What a second week of the Rugby Europe Championship 2022 it was, with Romania showing their impressive forward pack, while Spain kept working until they got a last-play win, and Georgia cruising past Netherlands to bring them closer to their Rugby World Cup qualifying.
Writer Francisco Isaac selects his top performers from the weekend.
Is it possible for a player to snatch a spot in a Team of the Round if they only played 35 minutes? Well, if you are Alexandru Savin, it is possible, yes. The prop came from the bench and just mauled his opposition in the scrum and was one of the "keys" for the Romanian maul to start functioning, scoring one of "Oaks" tries for the comeback. His teammate Ovidiu Cojocaru was, in my opinion, the best hooker of the round, along with Luka Japaridze, the Georgian tighthead, was just incredible scoring one of the best tries for his side.
José Madeira earns his place, yet again, as he was a tackling machine for Portugal, bringing 15 foes down and jackaling twice against Romania. Spanish lock Manuel Mora was the best player in the round, as he was a pile-driving machine for Los Leones in every action he was involved in, proving a handful for his Russian opposition.
Otar Giorgadze take a bow, as the flanker scored a hat-trick for Los Lelos, whilst he also was one of the best at the breakdown, forcing the Netherlands team to commit several mistakes in the ruck/contact. For the openside flanker role, we opted for Nikita Vavilin, and deservedly so as the Russian stopped two incoming Spanish tries, throwing his body and soul on the line to give his side a fighting chance in this game, completing also 12 tackles and 1 turnover.
And Mihai Macovei, who else? The number-eight kept his team tight and pushed his body beyond the limits, carrying the ball 14 times, tackling 13 players, and snatching the oval ball from Portuguese hands five times.
Scrum and Fly-half
Vasil Lobzhanidze is proving that he is a special kind of player. The scrum-half was all over the park, scoring two tries and building two more, in a masterclass on how to quickly draw the ball from the ruck. Manuel Ordás was just class not only in the tee - scoring 16 points - but also in steering his team at every attacking manoeuvre, proving pivotal to his team’s win in Sochi.
Jason Tomane was just tireless from start to finish, grinding Portugal players to the limit every time he went to the gain line, he opened enough gaps to build some of Romania's best plays in the match. On the other side to the Oaks inside-centre was the other standout centre of the week, José Lima, one of the most experienced "Os Lobos" players was just something else, scoring one try, breaking ranks twice, and even forced one penalty against Romania in the breakdown.
Finally, Te Campbell, the best Dutch representative of the round, and one of the most dynamic units in all weekend, running 76 meters, breaking the defensive line three times.
Marco Pinto (Spain), Adrian Motoc (Romania), Thibault Freitas (Portugal), Ramil Gaisin (Russia), Alvar Gimeno (Spain)