World Rugby's Team of the Weekend: Toulon Titans Show Their Class
The weekend saw Europe's top silverware settled and several domestic dust-ups in the Super XV.
There were plenty of big game performances from big names in Toulon's win over Saracens in the Heineken Cup final, while in the Super XV some of the danger men in Australia and New Zealand's best franchises showed signs of hitting top form.
Here are the finest 15 of the lot.
15. Israel Folau
Folau scored one and made another in a dominant Waratahs display over the Melbourne Rebels.
He has had a tremendous season so far for the Sydney side and played a huge part in their charge toward the finals of the Super XV.
14. Nemani Nadolo
The hulking Crusaders wing scored one try and played a part in the creation of two others as the Canterbury side beat the Highlanders in a riveting game in Dunedin.
The massive Fijian, having been eased into Super Rugby, is now becoming a wrecking ball for the Crusaders, coming off his wing to occupy a clutch of tacklers and creating space for others to exploit, as he did twice in this contest.
13. Malakai Fekitoa
Fekitoa had a sublime display against the Crusaders.
He created a try for Patrick Osborne with a beautiful outside break and started and finished a move in the second half with an equally well-timed run.
12. Matt Giteau
Giteau looked a cut above all the other midfielders on show in Cardiff in the Heineken Cup.
The Australian would surely be back in the Wallaby mix if he was playing on Australian soil, and may well find himself filling the boots of the departing Jonny Wilkinson in the No. 10 slot at Toulon next season.
His try was all about his intelligence, seeing the space, exploiting it and cashing in.
11. Julian Savea
Savea claimed a double in the Hurricanes’ Super XV win over the Chiefs and looked in fine form as England’s summer tour of New Zealand looms.
The winger cemented his reputation as one of the best counter attackers in the game, finishing off quick strikes after turnovers in the Hurricanes’ own half. The man is deadly.
10. Jonny Wilkinson
The smile that spread across the usually studied visage of England’s greatest ever fly-half said it all.
It was as though a tonne weight had been lifted from Wilkinson’s shoulders as he hoisted the Heineken Cup aloft.
He has one game left to deliver the domestic French title to his adopted home on the Mediterranean coast.
If he kicks at goal, and marshals his troops as confidently and successfully as he did against Saracens, he will do just that.
9. Aaron Smith
TJ Perenara of the Hurricanes has emerged as a genuine challenger to Aaron Smith for the All Blacks No. 9 jersey, and the Highlanders man played like he knows his shirt is in danger.
Smith's passing was a thing to behold against the Crusaders.
In particular, the ball he delivered to Malakai Fekitoa to allow the centre to ghost around his tackler for Patrick Osborne's try was inch-perfect, and he delivered the ball with similar quality for the centre to score in the second period.
8. Steffon Armitage
Armitage capped his man of the match display in the Heineken Cup final by being named Europe’s player of the year.
He still can’t get in the England squad, thanks to the RFU’s policy of not selecting overseas players, which rather makes the suit at Twickenham look as though they are taking a rusty knife to their own noses.
7. Juan Smith
Smith did not look like a man who once spent 31 months out of the game as he rampaged around the Millennium Stadium.
His try was the icing on the cake of a performance that delivered bone-shuddering hits, expert breakdown play and a world class back row 80 minutes.
6. Dave Dennis
Dennis had a stormer against the Melbourne Rebels as part of a fluid and formidable Waratahs back row trio with Michael Hooper and Wycliff Palu.
Dennis is the unsung hero of the three, but is mightily effective at his job in a side that only knows one way to play. Dennis forms a crucial part of Michael Cheika’s all-out attacking game plan.
5. Jacques Potgieter
The South African in the Waratahs ranks has been the form No. 6 in the Super XV this season, and was in ebullient form against the Rebels playing at lock.
He has little regard for his own body and has proved an impactful ball-carrier for Michael Cheika’s side, as well as a fearsome defender.
4. Bakkies Botha
Botha put in an immense display in Cardiff for Toulon. He threw himself into countless rucks, put in his usual hard work in scrum and lineout and tackled like a man 10 years his junior.
The lifestyle on the Cote d’Azur clearly suits the South African in the twilight of his career.
3. Carl Hayman
Hayman was the rock upon which Toulon built their forward effort in the Heineken Cup final.
His scrummaging was as powerful as the gloopy surface allowed it to be, and his work in the lineout was as exemplary as ever.
The former All Black is still arguably the best tight head in the world.
2. Schalk Brits
Brits carried the fight to Toulon as often and as hard as he could in a losing effort. The Saracens hooker displayed his power and pace at every opportunity and hit his men in the lineout.
None of it was enough against the muscular rearguard of Toulon, but Brits was not bowed in defeat.
1. Tim Perry
You're doing something right if you can keep an All Black prop out of your club side.
And if you can turn up with tries like the one Tim Perry scored against the Highlanders, you won't go far wrong.
A solid night's work for the Crusaders loose head.
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