15. Tom Homer – London Irish
20 points from Homer’s boot (although not as prolific this year as last) guided the Exiles to a vital home win over their London rivals. An assured performance all round, the metronomic Homer was the pick of a several excellent full back displays this weekend. Geordan Murphy and Rob Cooke were others who impressed.
14. David Strettle– Saracens
Despite his late sin-bin, Strettle showed why he was considered such a prospect a few seasons ago. A brace of tries, displaying some characteristically quick feet got Saracens back in the game. Still a quality finisher.
13. Joel Tomkins – Saracens
Tomkins gave a performance that justified his status as an EPS add on. His power and deft touch on the gainline were to the fore once again, but it was his decision making and vision that were most evident this weekend. Two excellent passes that set up tries and sparked Saracens’ revival showed the league-converts quality.
12. Shane Geraghty – London Irish
A good performance from Geraghty, as he really threw himself around and always looked threatening. Took the pressure of creativity off Iain Humphreys inside him, showing excellent awareness for Irish’s first try. Irish look a better side with him in it.
11. Marland Yarde – London Irish
A tantalising sub-plot to an already intriguing game, Yarde just got the better of his exceptional opposite Christian Wade at the Madejski. Yarde’s pace caused plenty of problems for Wasps and only an exceptional cover tackle from Wade denied him a second try. Jonny May also continued his good form against Worcester.
10. Charlie Hodgson – Saracens
Whilst George Ford showcased all that was good and bad about his game at present (wonderful attacking play, wayward goal kicking) it was the former England man who played with more control. After a difficult first period Hodgson, with half back partner De Cock, quietly engineered a sensational Saracens comeback. His zippy delivery and the variety of options he chose, as well as efficiency in the red zone were crucial to Saracens.
9. Neil De Kock – Saracens
His introduction at the 50 minute mark, a move beloved of the Saracens back room staff, proved one of the turning points in the game. Despite getting flattened by Mulipola, he added speed at the base of the ruck which Wigglesworth had been unable to provided, and suddenly Saracens went from threatening to frighteningly clinical. One of the best half-hours you’re likely to see all year.
8. Nick Easter – Harlequins
Back in his favoured 8 shirt, Easter showed plenty of experience and class to steer Harlequins to a relatively comfortable win at strugglers Sale. A try was due reward for a professional and composed display.
7. Will Fraser – Saracens
In a monumental contest with grizzled opponent Julian Salvi, Fraser just about shaded it and was one of the main reasons that Saracens were able to take such a noticeable scalp. The abrasive open side was impressively physical in every aspect of play and more than matched his experienced opposite number at the breakdown.
6. Tom Croft – Leicester
With every passing week we see more of the Croft of 2009. Not quite roaming free just yet, this was a more disciplined performance from the returning England star. Ever rangy and threatening with ball in hand, he didn’t shirk the close quarter collisions either and like his teammates on this list, did not deserve to be on the losing side.
5. Tommy Hayes – Exeter
May have worn the 4 shirt, but couldn’t be left out. There would perhaps be a few more Exeter men in this XV if it weren’t for the fact that their opponents were so poor. Still, you can only beat what is put in front of you and Hayes’ effort went a long way towards helping the Chiefs do that. Did all the hard graft and won the battle in the tight exchanges which allowed Naqelevuki and friends to punish the woeful Welsh.
4. Steve Borthwick – Saracens
Whilst his England career is well and truly done, Borthwick is still a force to be reckoned with at club level. Still an excellent lineout leader, his powerful play in the tight, particularly in the final quarter, helped Sarries to a famous win.
3. Logovi’i Mulipola – Leicester
Got through a huge amount of work, more than kept up with the frenetic pace of the game and drew great cheers from the crowd as he barrelled through Saracens defenders. Castro’s boots look comfortable on him.
2. Joe Gray – Harlequins
Another player who, like Easter, didn’t give the flashiest display, but put in a real shift. His lineout work was strong and set the platform for Karl Dickson to cause all manner of problems around the fringes. The Saxon was a bundle of energy in the loose as well.
1. Soane Tonga’uhia – Northampton
Unquestionably one of the best looseheads in the league, the Tongan was immense again this weekend. He put his considerable muscle around at ruck time, as well as covering plenty of ground in the loose. A mention too for his opposite number Charlie Beech, who put in a strong showing for Bath.
By Patrick Cheshire