15: Topsy Ojo (London Irish)
Ojo makes the team almost exclusively for his exquisite crossfield chip that sent Alex Lewington over in the corner on 62 minutes, and in the process effectively killed-off any dreams Harlequins had of a resurgence. It was such a nonchalant little kick from a player not necessarily renowned for his deft touches.
14: Semesa Rokodoguni (Bath)
Rokodoguni is in red-hot try-scoring form at the start of this season, and although the rest of the Bath team were fairly disappointing on Friday night, the winger’s fine finish in the first half lit-up an otherwise lacklustre display. He also managed to get his hands on the ball on plenty of occasions, making 13 carries and beating nine defenders in the process.
13: Ian Whitten (Exeter Chiefs)
Given the dominance of their pack it was not a tough day for the Exeter backs, but Whitten still managed to shine for the Chiefs. There were a couple of clean breaks that showed an impressive turn of pace, to culminate in 61 metres made in total.
12: Sam Hill (Exeter Chiefs)
The young English centre completes an all-Exeter centre partnership after another accomplished performance at the weekend. He is a strong ball-carrier but also has a decent amount of guile, making ten carries and beating three defenders agains Gloucester. A strong start to the season from a man with a bright future.
11: Alex Lewington (London Irish)
The ex-Leicester Tigers winger benefitted from a delightful kick from Topsy Ojo, but the try nevertheless required some finishing. Collecting the ball at a canter, he accelerated and weaved his way past the last couple of Harlequins defenders to nip over in the corner. A quality finish.
10: Danny Cipriani (Sale Sharks)
Cipriani’s return to form would appear, for now, to not just be a blip as many feared. He masterminded Sale to another impressive victory on Friday night, showing impressive game management to knock over a drop goal in the first half, and generally keep the scoreboard ticking over with his boot. Even more impressively, he made 12 tackles without missing one. A changed player? Still a long way to go, but the signs are good. Mentions also to Steenson, Flood and Myler, all of whom impressed in different ways.
9: Mike Blair (Newcastle Falcons)
The Falcons’ chances of survival were always likely to be decided by the performances of their senior players, and the veteran Blair proved his worth in a canny performance against Worcester. he marshalled his forwards well, and darted over for a try that ultimately decided the game. A commanding influence in what was a huge, huge win for his team.
1: Logovi’i Mulipola (Leicester Tigers)
Until the final 10 minutes or so, as Mulipola and Cole began to tire against the Saints’ fresh legs, the Tigers’ set piece was utterly dominant. Mulipola, along with Youngs and Cole, formed a front row unit that won the set piece battle and also offered himself as a strong ball-carrying unit on occasion.
2: Tom Youngs (Leicester Tigers)
Lots of hookers impressed at the weekend, with Whitehead of Exeter and Taylor of Sale coming close to the team, as well as Youngs’ opposite man Dylan Hartley. Youngs gets the nod thanks to the significance of his performance; up against his direct rival for the England shirt, his already outstanding workrate seemed to go up a notch, making ten tackles as well as overseeing a faultless lineout.
3: Hoani Tui (Exeter Chiefs)
Tui was stopped millimetres short of the tryline, and arguably deserved five points to his name for a power-packed performance. Part of a front five that brutalised a lightweight Gloucester unit at the set piece, he also made several telling carries close to the opposition’s line.
4: Dean Mumm (Exeter Chiefs)
Mumm has been an excellent choice of captain down at the Chiefs. On Sunday afternoon he inspired his team to bounce back from last weekend’s disappointing defeat to the Tigers to win at what is – traditionally, at least – one of the toughest places to do so in the league. A smartly taken try and 52 metres made with ball in hand is not a bad return for a man with plenty of responsibilities on the pitch.
5: Joe Launchbury (London Wasps)
Credit must go to Wasps for the way the hung on against Saracens, and no-one epitomised their never-say-die attitude this weekend more than Launchbury. His unyielding workrate was again to the fore, making 12 tackles and several important carries. Lawes also went well for Northampton – that could be a welcome selection headache for Stuart Lancaster.
6: Blair Cowan (London Irish)
London Irish’s was one of the performances of the round, and Blair Cowan (playing openside on Saturday), who joined from Worcester over the summer, was in fine form against Quins. He crashed over for a try and was busy all afternoon, offering himself for 17 carries and chucking a couple of neat offloads in the process. Mention to Mark Wilson of Newcastle who made an astonishing 24 tackles in a titanic defensive effort at Worcester.
7: Will Fraser (Saracens)
It was fantastic to see Fraser back on the rugby pitch after an extended period on the sidelines. He had a solid game against Wasps, including a smart finish of a nice team move started by Owen Farrell. Got his head down and made his tackles in general play.
8: Sam Dickinson (Northampton Saints)
Dickinson is a man mountain. If it is too early to talk of him as a bolter for England, then that time cannot be too far off. The giant, bald no.8 oozes physicality, consistently making yards over the gainline but also showing the awareness to offload when it is appropriate. Mention to Ewers of Exeter who was a workhorse against Gloucester.
By Jamie Hosie
Follow Jamie on Twitter: @jhosie43
Photo by: Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images