URC team of the week: Munster and Ulster lead the way

URC team of the week: Munster and Ulster lead the way

All four Irish provinces are represented in the BKT United Rugby Championship team of the week after some big performances in round five.

Munster claimed a morale-boosting victory over the Vodacom Bulls at Thomond Park while Ulster edged an end-to-end thriller against the Emirates Lions in South Africa.

League leaders Leinster were victorious in the latest interprovincial derby, edging past Connacht in tough conditions in Galway.

15. Mike Lowry (Ulster)

Lowry’s boot helped create two tries as Ulster opened their South African tour with a breathless victory over the Lions.

The full-back was a constant threat on kick returns and exploited a gap in the midfield in the lead-up to Rob Lyttle’s try on 42 minutes, while a stunning kick bounced off the corner flag for a 50-22, from which Stuart McCloskey scored.

We’ll forgive him for a couple of defensive lapses on an afternoon where Ulster got over the line in roasting conditions.

14. John Porch (Connacht)

Wings are normally included for their performances in attack but Porch’s outstanding defensive display earns him a place in our XV.

The Australian made two try-saving tackles during the closing stages of Connacht’s derby loss to Leinster, denying Rob Russell in the corner before sprinting back to halt a charging Josh van der Flier.

Porch kicked intelligently in testing conditions in Galway and often came off his wing looking for work.

13. Garry Ringrose (Leinster)

Restored to the Leinster midfield after his stunning stint on the wing in round four, Ringrose showed plenty of lovely touches in spite of the wet and windy conditions in Galway.

The Ireland centre beat four defenders, the most of any Leinster player, which included a lovely break outside of Jack Carty midway through the first half.

12. Stuart McCloskey (Ulster)

Any queries over why McCloskey was standing in a five-metre lineout were quickly answered when he pounced on a loose ball to bag Ulster’s bonus-point try against the Lions – his second in as many matches.

The powerful centre even turned scrum-half at one stage to feed a scrum, while also producing his usual big carries, tackles and offloads.

11. Duhan van der Merwe (Edinburgh)

The Scotland international scored two tries and beat nine defenders on his Edinburgh return as they ran riot against Benetton.

Van der Merwe crossed twice in the second half, shrugging off attempted tacklers for his first and running a good support line for his second after an Adam McBurney break.

10. Joey Carbery (Munster)

The Ireland international produced a man-of-the-match performance as Munster powered to a bonus-point win over the Bulls.

Carbery had a hand in three of Munster’s four tries and played the conditions perfectly, kicking 11 points as well as a brilliant 50-22 in the lead-up to Gavin Coombes’ second try.

9. Jaden Hendrikse (Cell C Sharks)

Sanele Nohamba again impressed for the Lions but Hendrikse gets the scrum-half berth after his controlled showing against Glasgow.

Hendrikse ensured the Sharks were playing in the right areas with some pinpoint box-kicking while a smart grubber caught the Warriors defence napping and created the bonus-point try for Aphelele Fassi.

1. Jeremy Loughman (Munster)

The Munster pack were outstanding against the Bulls and Loughman was rewarded for his efforts with a try shortly after half-time.

Having gone close in the first half, the loosehead showcased his football skills as he pounced on a Chris Smith error to touch down.

2. Rob Herring (Ulster)

Ulster had issues at scrum time in Johannesburg but Herring ensured there would be no such problems at the lineout.

The Ireland hooker’s darts were on the money, one of which led to him scoring his side’s fifth try from a driving maul on 52 minutes.

3. Ruan Dreyer (Emirates Lions)

While Ulster were gasping for air in the Johannesburg heat, Dreyer was making it look easy. He spearheaded a powerful Lions scrum, winning two penalties.

However, it was his work in the loose which really caught the eye, which included a dummy and one-handed offload to put Francke Horn sprinting downfield for a brilliant long-range score.

4. Eben Etzebeth (Cell C Sharks)

Etzebeth looks to have quickly settled into his new surroundings after dominating Glasgow on his Sharks debut in Durban.

The imposing lock set the tone with a big carry inside four minutes, bringing three Glasgow defenders with him as he made 10 metres. He also dismantled the visitors’ lineout, won breakdown turnovers, chased kicks and unleashed some trademark bone-crunching tackles.

5. Edwin Edogbo (Munster)

The 19-year-old shone on his full Munster debut with an array of big tackles and strong breakdown work.

Edobgo impressed from the off, winning a turnover penalty after only three minutes. The Bulls were unable to shift him off breakdown ball while the talented lock also hunted down the opposition ball-carrier on numerous occasions.

6. Tadhg Beirne (Munster)

Beirne barged over for Munster’s bonus-point try to cap off another fine display by the Ireland forward, who continues to lead by example.

Switched the back row for the visit of the Bulls, Beirne and fellow flanker Peter O’Mahony terrorised the Bulls at lineout time, while he also came up with some big moments in defence and at the breakdown.

7. Thomas Young (Cardiff)

Young sprinted 50 metres to score Cardiff’s bonus-point try against the Dragons, capping off an excellent outing from the openside flanker.

The 30-year-old made a lung-busting 22 tackles to help Cardiff extend their eight-year unbeaten run against their neighbours and edges out Josh van der Flier, who was excellent in Galway.

8. Francke Horn (Emirates Lions)

Duane Vermeulen was superb for Ulster at Emirates Airline Park but he is beaten to the No 8 shirt by Horn, who delivered yet another all-encompassing performance.

The 23-year-old beat the Ulster players for speed as he sprinted downfield for a 70-metre try, and he powered over in the corner with four minutes remaining to set up a tense finish.

Special mention also to Gavin Coombes, who scored two tries in Munster’s win over the Bulls.

Watch Leinster v Munster in the United Rugby Championship on Saturday from 4.30pm on RTÉ2 and RTÉ Player, listen to live commentary on RTÉ Radio 1’s Saturday Sport and follow a live blog on RTÉ.ie/sport and RTÉ News app

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