Nick Verdier’s Team of the Week – The Rugby Paper

1. Nick Auterac (Bath) – Paul James and the starting front row did a fine job in Bath’s impressive win in Toulouse but Auterac’s introduction from the bench, along with Ross Batty and Henry Thomas, turned the scrum into a demonstration of force.
2. Matt Price (Coventry) – Cov are still in with a shout to win promotion to Championship and it’s thanks to Price’s brace at Wharfedale – especially after Ealing lost at Cinderford.
3. George Cooper (Taunton) – How do you stop Worthing’s attacking threats? You make sure your pack dominates and that’s exactly what Cooper and the Titans pack did. A fine effort!
4. Jacob Brady (Harrogate) – What a way to celebrate your 150th appearance for your club! Captain Brady was industrious in the tight and his man-of-the-match performance was rewarded by the match-winning try at Otley.
5. Matt Payne (Henley) – The big lock was introduced at half-time and it changed the Hawks’ fortune as they trailed 18-10. He played a key role in all three second-half tries and the leaders salvaged a 29-28 success against Launceston to remain top.
6. Sam Betty (Worcester) – The only hat-trick of the week from the Warriors flanker. They scored five more in their 50-12 drumming of Moseley and remain well clear for a top-two finish.
7. James Haskell (Wasps) – What a performance from Wasps at Harlequins and what a performance from Haskell. Wasps were under the pump all game but their captain was on a mission. 25 tackles and countless turnovers meant his side are in a winner-takes-all game against Leinster today.
8. Nick Sharpe (Huddersfield) – Huddersfield are looking sharp in 2015! Three games, three wins and they are now 11 points clear of the relegation zone. Captain Sharpe controlled proceedings from the back of the scrum while crossing for his tenth try of the season.
9. Frank Jones (Chinnor) – They needed a last-gasp try from Joe Pickett to win but Chinnor eventually conquered Lydney with Jones pulling the strings brilliantly all game.
10. Charlie Foley (Clifton) – Two tries, four conversions and three penalties for a total of 27 points make Foley the Golden Boot of the Week.
11. Aquile Smith (Birmingham & Solihull) – With his pack dominating up front, Smith helped himself to two tries at Sedgley Park for a much needed win for the Bees who are four points clear of the red zone.
12. Aidan Holland (Hull) – It was a must win game for Hull at Luctonians in the relegation battle and, although they still sit one from bottom, they have closed the gap to only one point with their opponents and that was thanks to Holland who came off the bench to score a brace and seal the try-bonus point too.
13. Sam Hanks (Cinderford) – With a try in each half, Hanks helped Cinderford claim their biggest win of the season as they stunned leaders Ealing and get out of the relegation zone at the same time.
14. Ricky Mackintosh (Canterbury) – The Kent side were not expecting to battle for relegation at the start of the season but they are and that win at third-placed Bishop’s Stortford, which saw Mackintosh cross twice, must have given them a sense of ‘what if?’.
15. Matt Protheroe (Hartpury College) – The schoolboy from Hartpury is on fire! He did not score but he ripped the Esher defence to shreds and ended the game with three try-assists.