International Scout Notes – 2nd Oct

Jono Frank reviews the weekend’s action, picking out players that could feature for the home nations this Autumn.

Adam Thompstone – Leicester Tigers
Hat-trick hero Adam Thompstone couldn’t have had a better debut. Despite owing much to the excellent performances of Toby Flood and Matt Smith, the 25 year-old winger displayed explosive pace and a clinical finishing ability to condemn Exeter Chiefs to a 30 – 8 defeat. The winger’s first try was a fantastic example of wing play and raw acceleration. Upon receiving the ball at an almost standing start, Thompstone was able to exploit the little bit of space in front of him to burst over the try line. With Ben Foden set to miss the Autumn Internationals, there are places in the back three up for grabs – could Thompstone be in the reckoning?

Owen Farrell – Saracens
Whilst Saturday’s papers were purring about the prospect of Freddie Burns, it was a somewhat more familiar fresh face that stole the show this weekend. Owen Farrell produced a faultless kicking display to not only claim all of his side’s points, but inflict a first defeat of the season on high-flying Harlequins. The 20 year-old has been in stiff competition with the fine form of Charlie Hodgson; however, this commanding performance provided a timely reminder that he is very much in the frame for the England number 10 shirt. The match was defined by the battle between the two fly-halves, with Farrell seeming to have the cooler head than his Kiwi counterpart Nick Evans.

Shaun Knight – Gloucester
Gloucester have a number of exciting, youthful players emerging. Fine performances from the likes of Burns and Billy Twelvetrees are testament to this, but it’s 22 year-old prop Shaun Knight, who capped off a plucky and resilient display with a well taken try, who gets my vote this week. Knight, who started the game on the bench, made the desired impact in the last 20 minutes as London Welsh fought their way back into the game. The youngster spoke to local press after the game and showed a maturity and understanding of the contention for places within the team. The importance of changes within the front row is aptly described as, “a 6- minute arm wrestle, or a 20-minute blast”, and Knight provided that impact just when it was needed. One for the future for England perhaps.

David McSharry – Connacht
Connacht will have come away with their heads held high from this derby match. To win so convincingly as underdogs and the manner in which they dispatched Leinster is quite an achievement. The player who contributed most to Connacht’s flowing rugby was 22 year-old centre David McSharry, the youngster opening the scoring with a fantastically timed run from deep to burst over the try line and was instrumental in initiating the move which sent Vainikolo over for Connacht’s second. Dan Parks’ excellent kicking stretched Connacht’s lead to cement their win over the European champions and the team’s second of the season.

Steffan Jones – Newport Gwent Dragons
A good performance by the Dragons was characterised by the decisiveness of young fly-half Steffan Jones, 21. Two well-taken drop goals showed not only the youngster’s ability, but also the vision and understanding to see an opportunity when it presents itself. The second of these attempts was particularly impressive as the fly-half recognised that the attack was slowing down and dropped into the pocket to calmly slot the three points. It was vital that the Dragons won as they are desperate to gather some momentum in order to kick start their season. The coolness under pressure and the presence of mind to take the points when they presented themselves is even more impressive.

By Jono Frank

16 thoughts on “International Scout Notes – 2nd Oct

  1. Having watched the Saracens game I thought Nick Evans had a better game than Farrell, it was just his place kicking that let him down and proved to be the deciding factor. Farrell will take a lot of confidence from his kicking but as shown by the score it was a game short of attacking endeavour thanks to the strength of the defences. That said I thought Quins looked more dangerous and it just goes to show that games between these top sides can be won by the smallest of margins, in this case the classiness of Nick Evans being slightly off for one game.

  2. I don’t understand why peoples minds change so quickly. We didn’t learn anything new about Farrell this weekend. He can kick, he can defend yes. But he can attack the way that international Fly Halfs need to, and he didn’t do so this weekend so nothing changes for me. He is being Burns and Flood in the pecking order still.

    I didn’t see much of Adam Thompstone – but he may be intersting, there is becoming a long list of names of play on the opposite wing to Ashton come the Autumn.

  3. I agree with Jacob. Until Farrell begins to indicate that he has another dimension to his game, he will get caught out at international level.

    Great international teams do not have fly halves who are strong on kicking duties but lacking elsewhere.

    I know it’s harsh, but Farrell isn’t even the best fly half on Saracens’ books, let alone the country.

    If the Autumn International’s were tomorrow I’d give Freddie Burns a run out against Fiji in the first match and bring him off the bench to replace Flood the following week.

  4. Any discussion about Farrell quickly bores me. He appears to lack the attacking ambition to add another dimension and therefore he may squander the talent outside of him.

    Give me a FH who sets the backs free to attack please! So Flood or Burns for me please.

  5. My starting line up for England’s Autumn internationals based on record, fitness and current form would be:

    1. J.Marler
    2. D. Hartley
    3. D.Cole
    4. G. Robson
    5. C. Lawes
    6. T. Johnson
    7. C. Robshaw
    8. B. Morgan

    9. D. Care
    10. T. Flood
    11. U. Monye
    12. B. Barritt
    13. M. Tuilagi
    14. C. Ashton
    15. M. Brown

    16. D. Wilson
    17. J. Gray
    18. G. Parling
    19. T. Wood
    20. J. Simpson
    21. F. Burns
    22. A. Goode

    I would swap in Alex Corbisero for David Wilson, Tom Croft for Tom Johnson, Ben Youngs for Joe Simpson and Ben Foden for Alex Goode if all were fit and on form and I would have Christian Wade ready and waiting to take Monye’s position if he didn’t perform.

  6. A bit bish bosh and predictable in the centre, although to be fair I can’t see any other options spring immediately to mind. There are players developing but not ready yet. Hope the Saxons have some games – does anyone know if they do?

    1. Sorry, also meant to add – other than that it is pretty much what you would pick although second row might be up in the air abit. I’m not sure what combinations really work.

  7. Tend to agree with Caveman’s team and pretty much everything he said in regards to who he would bring in when fit. Although I would like to give Wade a run, potentially against Fiji.

  8. Eighth place on the bench reserved for a prop, there is no longer any need for a prop “who can play both sides” because you can now have one loosehead and one tighthead on the bench.
    So Wilson will be there.

    1. In the team laid out above I would suggest Robshaw? He has played there a bit.
      It is this dilemma though that would lean me towards having Haskell on the bench, as he is comfortable playing all three!

      1. Would rather have Waldrom on the bench and Lawes swapped into the back row personally. I feel that there has been more players swapping between lock and 6 this season in the AP. I don’t know if it is a couple of one offs or whether the positions are more interchangeable than before?

        1. I think that potentially they are becoming more international. Gone are the days of the big lumps at lock; they are all athletes not that can often do a job at 6.

  9. Luther Burrell has been excellent for saints. His size and speed set him up to offload a great try against a set defence. Wade looks dangerous so I’d have him on the bench for sure.

  10. My team on current form (and fitness) would be:
    1. Marler
    2. Hartley
    3. Cole
    4. Robson
    5. Parling
    6. Johnson
    7. Robshaw (c)
    8. Morgan
    9. Care
    10. Burns
    11. Wade
    12. Barritt
    13. Tuilagi
    14. Ashton
    15. Brown

    16. Gray
    17. Wislon (if I knew Vunipola could play both sides he would be in)
    18. Lawes (have him on the bench as a second or back row option)
    19. Waldrom
    20. Simpson
    21. Farrell
    22. Goode

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