Gloucester’s start to the season may have be up and down but the England centre has maintained the same level of form and consistency that saw him drafted into the Lions squad. A composed performance at number 10, filling in for the ill Freddie Burns, gave Gloucester a much needed boost with Twelvetrees notching five penalties and a conversion. Although he isn’t at his most comfortable at fly-half, a hard-fought win in the Heineken cup may give Gloucester the necessary boost to push on in the Aviva Premiership. With Barritt and Tuilagi out for the Autumn Internationals the diverse number 12 stands every chance of keeping his place and establishing himself in Stuart Lancaster’s plans.
Harlequins needed a boost and the Scarlets were not welcome guests at The Stoop. With the three Williams notching a try each, there were few positives for the former English champions. 20-year old Jordan is a well-oiled machine and notched the try of the opening week with great speed, power and skill. He is able to play fly-half or fullback, and with Wales currently boasting a wealth of talent coming through the ranks it’s going to be an interesting and exciting Autumn Series for them. Williams will need to continue in the same vein to assure him-self a place in the international set up.
A fantastic performance by Exeter provided a boost for English sides this weekend. A well-earned and hard-fought victory over Cardiff Blues helped to disperse the creeping doubts of English sides falling short in the group stages. Exeter are seemingly enjoying the second year in Europe and with talismanic characters such as Johnson in good form there is no reason they can’t enjoy a good run. With momentum gathering domestically and in Europe, not to mention the injury to Tom Croft, there is no reason why the England flanker can’t go on to cement himself in the international set up once again.
Five penalties and a conversion from the in-form fly-half helped send Ulster to an all important home win against Leicester at the weekend. The young maestro has proved once again that he is one of Ireland’s most exciting prospects and a player who has situated himself right behind Racing Metro’s Jonathan Sexton in the battle for Ireland’s no.10 shirt. The up-coming Autumn Internationals will surely offer more guidance as to who is the better player but if Jackson continues to outclass top opposition in the Pro12 and Heineken Cup, Sexton’s job is not as secure as everyone might think.
Jackson has been quietly making huge strides with Ulster as he continues his rugby education at one of Europe’s top teams. His starring role against Leicester came off the back of another top performance against the Ospreys, where he kicked six out of six to help secure an invaluable victory.
A player who has scored 56 tires from 96 games for Edinburgh, Tim Visser never really finds himself in the shadows as he is often the go-to player for both club and country. He has recently returned from injury, which has kept him out of Edinburgh’s last four PRO12 games, but has still managed to score in his last two outings.
His late try for Edinburgh against Munster at the weekend registered the club’s first win in the Heineken Cup for 18 months in a surprise 29-23 victory. The Dutch-born winger displayed the skills and talent Edinburgh have been missing this season, his hard running a constant threat that forced Munster to defend heavily. The skilful winger has won the RaboDirect PRO12 top try scorer title five years in a row, something he has admitted will be difficult to maintain this season, but with his showing against Munster in round one and Perpignan next up, he could be aiming for a new title in a new competition.
By Jono Frank and Alex McLeman
Photo by: Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images