15: Mike Brown (Harlequins)
A try and an assist for the Quins fullback, and at an opportune time as well – rivals for the England shirt Ben Foden and Alex Goode also shone this weekend. Brown, however, was the pick of the bunch, with some superb quick hands setting up Joe Marler, before he also darted over the line himself.
14: Dave Strettle (Saracens)
Strettle’s start to the season has been scintillating, and his superb try-scoring form continued this weekend with another brace against Bath. There was nothing too fancy about the finishes but the fact that he is getting himself on the end of these opportunities is hugely encouraging.
13: Manu Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers)
Tuilagi’s tumultuous week ended on a hugely positive note after he reminded everyone just how devastating a player he is. There were nine defenders beaten in total, most of them in one barnstorming burst up the middle in the build-up to Graham Kitchener’s try.
12: Billy Twelvetrees (Gloucester)
There were two bits of brilliance from Twelvetrees against the Saints that should have England fans salivating at the prospect of him nailing down the 12 shirt this autumn. Firstly the timing of his run and the line he picked for his try, and secondly the composure he showed to knock over the match-winning penalty deep into time added on. Another commanding performance from the centre.
11: George North (Northampton Saints)
Jamie Elliot’s early contender for try of the season owes a great deal to the excellence of North. His breathtaking break down the left hand touchline saw him beat four defenders in a five metre channel, before a well timed pass allowed Clark to set up his opposite winger. It was world-class stuff that brought back memories of that try in Australia.
10: Danny Cipriani (Sale Sharks)
The stage was set for Cipriani to steal the show against his old club, and thanks to an unfortunate and painful-looking injury to Nick Macleod his replacement got his chance – and most certainly made the most of it. Cipriani’s was a composed performance that included only one missed kick from seven, and a smartly taken try. If only he could play his old club every week…
9: Jimmy Cowan (Gloucester)
Cowan needed a big performance up against the box-of-tricks that is Kahn Fotuali’i, and he more than delivered. Marshalling the young backline outside him, there was also the awareness on show to take a quick tap penalty and set-up Billy Twelvetrees for Gloucester’s second try.
1: Joe Marler (Harlequins)
Marler was back to his best against Worcester, not only in the scrums but also in the loose where he amassed an astonishing 57 metres made in only 45 minutes of being on the pitch. He also trundled over for a try and was a general nuisance in the loose to remind Vunipola and Corbisiero that he should not be forgotten about.
2: Rob Buchanan (Harlequins)
With Joe Gray cruelly sidelined until the end of November, Buchanan has a chance to get a run of games together that would otherwise not be afforded him due to Quins’ rotation policy. He certainly seemed aware of this on Friday night as he put in a storming performance, coming away with a try to his name to top off an excellent evening’s work.
3: Matt Stevens (Saracens)
Without wishing to be too cruel, you’ve got to feel sorry for whoever was at the bottom of the ruck Stevens dived over to score his try. Still, it was a moment of rare agility and (perhaps this is pushing it…) elegance from the big prop, who also had a good day in the tight exchanges before he was substituted.
4: Dean Mumm (Exeter Chiefs)
Exeter’s victory was built on character and a never-say-die attitude that is at the core of the club, and new captain Mumm epitomises both of these things. He was titanic again at the weekend and came up from the bottom of a rolling maul as the Chiefs pack rumbled over their Irish counterparts.
5: Graham Kitchener (Leicester Tigers)
Two assists and a try is an astonishing return for a hulking lock the size of Kitchener. He has such deft hands for a giant man, as were in evidence for Dan Bowden’s try as he powered through a tackle and gave a gorgeous offload. He also had the presence of mind and technique to scoop the ball up and dive over the line after Tuilagi’s break.
6: Thomas Waldrom (Leicester Tigers)
After a quiet end to last season Waldrom was back to his best this weekend with several carries seeing the Tigers smash over the gainline. The best part of Waldrom’s game, however, was the perfectly flighted pass that fizzed into Tuilagi’s hands to set him on his way as he stormed up the pitch in the build-up to Kitchener’s try. It was a pass of which any fly-half would have been proud, let alone a back-row forward.
7: Chris Robshaw (Harlequins)
As we build towards the Autumn Internationals speculation over Robshaw’s place in the England team will continue to grow, but if he keeps performing like this there can be few who could argue that he does not merit some sort of role in the national team’s future. His presence of mind to rip the ball off Buchanan and then offload to Care after a strong surge was great to watch.
8: Tom Johnson (Exeter Chiefs)
There was nothing flash about Johnson’s performance against London Irish (much like that of his team in general), but he was part of a pack that ultimately proved too strong for their opposition. He was as industrious as ever, making 12 carries for an impressive 35 metres.
By Jamie Hosie
Follow Jamie on Twitter: @jhosie43
Photo by: Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images