There were tries and upsets aplenty in the opening weekend of the Aviva Premiership, and here is my team of the week.
1 – Ellis Genge (Leicester)
Despite a disappointing loss for Tigers, Genge was still on the front foot being a menace with carrying the ball and was also mostly scrum dominant (until he was penalised twice). Despite the signings of Number 8s Sione Kalamafoni and Valentino Mapapalangi, I think Genge will still be the go to ball-carrier for Leicester.
2 – Schalk Brits (Saracens)
A man-of-the-match display for the Sarries’ stalwart who still delights with his energetic footwork and slick offloads, including one which set up Sean Maitland’s try.
3 – Vincent Koch (Saracens)
The South African was at his usual best in the set piece but his first half try plus good carrying stats and a pass that led to the impressive Sean Maitland try meant that Koch is on this list.
4 – Luke Charteris (Bath)
The Welsh international lock disrupted Leicester’s lineout on many occasions with his tall frame, and just about clipped the ball out of Mike Williams’ hands to prevent a late try for Tigers to win the match. He was consistent throughout with 14 tackles in his name.
5 – Jeremy Thrush (Gloucester)
Thrush, a big signing for the Cherry and Whites in 2015, has blown hot and cold since then but was very good on Sunday night and, whether you agree with his second try or not, his impact and consistency cannot be doubted.
6 – Chris Robshaw (Harlequins)
It was a quiet week for the blindsides but Robshaw, despite his side losing in Round One, still was at his constant reliable workhorse rate and tried to keep Quins alive.
7 – Blair Cowan (London Irish)
The Scottish back-rower was big in defence and disrupted the Quins attack, forcing them into errors all afternoon at Twickenham.
8 – Sam Simmonds (Exeter)
One of the Chiefs’ big finds in the AW Cup last year, was an absolute menace for Gloucester to handle on Friday, scoring 2 tries and constantly causing Gloucester problems with his low centre of gravity and speed. He certainly can fill Thomas Waldrom’s shoes once the big man retires.
9 – Dan Robson (Wasps)
Robson scored 4 tries in the game against Sale, and is the first scrumhalf since 2000 to do so. An honorary mention to Faf de Klerk who was impressive for Sale.
10 – Alex Lozowski (Saracens)
The Sarries flyhalf was instrumental in the first half drubbing of Northampton, picking up an easy score and knocking over 4 conversions as well.
11 – Jonny May (Leicester)
Two strong finishes from May salvaged a point for Leicester and I think the England winger could be a match-winner in many this season when he isn’t on international duty.
12 – Max Clarke (Bath)
Bath’s young centre stole the show from Leicester’s much-hyped Matt Toomua with two tries – one from counterattack and another from constant pressure on the Tigers’ line and was awarded man of the match.
13 – Manu Tuilagi (Leicester)
Another positive from Tigers’ defeat was the return of favourite Tuilagi who lasted a full 80 minutes, scored a great try in the opening quarter and made one or two big hits. However a mediocre pack performance affected the quality ball Tuilagi was getting so that he couldn’t be as effective.
14 – Topsy Ojo (London Irish)
The former England winger produced a wonderful counterattack try and showed that despite his age of 32, he still has what it takes to be a first class finisher.
15 – Tommy Bell (London Irish)
The former Tigers back kicked 19 points and scored one try to cap off an impressive return to the Premiership, and was instrumental in the Exiles’ win over Harlequins.
What do you make of this team? Are there any positions you would change?
By Jacob Bassford