World Rugby's Team of the Weekend: Finals Fever Hits Europe
The domestic season in Europe came to a thrilling end while the Super 15 signed off for a break while the international window takes centre stage.
There were some sterling performances in the nail-biting Aviva Premiership final between Northampton and Saracens while Jonny Wilkinson's Toulon rumbled their way to the double in France.
Here is the pick of the bunch.
15. Delon Armitage, Toulon
Armitage did his job well in a rather unspectacular Top 14 final in which Toulon beat Castres 18-10. But he earns his spot in this side for the booming penalty from the halfway line that sealed the deal.
If you are going to relieve Jonny Wilkinson of the kicking tee when the great man is still on the field, you had better make sure you convert that chance.
Armitage's extra length did just that.
14. Hosea Gear, Barbarians
Gear had a whale of a time in the black and white of the Barbarians at Twickenham. The invitational side ran out 39-29 winners against England and the All Black scored twice, showing he has lost none of his finishing power with bursts that took him past England defenders as though they weren't there.
11. George Moala, Auckland
Moala was another of those electric Blues backs who had a hugely effective night against the Hurricanes. Moala scored a try that was all about his pace and power and looked in great nick.
13. Rene Ranger, Barbarians
Ranger brought all his power and direct running to bear on England at Twickenham to help the Baa Baas to victory. He created a try with a spectacular burst and bump off one defender and made holes for the men outside him all afternoon.
12. Ma'a Nonu, Blues
Nonu was in the mood as the Blues took the Hurricanes apart. The centre made a telling burst for a move that swept his team up field and look dangerous on the charge all evening. Bad news for England.
10. Stephen Myler, Northampton
The Aviva Premiership final was a fraught, frenetic affair that shredded the nerves as it went down to the wire. But the man who kept his head while all about him were losing theirs was Saints No. 10 Myler. He kicked his goals, played territory beautifully and executed a wonderful chip that led to his side's first try.
9. Will Genia, Reds
Genia was in vintage form behind a powerful display from his pack of forwards against the Highlanders. The little Wallaby scrum-half undressed the New Zealanders twice with two deft kicks over the top that left defenders chasing shadows and his chasing wide players gobbling up the ball to score tries. Class.
8. Jerome Kaino, Blues
Kaino was in bullish mood for the Blues, bulldozing his way over for a try that illustrated his strength in all its glory. The No. 8 has a job on his hands shifting Kieran Read from that jersey in the national side, but a place in the No. 6 shirt would not be wasted on the Auckland man.
7. Juan Smith, Toulon
Smith continues to defy his age and injury record with the kind of performances that warrant international selection. He was integral to the smothering defence Toulon used to stop Castres' attacks catching fire and put in some shuddering hits, even late in the game.
6. Tom Wood, Northampton
Wood has led his side to two trophies in eight days, capping his best season yet. He was in the thick of the action throughout the tussle with Saracens on Saturday. England fans will just hope he has enough left in the tank to carry the fight to the All Blacks when he arrives.
4. Courtney Lawes, Northampton
Lawes, to use the old phrase, put himself about a bit on Saturday. In fact, he put himself about a lot. The lock made some bone-jarring tackles all over the field and roamed the wide spaces to help link attacks well. He really has developed into a world-class athlete with a tremendous rugby brain.
5. Samu Manoa, Northampton
Who else? Lawes' club mate has had an outstanding season and played a huge part in a physical encounter on Saturday. The American was a major workhorse in both ball-carrying and defence for the Saints as they duked it out with Saracens.
3. Charlie Faumuina, Blues
The Blues prop had a storming game against the men from Wellington. He is a young All Black with a bright future.
2. Schalk Brits, Saracens
Brits was again at the heart of much of the good things Saracens did on Saturday. There is no other hooker in world rugby who is so at home with the ball in his hands and a back line to run at. It's like having an extra centre on the field.
1. Alex Waller, Northampton
He was only a replacement at the fag end of a final, but Waller inked his name into Northampton Saints folklore with his last-minute try that sealed his club's first-ever Premiership title. Well done that man.
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