After England’s successful tour of Australia in the summer, the Aviva Premiership got back underway last weekend and we’ve rated the top English performers (including England qualified) from the opening round of League action – with one eye on the upcoming November’s Test matches.
1. Mako Vunipola – Saracens
Vunipola gave another impressive performance in a game where Saracens struggled to make an impact early on.
2. Tommy Taylor – Wasps
Taylor was awarded Man of the match when Wasps faced Exeter at the Ricoh. It was a huge eighty-minute performance from the hooker.
3. Henry Thomas – Bath
This was a big performance from the forgotten England man, with Bath upsetting Northampton at Franklin’s Gardens. He bossed the set piece and dominated all around the field.
4. Dave Attwood – Bath
Attwood gave a typically aggressive and destructive display at Franklin’s Gardens, demonstrating he is not done with that England side yet.
5. George Kruis – Saracens
Kruis was unlucky not to score his side’s first try, yet his carrying has improved even more from last season and his work in the lineout was spot on as per usual.
6. Josh Beaumont – Sale
Beaumont gave a captain’s performance for an ultimately losing cause, with an impressive 13 tackles made. However, he just failed to keep Newcastle from winning by a narrow two points.
7. Brendan O’Connor – Leicester
O’Connor finished off an important try for the Tigers, and his overall disruption of the breakdown was vital for his team’s comeback.
8. Billy Vunipola – Saracens
The younger Vunipola brother always turns up for whichever team he plays for, and consistently puts said team on the front foot.
9. Sam Harrison – Leicester
Harrison’s man-of-the-match effort saw his energy and goal kicking inspire his team to a remarkable comeback against Glouceser.
10. George Ford – Bath
Ford was exemplary against Northampton, scoring all of Bath’s point in a historic win for them at Franklin’s Gardens.
11. Tom Varndell – Bristol
Needing six tries this season to overtake Mark Cueto as the highest Premiership try scorer of all time, Varndell grabbed his first in the opener, and also showed his very capable skills in defence.
12. Will Hurrell – Bristol
Although Bristol came out of their return to the Premiership with a loss, their first-half performance is something to be very proud of, especially the performance of Will Hurrell, formerly of Doncaster. His strong running caused Harlequins all sorts of problems and he looks very promising.
13. Joe Marchant – Harlequins
Marchant was electric in the Junior World Cup, and he demonstrated similar traits through an excellent finish to take a half-time lead against Bristol. This year could be a huge year for the young Quin.
14. Henry Purdy – Gloucester
Purdy showed real gas and wit as he stepped passed a Leicester defender on the counter attack and sprinted fifty metres to score under the posts. It was a very impressive score, accompanied by a very dangerous all-round game to start the season.
15. Alex Goode – Saracens
If ever there was a man to be relied upon when things are not going to plan, Alex Goode is that man. Saracens were sloppy and rusty all around the park, apart from when Goode had his hands on the ball. He has a beautiful ability to always create something about of nothing, as if he were an All Black.
Angus Cross, Pundit Arena