Two tries for the in-form fullback at the weekend, and they could not have come at a better time. Released to his club along with several other backs in the England squad, it was basically a shootout for the bench spot against Australia – and Foden won it ahead of the likes of Eastmond and Wade, and has duly been retained by Lancaster. If he gets a decent amount of game time, and can recreate the kind of form he has been showing for Northampton, he could well find himself starting at some point this autumn. Indeed, many people believe he should be ahead of Brown in the pecking order anyway – perhaps Lancaster simply really dislikes the Saturdays?
Named in the Saxons squad at the beginning of the season, Simpson is starting to recreate the form that had many predicting he would challenge Ben Youngs in the long term for the England starting scrum-half spot. Injuries and a loss of form have seen him drop down the pecking order, but at the weekend he and Andy Goode played a half-back masterclass in difficult conditions. Simpson’s defensive effort was particularly impressive, one seemingly impossible rip of the ball from the giant Ed Slater summing up his work-rate and desire perfectly. His poor game management has often been levelled at him as a criticism, but at the weekend, in poor conditions, it seemed a lot better. If he can continue that, and keep making the razor-sharp breaks that few of his contemporaries are capable of, there is still time for Simpson to have an international future.
Webber will be heading back to play for Bath again this weekend, but he must be putting plenty of pressure on Hartley and Youngs to get a place in a matchday squad at some point this autumn. On Friday night, at a wet and windy Rec, any hooker could have been forgiven for not hitting his man, but that is exactly what Webber did at 90% of his lineouts. He was also part of a fearsome front row for Bath, that contrived to turn over a whopping five of Gloucester’s eight scrums on their own put in. The final scoreline did not reflect the dominance Webber et al experienced up front.
Nick De Luca
The experienced 29 year-old centre capped an encouraging week by earning himself man-of-the-match honours for Edinburgh against Benetton Treviso in the Pro12 on Friday evening. De Luca’s time away from competitive rugby with a ban has clearly re-stoked his fire as he continually caused Treviso problems, running with purpose, determination and power to help lead his struggling Edinburgh side to an important victory in front of their fans. De Luca’s eye for the gap, timing and strength opened the holes in Treviso’s defence allowing the likes of Laidlaw, Tonks and Leonard to punish the Italians.
The powerful 6ft 5in lock managed to score a brace against a tough Cardiff side who were coming off a confidence-boosting win over reigning Heineken Cup champions Toulon. Tuohy putting in a dominating performance, asserting his size and experience to help his side maintain their impressive form. South African Robbie Diack split the Cardiff defence to put Tuohy over for his opening try, while his second sealed the win for the home side as the powerful second-rower was again in the right place at the right time.
By Jamie Hosie (@jhosie43) and Alex McLeman
Photo by: Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images