Team of the Week. Guinness Pro 14. Week 10
Another round of matches and the Welsh sides came away with no victories disappointingly. However, were some positives, Dragons held Ulster to a draw in an exciting match at Rodney Parade. Scarlets suffered a narrow loss in South Africa against the Cheetahs, in an exciting game, where Cheetahs looked very dangerous especially with their back three. In the other two matches involving Welsh sides, Cardiff Blues lost out in Glasgow, where 14 men battled against the numerical disadvantage, but fell away in the last 15 minutes and Ospreys woes continued, suffering a convincing defeat away to Munster.
Looking at the performances in those matches, here is this week’s team of the week.
15/ Johnny McNicholl – Serially selected in the team of the week side. We know how talented a footballer he is but yesterday made a try-saving tackle, where he covered across and right on the corner flag bundled the Cheetahs scrum-half into touch, was a fantastic tackle. Made 77 metres in attack as well, always looking dangerous. Special mention also for Dragons fullback Angus O’Brien, scoring a try and being very creative for the Dragons in the backline.
14/ Ashton Hewitt – Dragons. Two tries for the talented wide man. Looks a changed player this season, and a change for the better.
13/ Adam Warren – Dragons. Has come into the side with the injury to Tyler Morgan, and in the last two weeks has put in some very strong performances. 18 tackles made against Ulster. A mention also for Kieron Fonotia of the Ospreys, who made a great break for one of the tries on Saturday night.
12/ Jack Dixon – Dragons. As always, set targets for his forwards with his strong ball carrying, but on Friday put through a lovely little grubber kick for one of the tries. If he can keep showing other facets of his game, then he could easily come into the centre selection discussions for Wales.
11/ Blaine Scully – Cardiff Blues. As always plenty of effort from the American winger on Friday night. Made 80 metres with the ball in hand with 4 carries. A mention also for Ioan Nicholas for Scarlets, who scored an excellent individual try and was always looking for work.
10/ Gavin Henson – Dragons. A class performance from Gav on Friday night. Got his backline moving with lively touches and made a great break for one of the tries. One of the most talented midfield players Wales have had for many years in his day, and on this performance, still not many better even now.
9/ Dan Babos – Dragons. What a performance from a 17-year-old on his debut this was. Got his backline moving very well, and was always talking, encouraging his forwards when the time was right for them to drive the ball on. Need to manage expectations, as only one game, but this boy is certainly one to keep an eye on. A mention also for Tom Habberfield for Ospreys, who put in a very solid performance.
1/ Brad Thyer – Cardiff Blues. After the sending off of Tao’ao Filise, Cardiff Blues needed to put in a big defensive shift and Thyer, certainly did that. Made 11 tackles, and was a nuisance at the breakdown.
2/ Liam Belcher – Dragons. Strong performance from the young hooker on Friday night. Scored a try and played his part in a big performance from the Welsh side. A mention also for Ryan Elias of the Scarlets, who also put in a good performance.
3/ Lloyd Fairbrother – Dragons. A big shift from the tighthead prop. Did his part in the set piece and also made 18 tackles on defence.
4/ Joe Davies – Dragons – 18 tackles made by the second rower, and he was all around the pitch making tackles, hitting rucks and was available to carry forward when required. Big performance.
5/ Macauley Cook – Cardiff Blues. The versatile forward yet again put in an excellent shift for Cardiff Blues. 22 tackles made and also scored a try. A mention also for David Bulbring of the Scarlets, who is in really good form at the moment.
6/ Josh Turnbull – Cardiff Blues. Been a stop-start season so far for the player, but on Friday night, back in his best position in my view at 6, he put in a strong performance. 21 tackles made, and was a real nuisance around the field, and won plenty of ball at the line out.
7/ Ollie Griffiths – Dragons. What a performance from the back rower on Friday night. He is such a talent, and such a shame he was not fit to play in the Autumn Series for Wales, as I believe he is that good, he is a serious challenger to get in the Welsh back row even with the abundance of riches Wales have in that position when all are fit and available. His statistics on Friday were outstanding, including 75 metres made in attack and 27 tackles made. A mention also for James Davies of Scarlets great to see him back and scoring a try, plus Ollie Robinson, who yet again was excellent this weekend, but only one player can be selected and that has to be Ollie Griffiths.
8/ James Benjamin – Dragons. An energetic performance from the back rower on Friday night, and yet another talented Welsh back rower on the Welsh sides books. Next season a back row of Benjamin, Ross Moriarty and Griffiths is one that Dragons fans must be very excited to see.
There will be no Guinness Pro League team of the week next weekend or for next few weeks as no league matches as the European games come back into play but will be back during the Christmas period for the next round of league matches.