1: Marcos Ayerza (Leicester Tigers)
Ayerza found himself on the bench for Argentina during the Rugby Championship, and has since been deputising at Leicester too. With Mulipola now away, he got his chance and he reminded us why he is so highly rated. Not only is he a good scrummager he is dynamic in the loose and always picks good running lines.
2: Huia Edmonds (Gloucester)
Edmonds joined Gloucester from the Brumbies over the summer and has brought some ball-playing flair to their front row. He played well against Quins, carrying around the park while also getting all the bread-and-butter parts of the hooker’s game right.
3: Rupert Harden (Gloucester)
In years gone by Gloucester’s lack of a hardened set of forwards has meant they have never managed more than mid-table status. This season looks to be different however, and whilst they don’t look like scrummaging teams off the park they are at least solid in that area. A case in point is Rupert Harden – not a player who is going to set the world alight, but at the weekend against an impressive Quins outfit he more than held his own.
4: Graham Kitchener (Leicester Tigers)
A dour East Midlands derby meant the big lock shone, in a game that was decided up front. Full of grunt and hard work, it told you all you needed to know about the game that Kitchener was man of the match. Still, he has developed some subtle touches to his game also.
5: Alastair Hargreaves (Saracens)
Hargreaves scored Sarries’ only try as they edged past a highly resilient Wasps side on Sunday. The giant South African lock charged down a Charlie Davies kick before racing away from the defenders to touch the ball down. It looks easy but it actually takes a fair bit of skill to dot down a bobbling ball like that.
6: Maurie Fa’asavalu (Harlequins)
The Samoan flanker is one of the most destructive ball carriers in the Premiership, and with the absence of Gloucester’s big South Sea Islander Kalimafoni, Fa’asavalu was able to let loose. As is typical of the Islanders he is so tough to bring down, almost crossing for a try in the first half but being hauled down metres short of the line.
7: Julien Salvi (Leicester Tigers)
Salvi makes such a big difference to the Tigers when he plays. His work at the breakdown is second to none in this league, and it was an area that Leicester dominated against the Saints. Ford may have had an off day with the boot, but had he kicked his goals the Tigers would have won by almost 20 points.
8: Nick Easter (Harlequins)
He may not be in England’s plans for the future, but he certainly the man of the moment at Quins. Easter is in arguably the form of his life and was once again excellent against Gloucester, a calm presence at the back of the scrum leading his side to victory.
9: Haydn Thomas (Exeter Chiefs)
Thomas scored a timely try just as Worcester were starting to edge back into the game. Throwing a clever dummy he spotted the smallest of gaps and nipped through it to touch down and all but secure the victory for the Chiefs.
10: Charlie Hodgson (Saracens)
With other fly halves, including club-mate Owen Farrell, off on international duty, the Premiership is the only thing on Hodgson’s mind. He punished Wasps’ indiscipline on Sunday, slotting seven penalties as well as using all his experience to guide his club to the win.
11: Tom Varndell (London Wasps)
Varndell simply cannot stop scoring at the moment. He took his chance at the weekend with aplomb, accelerating onto a Southwell pass before tearing away from the covering defence to cross in the corner. He doesn’t seem to be in contention for an England call-up, but if he keeps scoring how much longer can he be ignored?
12: Billy Twelvetrees (Gloucester)
With England’s issues at 12, it is no surprise Twelvetrees has just been called up to the squad. He has all the attributes of a quality inside centre: distribution, defence, kicking game, and a handy eye for a gap. They were all on show at the weekend, but whilst he crossed the line sadly it wasn’t quite enough to drag Gloucester with him.
13: Jonny Leota (Sale Sharks)
Sale finally recorded a long overdue win at the weekend, and their midfield rock that is Jonny Leota was in fine form. He crashed over for an important try in the first half and generally marshalled the midfield well. Mention to Matt Hopper at Quins who is also looking good at the moment.
14: Tom Williams (Harlequins)
Williams has made himself a key member of the Quins team, and weighed in with two assists against Gloucester at the weekend. The second was particularly excellent, gliding through a gap and drawing a handful of defenders to him before throwing almost a blind pass for Hopper to scurry over. Mention to Nick Scott for pure drama at the Kassam as he intercepted a Bath pass to win it at the death for Welsh.
15: Mike Brown (Harlequins)
His release from the England squad spurred Brown on to a fine performance in a tantalisingly close win for Harlequins. He showed all his strength to crash over in the corner for his try, and was typically solid under the high ball throughout the game.