With many first-team players away on international duty, an opportunity for many to step up and stake a claim. Good wins for Cardiff Blues and Scarlets. Dragons were defeated by Leinster which was expected with a weakened side and being in Dublin. Ospreys though went down to a heavy home defeat to Glasgow, troubled times indeed for the Ospreys.
Based on individual performances here are the selections with some of the rationale as to why and some mentions for those players who were very much in the selectional frame.
Team of the week.
15. Johnny McNicholl – Scarlets. As usual some elusive running with the ball in hand from the exciting back three player. A mention also for Matthew Morgan who is in fine form for the Cardiff Blues. Defensively his core skills have improved significantly in last few games.
14. Owen Lane – Cardiff Blues. Made his debut for the Cardiff Blues on Friday night and was excellent. Carried strongly and always looked for work also scoring a try. Missed a tackle late in the game which he will be disappointed about, but a performance full of promise.
13. Adam Warren – Dragons. In a defeat, Warren put in a strong performance, making 14 tackles and 77 metres in the attack. Mention also for Garyn Smith who yet again did the fundamentals well for Cardiff Blues at outside centre. Cardiff Blues look a better side with him in the centre, which is a challenge for Danny Wilson with Rey Leelo and Willis Halaholo on his playing staff. Will be interesting to see how that plays out.
12. Paul Asquith – Scarlets. Man of the match performance from the utility back. Looks another astute signing by the Scarlets.
11. Jeff Hassler – Ospreys. Typical hard-working performance from the left winger. Never stops trying. Gained 71 metres in attack with ball in hand.
10. Gareth Anscombe – Cardiff Blues. Only played 30 minutes, but made such a difference to Cardiff Blues, with his vision, taking on the defensive line and also his kicking was outstanding. Mention also for Daniel Jones, who again, was excellent in a tough game out in South Africa.
9. Tomos Williams – Cardiff Blues. Very sharp and incisive performance from the young number 9 on Friday night, looked dangerous the whole game. Mention also for Jonathan Evans who went well for the Scarlets, and of course, have to mention a return to the fold for a certain Mr Mike Phillips. Not a bad performance at all for his first outing for quite a while. Welcome back.
1. Paul James – Ospreys. In a poor team performance, James stood his ground and kept on going whilst others wilted. A fine prop for a long time now.
2. Matthew Rees – Cardiff Blues. “Smiler” is in fine form. Strong as always at the set piece and is carrying really well. He and Kristian Dacey have a good battle ongoing for the starting hooker position.
3. Werner Kruger – Scarlets. Very strong backup to Samson Lee. Another fine performance.
4. Lewis Rawlins – Scarlets. A player who goes under the radar, but has the ability to be in the Welsh selector’s minds sooner rather than later if he is not already.
5. David Bulbring – Scarlets. Good at the set piece and carried well. Fine performance.
6. Tadhg Beirne – Scarlets. Outstanding player whatever position asked to play. Watch him go for Ireland next season, too talented not to.
7. Ollie Robinson – Cardiff Blues. Good all round back rower, who does not seem to have any real weaknesses in his game. Makes his tackles, carries well, good support player and strong at rucks. Only on loan from Bristol to Cardiff Blues currently, but has made a really strong showing and fans have warmed to his performances. A mention for yet another strong showing from Will Boyde for the Scarlets. James Davies is close to fitness, with John Barclay moving back to Scotland next season will Boyde get a few outings at 8? Time will tell.
8. James King – Ospreys. As per Paul James, kept on trying for the Ospreys and never shied away from the battle in a losing side.