Jono Frank reviews another busy weekend and picks out the players that caught the eye.
Simon Zebo – Munster
Munster are currently riding high in the RaboDirect Pro12, and their fine display of running rugby at the weekend in their victory over the Dragons showed us why. However, there was one player who was at the heart of everything good. Simon Zebo, 22, played a pivotal role in the first try, plucking Earls’ long pass out of the air before a neat interchange of passes saw him put Keatley over. The winger then claimed his second assist with a good offload out of the tackle as Munster really began to turn the screw, and he clinched the bonus point for his team with a good piece of handling to keep the ball under control and cross the line.
Rhys Patchell – Cardiff Blues
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, it’s another young Welsh back. It is the turn of Cardiff Blues to highlight how bright, new talent is flourishing in Welsh Rugby. 19-year-old Rhys Patchell said prior to his Pro 12 debut that, “he was terrified”. However, he seems to have quickly shaken off the initial nerves as his performance against Bennetton Treviso this weekend was nothing short of excellent. The youngster looked remarkably calm under pressure as he displayed some sublime handling to flick the ball into Jamie Roberts’ path, allowing the centre to finish off under the posts. As well as an excellent pair of hands, Patchell showed great pace and determination to chase down the Treviso winger as he looked to be clear following an interception.
Jonathan Joseph – London Irish
London Irish finally notched their win points of the season and Jonathan Joseph his first try. The 20-year-old is trying to establish himself in the England squad, but this cause will not be helped by the Exiles’ dismal start to their campaign. However, the centre’s try put daylight between Bath and Irish and he was key to weathering the storm that followed in a fantastic defensive team effort. This was a vital win for London Irish as it will hopefully instil some confidence back into the side – confidence is certainly something Joseph can take away from this performance and will hopefully ensure some consistency from this young, exciting English prospect.
Courtney Lawes – Northampton Saints
Courtney Lawes marked his return to the Premiership with a try, and after being plagued with injuries, the young forward, 23, will have been delighted with his impact. Despite Northampton pulling away in the early stages, the team seemed to go into neutral as Worcester went up through gears to almost stage a startling comeback. Lawes has stated this week that he was pleased with his performance and this match will definitely serve as a friendly reminder to what has been missing. He has also gained a stone in weight whilst being out, so we can look forward to seeing a more powerful player as he looks to reinstate himself in the Aviva Premiership.
By Jono Frank