, beating four defenders in the process. The injection from the 30-year-old came at the right time for Joe Schmidt’s side, helping to wrestle the game away from the Fijians who had drawn level early in the second half.

2. Codie Taylor (New Zealand)

Taylor came into the All Blacks side to replace the injured Dane Coles, and his performance will have eased concerns felt by Steve Hansen after losing his star hooker.

Taylor scored the opening try in Edinburgh, which broke the 3-3 deadlock, and was hardworking throughout with a contribution of 57 metres from his seven carries, as well as 12 tackles.

The hooker also performed well in the lineout, successfully finding jumpers with 17 out of his 18 throws.

3. Levan Chilachava (Georgia)

After the chaotic end to Wales’ win over Georgia there were accusations levelled at Wales of gamesmanship. Warren Gatland denied the claims, but there was no denying the pressure that Wales were under at the Principality Stadium.

England vs Samoa

November 25, 2017, 2:45pm

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Georgia’s scrum, led by cornerstone Chilachava, kept the visitors in the game, and very nearly helped them claim a famous win. It was a scrummaging effort that will have pleased all fans of front row.

4. Joe Launchbury (England)

England continued their winning streak at Twickenham with a 30-6 victory over Australia, but the first 70 minutes were much tougher than the scoreline suggests as there were only seven points in it with ten minutes remaining.

Joe Launchbury analyses his man of the match performance against Australia

Eddie Jones’ troops were forced to repel the Wallabies for long periods of the match, making 130 tackles to the visitors’ 82, and nobody put in more tackles for England than man of the match Launchbury.

The Wasps skipper put in 19 hits at Twickenham as Australia went try-less in a record defeat to England.

5. Jonny Gray (Scotland)

It was an energy-sapping performance from Scotland in Edinburgh, with Gray leading the forwards in front of the passionate home support.

The second rower was the go-to man in the lineouts, taking four throws, and tied with Hogg for the most carries by a Scottish player.

The Glasgow lock also scored a try and put in eight tackles to cap off a performance that Gregor Townsend will hope can be replicated next week against Australia.

6. Courtney Lawes (England)

Lawes wore the No 5 jersey but played the majority of the game on the side of the scrum after Sam Underhill was replaced by Maro Itoje early on.

Despite the positional switch Lawes was still the most called-upon member of the England lineout, and also managed a crucial steal off a Wallaby throw.

But he also showed his skills go beyond the set piece with involvement in the loose, including a soft offload to Nathan Hughes to release the No 8 down the touchline.

7. Pablo Matera (Argentina)

Argentina needed a pick-me-up after last week’s disappointing loss against England at Twickenham and their comprehensive 31-15 win in Italy was just the tonic.

Ireland vs Argentina

November 25, 2017, 5:15pm

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Though Matera featured in the victory on the blindside, he’s regularly featured on the openside and so we’ve managed to fit him into our team in the seven shirt.

The flanker made 10 carries for 47 metres – both in the top five of any player on the pitch – and also chipped in with seven tackles, five of which were ranked ‘dominant.’ He also beat four defenders and earned three turnovers.

8. Louis Picamoles (France)

France may have lost 18-17 to the Springboks on Saturday, but one of the performances of the day came from French No 8 Picamoles.

The loose forward made the most tackles of anyone on the pitch in Paris (25), the most metres (94) and was tied for second overall with Malcolm Marx for carries with 16.

The passion from the 67-Test international was evident in the way he broke down after the final whistle, later saying: “We’re disappointed, we’re angry because we’re fed up with losing.”

Unlucky to miss out is Ruan Ackermann, who was superb in Gloucester’s 23-17 victory over Saracens on Friday night.


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