Burrell fired more warning shots across the England bow at the weekend – this is not just a brief upturn in form, he is here to stay on the international radar. While his try was supremely unorthodox, there was still plenty of the powerful running and slick handling that has made him such a favourite with fans this season, and had many calling for him to get a start during the Autumn Internationals. He is on Lancaster’s radar – that much we know – but if he keeps performing this well, it will be tough for the coach to keep ignoring his claims for inclusion much longer.
Loosehead prop is not a position of weakness for England, but as the autumn series showed, you are never more than a couple of injuries away from having to call up an unexpected replacement. On Saturday’s evidence, the fact that Matt Mullan was called up and not Bath prop Nathan Catt seems faintly ludicrous. Catt was part of a front five that mullered Mullan and his pals and, although they weren’t opposite each other, Catt certainly looked more the international player. At 25 he has time on his side, and he has featured heavily for the youth teams while also being capped for the Saxons, so knows the England ethos. While Corbisiero, Vunipola and Marler are the undisputed top three, if Catt continues his good form he will not be that far behind.
All the talk is of Christian Wade and Marland Yarde at the moment, but if May can put together a run of form without being interrupted by injury, he can certainly rival those two in terms of out and out finishing ability. On Saturday, in a losing cause, he made 116 metres, three clean breaks and beat five defenders, crossing the whitewash in the process. Imagine what he could do behind a pack that didn’t go backwards every week?
Tovey kicked two penalties, a drop goal and two conversions – one of which was of his own try – to lead the Dragons to a dominant win. Conditions were not ideal on Friday evening as temperatures dropped to below freezing in Glasgow, but the young fly-half controlled the game with confidence and style, not allowing Glasgow’s main attacking threats – Stuart Hogg and Nikola Matawalu – any room to impose themselves on the match. After falling behind early Tovey reversed things, attacking Glasgow with guile and near perfect game management to finally record a victory against Scottish opposition after four previous attempts.
An impressive kicking display and a cool head helped the Ospreys avoid a surprise loss at home to a tough Zebre team who were very close to another upset on Welsh soil. Morgan kicked into gear after seeing his side fall behind early, kicking six penalties and one conversion to lead the Welsh region to a 30–20 win. The 21–year old looked confident and composed as he was routinely put under pressure by the visitors’ defence. Morgan set-up both of the Ospreys’ tries with perfectly weighted passes following two impressive line-breaks, which left the Zebre defenders completely flat footed. In the face of such a motivated and physical Zebre side Morgan demonstrated a calm head and talent which will not have gone unnoticed by Wales head coach Warren Gatland.
Photo by: Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images