Flats picks out his XV from Round 20 of Aviva Premiership Rugby
David Flatman has named his team of the week following Round 20 of Aviva Premiership Rugby and four sides feature heavily, with 12 of the 15 players selected.
It is no surprise to see a Northampton Saints player, James Gibson, earns Flats’ player of the round accolade, after they completed a first league double over Leicester Tigers since the 2003/04 season.
The former Tigers flanker had a superb game as Saints held on to win 27-21, making 15 tackles and being particularly effective at both attacking and defensive lineouts.
Elsewhere in the forwards, there is a spot for another Saints man, prop Paul Hill, who was starting his first game since November and his first appearance since January.
It was a big call to go with Hill in such a big game, but he stepped up to the plate, making 15 tackles and 33 metres.
And the third Saints player in Flats’ XV was try-scoring scrum-half Cobus Reinach, who shone for Saints from an attacking perspective, making 69 metres with incisive runs all afternoon.
The top performer from a try-scoring point of view on the weekend was Exeter Chiefs’ Sam Simmonds, who bagged a hat-trick of tries as the defending champions ran out 45-5 winners over London Irish.
He slots in at No.8, joining Gibson and Newcastle Falcons’ Gary Graham in the back row.
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In the second row, Flats’ has opted for another Exeter try-scorer, Mitch Lees, who was colossal defensively, with his 18 tackles only bettered by teammate Simmonds with 21.
Alongside him is Gloucester’s Ed Slater, a strong performer as the Cherry & Whites beat Harlequins 37-9 for a crucial bonus-point victory.
Joining Hill in the front row is another Exeter man to get a try on the board, Ben Moon at prop, while Rob Webber completes the pack at hooker, after he helped drag Sale Sharks back into the game at Kingston Park after being 25-0 down, only to lose to a late Rob Vickers try.
Accompanying Reinach at half-back is Falcons’ Joel Hodgson, as the 25-year-old made 58 metres and kicked 10 points, including a long-range penalty on 70 minutes to keep the pressure on Sale after the Sharks had moved into a 27-25 lead.
In the midfield, Gloucester’s Billy Twelvetrees is Flats’ pick at 12 with Sharks centre Sam James outside him.
It was a superb afternoon for the Gloucester man as he set up Callum Braley for the opening score and kicked 17 points to take the game away from Harlequins.
In the back three, there is a place for Bath winger Aled Brew, who made 91 metres in a disappointing outing for his side as Allianz Park, losing 41-6 to Saracens.
Marland Yarde scored twice for Sale, once darting through a hole in the Falcons defence and then profiting from a James offload to nip in again, but ended up on the losing side.
And Gloucester’s Jason Woodward completes Flats’ XV this week – the full-back scored the Cherry & Whites second of four tries and made an astonishing 205 metres over the course of the afternoon.