Aviva Premiership Team of the Week: Round 3

Paulica Ion

1: Logovi’i Mulipola (Leicester Tigers)
The Tongan prop has taken on the mantle of number 1 loosehead at the Tigers in the absence of Marcos Ayerza, and he is certainly relishing the role. His ball-carrying is, as you would expect of any Tongan, bruising, and his scrummaging is solid, although it helps having the mighty Leicester pack behind you. Still, Sarries are no slouch in that department, and the Tigers just about edged it on Saturday.

2: Thomas Rhys Thomas (London Wasps)
So good they named him twice? Perhaps not, but the Welshman, who was a new arrival at Adam’s Park over the summer, typified a strong performance from a Wasps pack that excelled against London Irish. Dai Young will be keen to get the most out of the man he worked with back in his Cardiff days, and he will certainly add grit and experience to the Wasps front row.

3: Paulica Ion (London Welsh)
The Romanian journeyman (pictured above) makes the team as a symbol of a London Welsh pack that performed valiantly against the Chiefs, even winning a penalty try. Having set up a rolling maul from a lineout on the 22, they rumbled their way to the 5 metre line before Exeter could drag it down; enough to concede a penalty try in Dave Pearson’s eyes. A strong performance from the experienced Ion.

4: Samu Manoa (Northampton Saints)
The cornerstone of the Saints pack makes the team for the second week in a row on the back of a MOTM performance against Bath. Both breaking and making tackles, he was seemingly everywhere. He has rapidly become a vital part of the Northampton team, and with Lawes back from injury they have plenty of choice in this department.

5: George Robson (Harlequins)
Another man to make the team for a second week in a row, meaning the second row partnership remains unchanged. An incredible scoring record for a lock over these first few games is a testament to his work rate and desire to carry the ball. Away from the glory of scoring tries, Robson does the nitty gritty stuff just as well as any other lock, as well as bossing the lineout.

6: Kelly Brown (Saracens)
There wasn’t much to shout about at Wembley on Saturday, but the performance of Kelly Brown merits at least a cheer. The Scottish utility back-rower tackled everything that moved, covering every blade of grass to keep up Saracens’ exemplary defensive effort at the beginning of this season.

7: Julian Salvi (Leicester Tigers)
Salvi has emerged as probably the most valuable player at Welford Road recently, especially after the regrettable retirements of Ben Woods and Craig Newby. He was at his foraging best here, turning over ball and generally making a nuisance of himself at the breakdown. Along with Mafi and Waldrom, the Tigers can boast a back row unit amongst the best in the game.

8: Ed Jackson (London Welsh)
Ed Jackson makes the team purely for his role in the dramatic events that led to London Welsh’s inaugural Premiership win. When the chips were down and everything pointed towards their third loss in as many games, Jackson kept his cool to power over from short range and send the Exiles players into ecstatic celebration.

9: Joe Simpson (London Wasps)
The young scrum half was at his sniping best on Saturday against London Irish. He teased the Exiles’ defence at the breakdown with sharp breaks, one of which resulted in a smartly taken try, another setting one up for Varndell. More performances like this will play him right into the England reckoning.

10: Nick Evans (Harlequins)
There is no understating the importance of this man to Harlequins. He is yet to sign an extension to his contract past this year, but if he keeps performing the way he is they will surely go to any lengths necessary to tie him down. He was up to his usual tricks here, making breaks and setting up tries, as well as nailing all his kicks. The stand out 10 in the league by a country mile, he taught Cipriani a lesson at the Stoop. Special mention goes to Stephen Jones, who orchestrated a bonus point victory for Wasps on Premiership debut.

11: Tom Varndell (London Wasps)
The forgotten man of English wing-play grabbed a brace here to remind us that he hasn’t gone away. Once talked of as a future England superstar, his form has dipped over the past couple of seasons, but he was back to his best on Saturday. His first try proved his power, barging over from short range, while his second showcased his raw pace, striding away from the Irish covering defence.

12: Jordan Turner-Hall (Harlequins)
Another man to impress for Quins, and another man with designs on a national berth. He was on hand here to finish a move started by Evans, and there was plenty left to do when he received the ball. Stepping round the full-back, he then managed to hold off 2 tacklers from 5 metres out to crash over the line. A promising performance from a man who could yet have a big future.

13: Henry Trinder (Gloucester)
Trinder rounded off a fine team move for Gloucester to cap an excellent performance for the young centre. It was one of the Cherry and Whites’ trademark length-of-the-field efforts, with Trinder having a hand in the build-up before receiving the ball back and scampering away from some coving defenders to cross the whitewash.

