Most internationals had their feet up this weekend, ahead of the Six Nations. That provided some outside shouts for the Lions team of the week, after the Anglo-Welsh Cup and Top 14 action.
Grenoble’s center Chris Farrell in action against Stade Francais. Romain Lafabregue/AFP/Getty Images)
15 Dafydd Howells (Ospreys)
Howells made his Welsh debut in the 2013 tour of Japan when 15 Welsh players had been called up for the Lions tour. On Saturday he carved through the Bristol defence inside 53 seconds to set Ospreys up for the victory. The 21 year-old is one for the future.
14 Charlie Walker (Harlequins)
Harlequins looked as though they were destined to be on the wrong end of a rout as Worcester ran into a 14-0 lead. Then up stepped Charlie Walker to put them back in the game, receiving the ball 35 metres from the try-line, slicing through the Warriors defence to score.
13 Chris Farrell (Grenoble)
The former Irish U20s centre is Munster-bound at the end of the season but put in a monumental effort in Grenoble’s victory over Stade Francais to keep their hopes of Top 14 survival alive. He capped off the performance with a try as he made three clean breaks and beat five Stade defenders in the game.
12 James Hook (Gloucester)
Hook replaced Leigh Halfpenny in the 2009 Lions squad but it was a case of out of sight, out of mind with him when he moved to Perpignan. He still shows his class and was on hand to land a conversion two minutes from time to snatch a draw as two former Wales out-halves battled it out (Rhys Priestland being the other on show).
11 Aled Brew (Bath)
Brew looked to have sealed victory for Bath with a try six minutes from time, only to be denied by James Hook’s conversion at the death. He looked lively in attack and should have been utilised more.
10 Owen Williams (Leicester Tigers)
Williams put in a commanding performance in Leicester Tigers’ Anglo-Welsh Cup victory over Northampton Saints. He was composed from the kicking tee, his kicking for field position was excellent and he also put the back-line firing. Should Biggar get injured, Wales could do worse than turning to Williams.
9 James Hart (Racing 92)
Munster-bound Hart came off the bench and kicked Racing into what appeared to be a commanding lead against Lyon before two yellow cards in the second-half cost them. It has been a long road for Hart who was told by Leinster there would be no place for him on the same day he received his school results. Grenoble and then Racing saw him impress enough for Munster to come knocking.
Newcastle Falcons’ Rob Vickers during their clash with the Dragons. Stu Forster/Getty Images
1 Rob VIckers (Newcastle Falcons)
The conditions were absolutely abysmal as Newcastle won their first Anglo-Welsh Cup clash. At times it was difficult to differentiate between players, but having been put through the testing conditions, especially under foot at scrum-time, Vickers gets the nod.
2 Harry Thacker (Leicester Tigers)
In the absence of Tom Youngs, Thacker performed brilliantly and the 22 year-old put in a performance that will surely question why he hasn’t received more game time this season. Tigers fortunate he didn’t listen when they told him he was too small at 16.
3 Tomas Francis (Exeter Chiefs)
Francis has played a key role in the Welsh team since making his debut back in 2015, and after coming off the bench against Australia last November, started the Tests against Argentina and South Africa. Played well as Exeter destroyed Wasps.
4 Mitch Lees (Exeter Chiefs)
We may be stretching it a bit, but technically, the Australian does qualify as he has been playing in England since 2011. An injury-ravaged England, could see him called up and then he will be in the Lions frame. He put in a brilliant performance on Saturday, scoring two tries from close range.
5 Charlie Matthews (Harlequins)
An intercept try from Matthews, ran in from just inside his own half, put Quins within touching distance of Worcester leading to victory which sealed a semi-final place in the Anglo-Welsh Cup for them.
6 Tom Croft (Leicester Tigers)
Despite Leicester being without a number of their internationals, Croft put in a huge effort in their convincing victory over Saints. Having been sidelined since the November win over Harlequins, he looked back to his best and was commanding in the lineout.
7 Steffon Armitage (Pau)
Armitage is still packing a punch in the Top 14 after leaving Toulon last summer. He was key in Pau’s victory over Toulouse on Saturday, putting in 15 tackles. Coming up against former French captain Thierry Dusautoir was no small task to keep Pau in with a chance of a play-off place.
8 Carl Fearns (Lyon)
The former Sale and Bath player scored a brace for Lyon as they edged closer to closer to safety, and to within a point of Stade Francais in 11th and a further two off Racing. He has been a consistent performer for struggling Lyon but will join Gloucester in the summer.
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