Flats selects his XV from Round 20
The business end of the season is well and truly here, with the race for the top four and top six heating up and two teams battling it out to avoid finishing bottom of the pile.
Another enthralling weekend of action helped shape the Gallagher Premiership Rugby table heading into the final two rounds of the regular season and David Flatman has again been pondering over his best XV from round 20.
Four Bristol Bears make the cut after an incredible 23-20 victory over Leicester Tigers at Welford Road, headlined by ex-Tiger Harry Thacker at hooker, who was mauled over the line for the decisive try seven minutes from time.
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Callum Sheedy brilliantly pulled the strings at fly-half and produced a fine solo score – meaning he will be Flats’ No.10 – while full-back Mat Protheroe and No.8 Steven Luatua complete the quartet of Bears.
Northampton Saints currently occupy the coveted fourth spot in Gallagher Premiership Rugby after their 31-17 win at Kingston Park left Newcastle Falcons with a mountain to climb to avoid finishing bottom of the table.
Tom Collins gave Falcons the runaround with a sublime hat-trick, earning him a place on the wing in Flats’ XV, with fellow Saint Taqele Naiyaravoro on the other wing and Courtney Lawes in the second row.
The other Friday night clash was to put it kindly, one for the purists, as Sale Sharks ground out a 6-3 triumph over Bath Rugby, although Sale flanker Tom Curry impressed Flats enough to be included.
Worcester Warriors securing their Gallagher Premiership Rugby status for another season sees prop Nick Schonert and scrum-half Francois Hougaard get the nod, while centre Ollie Devoto and flanker Dave Ewers are the two Exeter Chiefs following their tight 17-15 victory over Harlequins.
Quins also have a representative from that match as ex-England front-rower Joe Marler provides some bulk and Saracens securing a home semi-final with a 31-14 triumph at Wasps is enough for lock Will Skelton and centre Nick Tompkins to round out Flats’ XV.
Flats’ XV from Round 20 of Gallagher Premiership Rugby:
15. Mat Protheroe (Bristol Bears)
14. Tom Collins (Northampton Saints)
13. Nick Tompkins (Saracens)
12. Ollie Devoto (Exeter Chiefs)
11. Taqele Naiyaravoro (Northampton Saints)
10. Callum Sheedy (Bristol Bears)
9. Francois Hougaard (Worcester Warriors)
1. Joe Marler (Harlequins)
2. Harry Thacker (Bristol Bears)
3. Nick Schonert (Worcester Warriors)
4. Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints)
5. Will Skelton (Saracens)
6. Dave Ewers (Exeter Chiefs)
7. Tom Curry (Sale Sharks)
8. Steven Luatua (Bristol Bears)