14: Matt Jess (Exeter Chiefs)
In an excellent weekend for English wingers, any number of players could have taken this spot. Jess sneaks it though, based on not only a fine performance against the Exiles, but also his consistency over the first 3 rounds. He was on hand here to provide an assist for full-back Arscott before tearing down the wing himself to finish off a good move for the Chiefs.

15: Nick Abendanon (Bath)
The Bath full-back put in a sterling performance against the Saints on Friday night, always full of running and consistently hitting a gap. He took his try well, but the moment that sticks out in the memory is his physics-defying kick down in the left hand corner. Under immense pressure and with no angle whatsoever, he somehow gained 40 metres. Dangerous going forward and solid in defence.

By Jamie Hosie

16 thoughts on “Aviva Premiership Team of the Week: Round 3

  1. Might I add an honorable mention for Luther Burrell at Northampton? Put in a real shift and can move about surprisingly well for such a unit. An excellent replacement for James Downey, in fact I’d say he offers more about the park than the big Irishman (as George Pisi calls him).

      1. TSTT I think – he only played 20 mins but was solid and got about the park. The idea of him and Samu Manoa on the same side is enough to stike terror in to the hearts of the boldest halfbacks though – should be good when Lawes is right back in!

        1. Just realised I need to use language other than ‘about the park’. Lawes was decent but unremarkable, I’d say he needs a start before we can judge his form fully.

    1. Yes Burrell was class! Wasn’t sure when we signed him at first but obviously he’s put in a lot of work in pre season, looks like a really good signing

  2. Mulipola is a Samoan. Thought young Vunipola had a creditable tussle with Cole and with carries, tackles and offloads looks a great prospect.

    1. Apologies about that, Mulipola is indeed a Samoan. And Vunipola looks to have a pretty bright future ahead of him, he certainly dealt with the more experienced Cole well. Along with his carrying and passing ability he could turn into a hell of a player.

  3. Vunipola was possibly Sarries best player again at Wembley, but you’re right about Kelly Brown, he was awesome. I also thought that Tomkins handled Tuilagi pretty well, considering some Sarries fans had said they were worried about his defence. He also looks pretty sharp in attack, always looking for the offload, and has great hands.

  4. So after three rounds, (just for fun) here is my England starting 15 from the pick of players on form.
    1. Mako Vunipola
    2. Dylan Hartley
    3. Dan Cole
    4. Geoff Parling
    5. George Robson
    6. Tom Johnson
    7. Chris Ronshaw
    8. Ben Morgan
    9. Joe Simpson
    10. Olly Barkley
    11. Christian Wade
    12. Brad Barritt
    13. Manu Tuilagi
    14. Matt Jess
    15 Alex Goode

    A couple of new caps, and one player who’s not been called on by England for a while in Barkley. He has been the most consistent English 10 in the first three rounds. Burns probably a close second, and good old Charlie Hodgson keeping them on their toes.

    1. I think Barkley can count himself lucky to be in there ahead of Hodgson, especially after kicking the ball away during the last play in Friday!

      1. It’s a bit of a shame that Hodgson has counted himself out of England contention, because he is probably playing better than most of our options. Flood was pretty poor on Saturday, and I don’t think Farrell is fully fit at the moment. Burns looks sharp, and has played well for Gloucester so far. Could he possibly be in with a shout for the Autumn internationals?
        I would like to see Ford get some more game time for Leicester, as he showed some great touches last season in Floods absence.

  5. (Unfortunately for me) I support Leeds Carnegie where Luther Burrell started his Union career after a short spell at Huddersfield Giants Rugby League.

    He played well everytime he was on the field and still couldnt understand why Back kept him as a substitute. he was the only spark in an otherwise poor back line.

    I was gutted when Leeds went down and he signed for Sale, he had a pretty poor year (in a pretty poor team) but he will be an asset to Saints – he will have gained more experience over that mid season and is an excellent (low key) singing.

    From what i have seen over these 3 rounds he looks to have found the right chance to showcase his talents.

    Hopefully his form should continue and this farily unkown player could soon become a true contender.

  6. T Rhys Thomas went off injured after 40 minutes.I think you may have confused him with Tom Lindsay who had a “blinder” second half—- all over the park and tackling like a “dervish”

  7. Barkley, had a stinker on Friday. Not just his kicking but his inability to pass the ball out when Bath were a man or two over was criminal. Reserving judgement on Saints ability to play attacking rugby at the moment. We look pedestrian outside – Burrell excepted. Varndell & Wade are the two English wingers that stand out at the moment.

    1. Agree with Varndell and Wade but I think it’s a bit soon to be making judgements about Saints’ attacking abilities – we were locked out by a tough Bath defence but scored some quality tries against Gloucester and Bath through both the backs and forwards. Bear in mind that we’ve lost two backs who our attack was built around (Downey and Ashton) and it takes time to bed in the new guys.

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