Aviva Premiership Team of the Week: Round 1

15: Niall Morris (Leicester Tigers)
The Irishman has found a real home in the East Midlands, not unlike mentor Geordan Murphy before him. Shifted to fullback this week Morris was as solid as a rock at the back, while also nudging through a gorgeous grubber kick for the Tigers’ opening try.

14: Marland Yarde (London Irish)
It is set to be a huge season for the Exiles’ winger. He managed a whopping 102 metres (including four defenders beaten and two offloads) in only nine carries on Saturday, so imagine what he could do with more ball… Also had a 100% tackle success rate. Starting to look like a complete package.

13: George Lowe (Harlequins)
Embarrassed by Christian Wade in this fixture last season, Lowe got his own back over Wasps with a man of the match performance that included an astonishing try-saving tackle on their other paceman, Tom Varndell. Lowe made 12 tackles in total, but none was more vital than that one.

12: Luther Burrell (Northampton Saints)
The Saints smashed the Chiefs on Saturday, scoring some scintillating tries in the process. Big Luther Burrell was hugely impressive, and although his partnership with George Pisi looks a little one dimensional on paper, he showed a fantastic eye for a gap to glide through Exeter’s line before sending Ken Pisi over in the corner. Stuart Lancaster will be watching on with interest.

11: Mark Cueto (Sale Sharks)
There’s life in the old dog yet. On a weekend when Sale stunned the Premiership with a win at Kingsholm, Cueto bagged a well-finished try and also sent through a delightful grubber kick to grab an assist for Andy Forsyth’s five-pointer. Mention to new boy North who impressed for Saints.

10: George Ford (Bath)
This was a thoroughly mature performance from young Ford. In horrific conditions in the North East, Ford steered the Bath ship to an impressive victory. There were none of the place-kicking demons that so haunted his game last year, while he also managed to rack up 76 metres after a couple of smart breaks. Mention to Farrell who dictated play superbly for Sarries.

9: David Melé (Leicester Tigers)
The Tigers may well have uncovered another gem in the diminutive Frenchman, who looks a superb alternative to Youngs. There may not be the scything breaks the Englishman is renowned for, but the snappiness of his service was hugely impressive. Also took his try very well.

1: Paul James/Anthony Perinise (Bath)
Where was this tight five last season? Bath’s big boys steamrolled Newcastle and James was at the forefront of this impressive effort. Kieran Brookes, who looked so good in the loose, was bullied in the scrum by James, who is obviously enjoying the new laws. Nothing flash, just good, old-fashioned propping, and it was continued by Perinise when he arrived on 50 mins.

2: Jamie George (Saracens)
Two tries for a hooker? ‘Nuff said. Looked dynamic around the vast Twickenham pitch and offered himself to carry on eight occasions, not to mention making a faintly ridiculous 19 tackles. Sarries have a more than viable alternative to Brits this season. Youngs, Hartley and Webber also all went well, making it a prolific weekend for English hookers (… calm down).

3: Henry Thomas (Sale Sharks)
Sale’s young English tight-head put in a solid shift in their win over Gloucester, forming part of a pack that bullied a weak Gloucester unit. He also managed ten tackles as he put himself about the Kingsholm turf.

4: Christian Day (Northampton Saints)
Northampton’s lineout maestro was at his best against the Chiefs, ensuring the Saints won 100% of their own ball while disrupting five of their opposition’s efforts. There was also time for him to get through eight tackles and carries – no mean feat.

5: Alastair Hargreaves (Saracens)
Sarries’ win was, unsurprisingly, based on their immensely powerful game, and no one typifies this better than the giant South African Hargreaves. There were a couple of shuddering hits in defence, as well as the usual grunt work in the tight.

6: Billy Vunipola (Saracens)
Big Billy was hugely impressive on his Saracens debut, racking up 13 carries for 40 metres, alongside nine tackles. He has certainly dropped a bit of weight and worked on his mobility over the summer – exactly what turned his brother into such a good player. It will be fascinating to see how he is deployed as the season unfolds. Mention to Sam Jones of Wasps, whose line and offload for Launchbury’s try was a thing of beauty.

7: Dan Braid (Sale Sharks)
Shifted to the other flank to accommodate Billy, Sale’s victorious captain simply demanded inclusion. As Gloucester threw the kitchen sink at the Sharks it was Braid, ably aided by back-row mate Seymour, who led the charge in defence, making an impressive 17 tackles.

8: Jordan Crane (Leicester Tigers)
Crane is often criticised for looking a little one-paced, but there was a refreshing dynamism about his game this weekend. Popped up at the back of an old-school Tigers driving maul to rumble over for a five-pointer, and also produced a sumptuous offload for Melé’s score.

By Jamie Hosie
Follow Jamie on Twitter: @jhosie43

Photo by: Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images

11 thoughts on “Aviva Premiership Team of the Week: Round 1

  1. There were doubts about Ford’s goal-kicking, but that 43m penalty into a gale certainly allayed such fears. Thankfully!

    1. It’s early days yet – some of his efforts last year were frankly embarrassing! Hope he’s sorted it though as he’s got the potential to be a special player.

      1. Of course. I know Eastmond has been working with a kicking coach, and of course we also have Henson, so if Ford keeps play-making the way he does, if his goal-kicking slides it wouldn’t be a problem to have someone else taking the place-kicks.

  2. Surprised to not see Care at 9, Thought he was very impressive on Sat, but I didn’t see the Tiggers game so I’ll take your judgement till I do ;)

    1. It was a bit of a toss-up between the two do be honest – given it was Melé’s first game in the Prem he got the nod! Also forgot to mention Josh Matavesi, who was excellent for Worcester at 12.

      1. I also thought that Care was doing a lot of his usual make a break, run away from support, lose ball routine. A few times he got isolated and lost the ball (turned over twice and penalised once), though he did otherwise play well. Melé was just sublime, snappy service and just clever plays. Looked superb and I’m less concerned about Youngs going away for England.

        1. I think that part of that was the Quins’ forwards lack of awareness of Care’s break, I don’t think that was Care’s problem as such but more the way in which the support took so long to get to him. I think that was the support’s fault mainly, rather than Care.

  3. Can I make a special mention of Jacques Burger’s return on Saturday who, along with Hargreaves put in some trademark hard hits for Sarries. Great to have him back. Just puts a little bit of fear in a few 10’s around the premiership.

  4. Being a tigers fan it was nice to see Crane looking a bit quicker round the park. Always breaks the gain line

  5. I think Sam Dickinson at Saints had to come pretty close for the no.8 spot here – played an absolute blinder and in one game justified Saints’ decision to sign him two seasons ago. Was absolutely everywhere carrying and smashing rucks. If he continues on this path he’ll be the next Tim Rodber at Northampton.

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