Aviva Premiership Team of the Week: Round 2

15: Ben Foden (Northampton Saints)
Foden dealt fantastically well with atrocious conditions for back-play on Friday night. In the monsoon that hit South-West London the England hopeful was assured at the back and looked lively on the counter attack, making 56 metres from only nine carries – not a bad return, given the weather.

14: Marland Yarde (London Irish)
How important could Yarde’s brace of tries this weekend be in the grander scheme of Premiership survival? They were both exemplary finishes from a man who is looking more and more like England’s answer on the wing. Without his try-scoring nous Irish would not have come away with a crucial four points. Mention to Adam Thompstone who managed two classy assists for the Tigers.

13: Vereniki Goneva (Leicester Tigers)
The big Fijian again dazzled with some alarmingly quick footwork that left no fewer than three Bath defenders clutching at thin air. There was also less of the erratic about this performance from Goneva, who adapted well to his new role in the centres. Bagged a well-deserved try with some good support work.

12: Joel Tomkins (Saracens)
Has been moved inside one due to Goneva’s excellence. The Saracens centre cut a beautiful line to scythe through the Gloucester defence for the home side’s opening try, and then delivered a precision pass under huge pressure from a rush defence in the build up to Strettle’s first try. Mention to MOTM Luther Burrell who was titanic in defence for the Saints.

11: Tom James (Exeter Chiefs)
A brace on your home debut is a pretty good way to endear yourself to the fans, and that is exactly what gnarled winger James got against Wasps. Both were smartly finished, involving quick feet and no little power and pace. Could be a very astute signing by the Chiefs. Mention to Matt Banahan who looks a lot more comfortable back out on his wing.

10: George Ford (Bath)
17 points for the young fly-half is enough to see him in our Team of the Week for the second round running. It was another mature performance from Ford, whose kicking out of hand was also exemplary, pinning his old club back at crucial times.

9: Haydn Thomas (Exeter Chiefs)
With many games disrupted by poor weather it was a tough weekend to be a scrum-half. The Chiefs’ Thomas was the pick of the bunch, however, sniping around the fringes of the contact areas, and with a total of 79 metres mate from a mere six carries, he was very successful. Took a clever quick tap penalty to set the ball rolling for James’ exemplary second score.

1: Alex Corbisiero (Northampton Saints)
In dour conditions at the Stoop the game was always going to be won up front, and Corbisiero’s work both at the scrum and in the tight exchanges helped the Saints gain the foothold they needed. Comprehensively out-scrummaged the Quins unit, and also put in seven carries and tackles.

2: Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints)
Ten tackles from the Saints captain as he rallied his troops in the dying exchanges to keep a resurgent Harlequins at bay. Part of a front five that dominated the tight exchanges.

3: Oliver Tomaszczyk (Newcastle Falcons)
Much like the other Friday night game, conditions dictated Newcastle’s victory over Sale was one based on a mammoth tight five effort. The Falcons’ scrum was on top throughout the game, leading to several kickable penalties for Phil Godman. Tomaszczyk, for the 53 minutes he spent on the pitch, was central to that effort.

4: Ed Slater (Leicester Tigers)
Slater really came of age last season and his fine form shows no sign of abating. It was for a losing cause here, but his support work and ball-carrying played a huge part in Leicester’s tries, and he also managed to bag one himself. Has a surprising turn of pace for a big lock forward.

5: Scott Macleod (Newcastle Falcons)
Newcastle notched their first win of the season and this was in no small part down to a heroic defensive effort. Sale triumphed in almost every attacking statistic, and towering lock Macleod was at the forefront of the Falcons’ attempts to keep the Sharks at bay, making a humongous 19 tackles.

6: Billy Vunipola (Saracens)
It was another commanding performance from Billy Vunipola who looks to be enjoying himself on the flank. That said, his most telling contribution came after he had shifted to no.8, controlling the ball well at the base of a five metre scrum, before powering over the line for the bonus point try. 59 metres made from 13 carries are impressive stats for a forward.

7: Jacques Burger (Saracens)
It was a great to see Burger completing 80 minutes of rugby after his injury-ravaged campaign last season. He tackled everything that moved here, as Gloucester put up a valiant fight despite their numerical disadvantage.

8: Leroy Houston (Bath Rugby)
Houston looks a solid signing for the West Country outfit, again impressing with his ball carrying against the Tigers. There was nothing flash about his performance, but he got his side over the gainline repeatedly.

By Jamie Hosie
Follow Jamie on Twitter: @jhosie43

Photo by: Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images

4 thoughts on “Aviva Premiership Team of the Week: Round 2

  1. I don’t normally like picking out the big names, but North and Fotuali’i were excellent on Friday night. I was at the Stoop and believe me it was hammering down! Every time North had the ball he made strong yards – that said I didn’t see the Cheifs game so can’t comment on him being in there over James, same said for Thomas at 9. But Fotuali’i was brilliant, commanding performance, really bossing his forwards around and keeping Quins honest around the fridges with a few little darts. Saints look very good this year.

  2. Taylor was also excellent for Sarries at the weekend. He has improved massively since getting selected for, and training with the Scotland team.

  3. Marvellous home debut for James at Sandy Park… well deserved and the name I was hoping to see in the list! Great to see Haydn Thomas get a pick as well. He’s been great since Chiefs got into the Premiership… just a shame he’s a bit too old to trouble the England selectors!

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