Team of the Week. Guinness Pro 14 League
The penultimate round of the League brought only one Welsh victory, that being the Cardiff Blues who triumphed out in South Africa to secure Champions Cup qualification next season, congratulations to them. Unfortunately, losses for the Scarlets who fielded a weakened side away to Edinburgh, also Ospreys losing to Ulster and the Dragons going down to a narrow loss to Zebre.
The team of the week this week is heavily weighted towards Cardiff Blues for obvious reasons, so here it is.
15. Gareth Anscombe – Cardiff Blues. Did his defensive duties when called upon and got into the attacking line well with his vision and passing ability. Will he start next week at 10 for Cardiff Blues against Pau in the semi-final of the European Challenge Cup, or will Cardiff Blues remain with the in-form Jarrod Evans? I expect it will be Evans with Anscombe again at 15, but time will tell.
14. Jeff Hassler – Ospreys. Strong showing again by the Canadian international. Made his tackles, and when had the opportunities with ball in hand, made hard yards.
13. Kieron Fonotia – Ospreys. Seventeen tackles made in a rearguard display and made eighty-eight metres in the attack. Has ended the season in really good form, which the Scarlets will be delighted about and will hope he can start next season in a similar vein with them.
12. Willis Halaholo – Cardiff Blues. The man with the dancing feet showed he can also run a hard line off a short pass and power over the line on Saturday. He and his partner in midfield, Rey Lee-Lo are in excellent form in recent weeks.
11. Jared Rosser – Dragons. In a losing effort, the young left winger scored a hat-trick of tries and was dangerous throughout.
10. Jarrod Evans – Cardiff Blues. The young 10 was excellent yet again on Saturday. He is playing with bags of confidence and controlled the game on Saturday. Always dangerous with the ball in hand but his kicking game has also improved recently. If Evans keeps these levels of performance up has to be talked about as a potential Welsh international in a position of real strength.
9. Tomos Williams – Cardiff Blues. Excellent all-around performance from the livewire scrum-half on Saturday. His battle with his namesake, Lloyd for the number 9 shirt has caused both players to up their performances in recent months, which is great for the Cardiff Blues.
1. Rhys Gill – Cardiff Blues. Strong in the set piece, and defensively gets through so much work, he is a real nuisance at the breakdown for the opposition.
2. Kirby Myhill – Cardiff Blues. With Kristian Dacey injured and Matthew Rees, Cardiff Blues needed Myhill to show if required next Saturday he is ready for the battle and on Saturday he put in arguably his best performance in a Cardiff Blues shirt. Went well in the set pieces, made his tackles, carried well and also scored two tries. A very strong performance.
3. Scott Andrews – Cardiff Blues. The player who only a few months back was in the wilderness at Cardiff Blues has now had a few games and on Saturday was very good. One of the better ball handling front rowers in Wales who often has been maligned for his set-piece work, but yesterday no such criticism.
4. Bradley Davies – Ospreys. The Welsh international second-rower played well on Friday night. Aggressive in the tight made a number of tackles and his last ditch effort to stop Jacob Stockdale scoring a try was outstanding.
5. Josh Turnbull – Cardiff Blues. Outstanding performance from the versatile back five forward. Was everywhere all evening and in my eyes, the best player on the pitch.
6. Alun Wyn Jones – Ospreys. Played blindside flanker on Friday and was outstanding. AWJ is in sparkling form and the Welsh legend shows no sign of dropping his amazingly high standards.
7. Ellis Jenkins – Cardiff Blues. Such an intelligent rugby player who often makes the right decisions. Seems to have a great manner of how he speaks to referees during a game, and seems completely at ease in a captaincy role.
8. Nick Williams – Cardiff Blues. Only played the first half on Saturday but what a first half. Was completely dominant in every contact and also showed some subtle offloads including a no-look pass from the big uncompromising 8.
So there you have Y-Ddraig’s team of the week. Agree/Disagree?
Join us in two weeks for the final team of the week and then the same week we will be counting up all the selections and give you our Welsh sides team of the season from the Guinness Pro 14 League for 2017-2018.
Best of luck to the Scarlets and Cardiff Blues next weekend with their semi-final’s in Europe. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that both can get to their respective finals. Come on boys, do us Welsh proud!