Team of the week: Exeter Chiefs and Bristol Bears dominate

European Champions Cup winners Exeter and Challenge Cup winners Bristol dominate our latest team of the week.

15. Max Malins (Bristol)

Beats out All Blacks’ Beauden Barrett and Racing’s Simon Zebo for the jersey. Dealt with Toulon’s kicking game very well and solid under the high ball. We know what he can do on attack, and he didn’t disappoint with some lovely runs – including a scything attack to score the winning try.

14. Jack Nowell (Exeter)

In their first ever Champions Cup final, the Chiefs needed a player like Nowell who always steps up in the big games. Always looking for work and tracking around the field, made a crucial intercept to set up Henry Slade for his try. His big boot also played a part in Exeter’s win, as he produced some impressive touch finders for crucial territory.

13. Semi Radrada (Bristol)

What a wonderful performance from Radrada – the type of player you sit up and watch whenever he gets the ball. Some beautiful hands created Bristol’s first try after 15 seconds and he terrorised Toulon on attack. A marvellous player to watch.

12. Henry Slade (Exeter)

Another tussle between Slade and the Bears’ Siale Piutau with Slade getting the nod. Sale was lucky not to get yellowed for a high tackle on Juan Imhoff but made up for it with the try after Nowell’s interception. Made some good breaks and pounced on any errors that Racing made.

11. Caleb Clarke (New Zealand)

What an outing for Clarke who is another player who grabs your attention every time he gets the ball. His barnstorming run, scattering Wallaby defenders in his wake was a sight to behold. He beat 14 defenders in all! A mention for Alapati Leiua, who was outstanding for the Bears too.

10. Joe Simmonds (Exeter)

Simmonds is the youngest Champions Cup-winning captain in the tournament’s history and led his team like a grizzled veteran of many a campaign. A very composed performance under massive pressure from Racing 92. Was perfect with the boot, scoring 11 points – including that vital last penalty – and controlled the game excellently. Drove a few French heavyweights backwards in a determined defensive effort too. A mention for Bristol’s Callum Sheedy, who was outstanding as well.

9. Harry Randall (Bristol)

Opened the scoring after just 15 seconds after reading perfectly what Radrada and Alapati Leiua were up to. Handled things at the back of the scrum very well, especially under such a massive onslaught from the Toulon forwards. Changed the focus of play to keep Toulon guessing and his kicking game was excellent too.

1. Alec Hepburn (Exeter)

Had the better of Georges-Henri Colombe at the scrum forcing the promising young French prop into conceding several penalties. Gave the Chiefs a big platform with his scrummaging efforts, carried well and made his tackles too.

2. Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter)

A few early nerves showed with his arrows but he recovered to put in a fine display, including a try from a textbook Exeter lineout drive.

3. Harry Williams (Exeter)

An all-Exeter front row as Williams also produced the goods to help them win the title. An immense effort come scrum time backed up with nine big tackles and vital try just before half-time.

4. Dave Attwood (Bristol)

For all the flair in the backs, you need to secure some ball and Attwood was immense for the Bears at the lineout allowing them to attack with some quality ball. Got really stuck in at the rucks and mauls and carried well too. Pips Exeter’s Jonny Gray to the jersey.

5. Jonny Hill (Exeter)

A massive performance from Hill who just seemed to be everywhere in attack and defence. Topped the tackle count with 16 – including a bone crusher on Finn Russell when Racing were looking dangerous.

6. Ben Earl (Bristol)

Played No 8 against Toulon but we needed him in our team after his massive performance. Stood tall against a massive Toulon pack and did not take a step backwards. Carried well, made some vital turnovers and his defence was exceptional.

7. Dan Thomas (Bristol)

Another Bears player who impressed against Toulon. His defensive work was outstanding, especially at the breakdown where he worked hard to slow down the ball and take the speed off the oppositions attack. Was always on hand to link up with his backs and pounce on any loose balls. Ended the game with an impressive 13 tackles and edges All Blacks skipper Sam Cane for the jersey.

8. Sam Simmonds (Exeter)

Rightly won European Player of the Year award and underlined that with a devastating performance. Put in some massive carries and also got stuck in at the breakdown to halt Racing’s momentum. Scored a close-range try in the first half and also added 10 tackles to his tally.

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