Aviva Premiership Team of the Week: Round 6
1: Brett Sturgess (Exeter Chiefs)
Sturgess took his try with all the aplomb of a seasoned international winger, not a 30 year old uncapped loosehead prop. Still, he fielded a pass a metre above his head and had the presence of mind to cut back in towards the post to make the conversion easier too. At the heart of a great win for the Chiefs.
2: David Paice (London Irish)
The London Irish hooker scored a try amidst an excellent all-round performance from a London Irish team that was not at all fancied coming into the match. Receiving the ball about 5 metres out, the squat hooker barrelled and rolled his way past a handful of Northampton tacklers for his side’s second try of the afternoon.
3: Halani Aulika (London Irish)
This was billed as the might of the unbeaten Northampton pack rolling into Reading to steamroll a London Irish unit that was yet to get its act together. What happened instead no-one saw coming. Aulika put in another fine performance and as tighthead was the cornerstone of the Irish pack that refused to roll over against their much-fancied opponents.
4: Ed Slater (Leicester Tigers)
The Tigers found themselves under pressure for long periods of the match against Sale, but their defence was pretty much impeccable. A large part of this was down to Slater, who tackled his heart out and snaffled any loose ball on the ground. A strong outing from the lock on his return to the side.
5: Tom Palmer (London Wasps)
It wasn’t pretty stuff at Adams Park on Sunday, but they will be pleased to come away with the 4 points, and noone more so than veteran lock Palmer. The Englishman showed great sleight of hand to send prop Simon McIntyre over for their only try of the afternoon.
6: Jordan Crane (Leicester Tigers)
Crane has come back from a long injury lay-off and captained the Tigers to two victories on the bounce. He was excellent against Sale, carrying strongly and controlling the ball at the base of the scrum on the many occasions that the Tigers’ pack marched their opposite numbers backwards. He is so good at this that Leicester move him to no.8 just to utilise his ball control skills.
7: Jamie Gibson (London Irish)
The young Englishman will have done his international credentials no harm with a performance of the highest quality against the Saints. Tenacious in the tackle and destructive in the loose, he took is try fantastically well, showing all his pace to outrun the Saints’ covering defence for the bonus point score.
8: Ben Morgan (Gloucester)
The West Country derby was typically feisty and the result was close, but Gloucester could have won by plenty more had they finished off their chances. Ben Morgan had a great game at 8, carrying and offloading well. He issued a timely reminder to the England selectors that he hasn’t gone away.
9: Tomás O’Leary (London Irish)
There is a very Irish theme to the team this week, and scrum half O’Leary was another Exile to impress in a victory that fans will hope will turn their season around. As the weeks go on he is forming a handy partnership with fellow Irishman and new signing Ian Humphreys, one which is full of running and will keep defences on their toes.
10: Charlie Hodgson (Saracens)
Hodgson’s hero-to-villain performance was enough for him to make the team despite some strong performances across the Premiership in the 10 position. After gifting London Welsh an early try, he more than made amends with 28 points of his own, including a well taken try, securing victory for Sarries against a plucky Exiles outfit. Humphreys also caught the eye for Irish, and young George Ford played with enormous composure to orchestrate Tigers’ win at Sale.
11: Shane Monahan (Gloucester Rugby)
The giant Irish wing was in destructive form for Gloucester as they beat fierce rivals Bath on Saturday. One lolloping break in the first half stood out, while he crossed the line in the second half only to have it ruled out by the TMO. Gloucester look to have more strength in depth than in recent memory, which will encourage their fans going into the European break.
12: Jason Shoemark (Exeter Chiefs)
Shoemark bagged a brace in a strong second half performance from the Chiefs. His first was a powerful finish after a dazzling break and offload from centre partner Phil Dollman, and his second saw him take advantage of a Quins handling error before stepping his way through the covering tackles to the line.
13: Jonathan Joseph (London Irish)
The young centre who made his England debut over the summer has looked a little off the boil in an Exiles outfit that has made a stuttering start to the season. He was back to his best here, however, scoring their first try after some neat grubbers through and having a hand in 2 of his side’s remaining 3 tries – his break and offload to Ojo for his score was particularly sublime.
14: Phil MacKenzie (London Welsh)
The Canadian winger showed great awareness as well as a handy turn of pace to hack a loose ball downfield before collecting and dotting down for a useful try for London Welsh. He then set up Arscott in the second half with a beautifully timed pass, after a dash of brilliance from Henson on his return.
15: Rob Miller (Sale Sharks)
Sale played well in parts against the Tigers, but often lacked creative spark going forwards- that is, apart from when Miller was on the ball. He looked dangerous every time he got it, scything through the defence and keeping Leicester on their toes. Full back is a position up for grabs for England in the AIs, and more performances like this will put Miller in the frame, albeit as a wildcard if Sale continue to lose.