Best XV in World Rugby for Weekend of November 27-29

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistNovember 30, 2015

Best XV in World Rugby for Weekend of November 27-29

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    A 48-18 drubbing of Worcester Warriors saw Saracens advance their campaign as Aviva Premiership leaders on Saturday, and Mark McCall's squad have had plenty of star performers this season.

    In France's Top 14, Toulon injected some much-needed life into their season after beating leaders Clermont Auvergne 35-9 at Marcel Michelin, while Dan Carter took in Racing 92's 28-13 victory over Toulouse.

    The Pro12 power race was tipped on its head after Connacht beat Munster in Limerick for the first time since 1986, where Bundee Aki grabbed the decisive try for Pat Lam's side.

    This weekend's action produced standout displays from all over Europe, and we've assembled the best of the bunch into our team of the week.

Back Three

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    15. Charles Piutau, Wasps

    Another day, another dazzling outing from Wasps upstart Charles Piutau, who blitzed his way to 113 carrying metres in the 33-15 thumping of London Irish at Twickenham on Saturday. 

    By extension, the full-back is helping the likes of Elliot Daly look a lot better, and Piutau was once again heavily involved as a running option across the line.

    14. Chris Ashton, Saracens

    Chris Ashton's brace of tries against Worcester typified his quality as a finishing presence, although newly installed England coach Eddie Jones might look upon the winger's defence as slightly more suspect.

    The Sarries star missed two of his five attempted tackles against London Irish, and only Worcester's Bryce Heem was able to beat his 58 carrying metres, an impressive figure considering the visitors took control of possession for long periods. 

    11. Telusa Veainu, Leicester Tigers

    Bath full-back Anthony Watson took some beating as this weekend's top runner of the ball, but Leicester wing Telusa Veainu managed the feat in the very same match after bolting his way to 150 carrying metres on Sunday.

    After Watson grabbed the opening try at Welford Road, Veainu got the Tigers back into the fixture with a 33rd-minute try en route to his side's 21-11 win, where he averaged more than 21 metres per carry.

Centres

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    13. Bundee Aki, Connacht

    Connacht ended a 29-year hoodoo at Thomond Park on Saturday, and it was thanks to a 77th-minute try from centre Aki that Lam's side were able to end their drought with an 18-12 win in Limerick.

    The New Zealander's 11 tackles meant he was the most active back in defence and the late, acrobatic finish provided the icing on the cake.

    12. Maxime Mermoz, Toulon

    Following a string of disappointments, everything clicked at the right time for Toulon on their trip to Clermont this Saturday, and it was largely thanks to a solid performance from Maxime Mermoz that the win was obtained.

    The France international was almost exclusively a catalyst for others in attack. However, 15 tackles and two turnovers saw him stand out as a motivational beacon in defence, limiting Aurelien Rougerie and Albert Vulivuli to a combined 14 carrying metres.

Half-Backs

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    10. Gareth Steenson, Exeter Chiefs

    Gareth Steenson piled the hurt on Harlequins this weekend, scoring 21 points as Exeter Chiefs recorded a 26-25 win that saw them retain their spot at second in the Premiership.

    It's a result that could come to have a huge impact in the playoff race, and Steenson led the assault and grabbed a try for his troubles to go along with a steady boot from the tee.

    9. Yann Lesgourgues, Bordeaux

    Bordeaux scrum-half Yann Lesgourgues showed fantastic initiative to glide over for a hat-trick of tries against Top 14 strugglers Pau, going outside the norm of a No. 9 and functioning as an effective off-shoulder option throughout.

Back Row

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    8. Nathan Hughes, Wasps

    No other player got near Wasps No. 8 Nathan Hughes in terms of carries made against London Irish over the weekend, attempting no fewer than 24 runs for an 89-metre gain in total.

    Sailosi Tagicakibau was the next most frequent carrier of the ball with 14, but back-row phenomenon Hughes stood out from the pack with his on-ball ability—he also stripped two turnovers.

    7. Justin Tipuric, Ospreys

    The Ospreys gave their Pro12 title quest a very welcome boost on Saturday after defeating rivals Cardiff Blues 13-6 at the Liberty Stadium.

    No. 7 Justin Tipuric saw his battle with Wales team-mate Sam Warburton ended early after the Wales captain injured his ankle in the first half. But Tipuric enjoyed a fruitful outing thanks to a haul of 14 tackles and one turnover to go along with 19 metres made in possession.

    6. Hugh Chalmers, Bordeaux

    Bordeaux flanker Hugh Chalmers shifts to the No. 6 jersey in our lineup despite enjoying an openside's performance against Pau, registering a monolithic 18 tackles in total.

    The 46-10 battering of Pau was the perfect way for the back-rower to celebrate his birthday, also carrying for 42 metres and showing great awareness to make a terrific four offloads.

Second Row

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    5. Alun Wyn Jones, Ospreys

    A leader's performance from Alun Wyn Jones if ever there was one as the Wales lock went over for the only try in the Ospreys' slim win over the Blues, recording 13 tackles and commanding his side to a valuable four points.

    4. Maro Itoje, Saracens

    Rugby World's Charlie Morgan labelled an England pack comprising Saracens starlet Maro Itoje "a frightening prospect" this weekend as the 21-year-old earned further support for an England Six Nations call-up.

    After coming on as a first-minute substitute for Alistair Hargreaves, the lock-cum-flanker recorded nine tackles—second only to Kelly Brown—and was a typical nuisance to the opposition in just about every respect.

Front Row

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    3. Dan Cole, Leicester Tigers

    England coach Jones will have surely taken note of Dan Cole's first professional try in 78 games, with the prop providing a decisive score to help seal Leicester's win over Bath.

    The tighthead stood up well to Bath's scrum threat, and a contribution of seven tackles and one turnover also highlighted an impressive display. 

    2. Schalk Brits, Saracens

    Saracens hooker Schalk Brits found himself among the scorers against Worcester, and the veteran once more showed his supreme athleticism for a No. 2 in the victory.

    Brits raced for 45 metres with ball in hand altogether, beating four defenders and leading Sarries to a near-perfect lineout record, missing the target with one of his throws. 

    1. Matt Mullan, Wasps

    Leading the pack from the front, loosehead Matt Mullan was a fierce presence with ball in hand against London Irish and followed team-mate Hughes with a very respectable 14 carries, not to mention a strong scrum performance.

    All statistics come courtesy of ESPN Scrum.

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