15: Ben Foden (Northampton Saints)
‘Impress me’ was the message from Stuart Lancaster to those sent back to their clubs last week, and in an imperious Saints performance Foden managed to do just that. Two tries, one which showcased close-range power, the other his devastating turn of pace, should be enough to see him at least on the bench next weekend against Australia.
14: Ken Pisi (Northampton Saints)
Foden’s partner in crime in the Saints back three, Pisi filled North’s boots superbly. His combination with brother George just inside him paid off in the form of a brilliantly worked try in the second half, and his stats reflect a busy game: 95 metres made, two defenders beaten, two offloads, a try and an assist.
13: Luther Burrell (Northampton Saints)
Burrell would have been another to impress Lancaster at the weekend, averaging over ten metres per carry in a typically powerful performance. Has been shifted to 13 to accommodate the man inside him, but arguably the man in his team who actually played 13, George Pisi, could have been in this team – their partnership has gelled superbly well this season.
12: Ben Botica (Harlequins)
Fourteen points from the boot of Botica were crucial in ensuring Quins returned to winning ways, giving the home fans something to shout about for, incredibly, the first time this season. Also made a few useful darts with ball in hand, racking up thirty metres.
11: Matt Jess (Exeter Chiefs)
One of the unsung heroes of the Exeter backline, Jess may not have got his name on the scoresheet but he did make a huge 84 metres against Worcester, and was part of a backline, and indeed team, that ran riot against the woeful Warriors.
10: Andy Goode (London Wasps)
The wily old fly-half played a masterclass in game management on Sunday afternoon. As the wind and rain lashed Adams Park, Goode probed the corners and made sure, in the shape of two smartly-taken drop goals, that Wasps, despite not enjoying a great deal of territory or possession, ended up well ahead on the scoreboard. Tigers fans can simply only hope young Owen Williams learnt a thing or two.
9: Joe Simpson (London Wasps)
Along with Goode, Simpson formed a half-back parntership that steered the Wasps ship to victory. While opposite man Mélé often looked rushed and agitated, Simpson was the picture of calm. The Wasps’ defensive effort was humungous, and none more so than Simpson’s, who put in ten tackles without missing a single one. Mention to Mike Blair of Newcastle, whose audacious pass just provided an assist for the winning try.
1: Paul James (Bath Rugby)
The Bath front five put in a huge shift on Friday night, destroying their Gloucester neighbours both at the set piece and in several effective driving mauls. James was at the heart of that effort before he was substituted, and is surely pushing hard for a start for Wales this autumn.
2: Mike Heywood (Northampton Saints)
Shorn of their England front row duo, Corbisiero and Hartley, the Saints’ replacement unit fronted up superbly well against an imposing Saracens set-piece. Heywood ensured Northampton had a platform to play from as he won all of his lineouts, and along with Ma’afu and the excellent Waller, scrummaged very well.
3: Anthony Perinise (Bath Rugby)
Gloucester lost five out of eight scrums on their own feed, and in the absence of Dave Wilson, Perinise was the destroyer in chief at scrum-time. Had Ford kicked his goals better, the scoreline would have reflected the true dominance that Bath enjoyed up front.
4: Samu Manoa (Northampton Saints)
Behemoth, man mountain… whichever cliché you prefer to describe the giant American, they both accurately describe his performance this weekend. In nine carries he beat five defenders, including an alarmingly lithe sidestep to comepletely wrong-foot the final defender for his try. Probably the individual performance of the season so far.
5: Dean Mumm (Exeter Chiefs)
Mumm continues to epitomise the Exeter spirit, again working beyond the call of duty against Worcester. His vision and workrate to cut a beautiful support line for his try were excellent; the pace he showed to gallop to the line was unexpectedly impressive. Will be up there with contenders for try of the season after great work from Dollman, Lewis and Steenson.
6: Tom Johnson (Exeter Chiefs)
A superb, almost Croft-like gallop down the right hand touchline, combined with a terrifically-timed pass, gave Johnson a brilliant assist against Worcester to send Dollman in. Will take plenty of confidence back to the England training squad.
7: Ben White (Exeter Chiefs)
A brace for White in an all-action display from the excellent openside. The passion and joy he showed on scoring the tries typifies all that is good about Exeter, and there was also a delightful over-the-top basketball pass for Exeter’s penultimate try.
8: Carl Fearns (Bath Rugby)
In a back-row also featuring François Louw and Matt Garvey, workrate is never going to be an issue, but in the wet of the Rec on Friday night Carl Fearns put in a titanic shift from the back of the scrum. He trucked the ball up an immense 17 times, and was also crucial in Bath’s defensive efforts.
By Jamie Hosie
Follow Jamie on Twitter: @jhosie43
Photo by: Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images