As the Six Nations took a break over the weekend, the Gallagher Premiership returned with a bang. After some pulsating action in Round 13, Joe Harvey has selected his Team of the Week.
1. Richard Barrington (Saracens) – Not a try scorer in this fixture, Barrington is in this side due to how long his shift was. Playing for just over 70 minutes, ‘Baz’ scrummaged extremely well against England international Dan Cole, who was in action against the French last week. Added to this, 10 tackles helped to shut out Leicester in the second half. It was good to see Barrington perform so well.
2. Tom Dunn (Bath) – On his 100th appearance for Bath, Tom Dunn had as reliable a performance as ever. Playing just short of an hour, the former University of Bath student made 10 tackles, made the hard yards with ball in hand and caused two turnovers for Todd Blackadder’s side.
3. Vincent Koch (Saracens) – Like his loosehead teammate, Koch played over 70 minutes for Sarries and was solid. Scrumming well against Greg Bateman and taking the ball to the line on several occasions, it was in defence that Kock was most noticeable. Making a fairly astonishing 17 tackles, the Springbok was totally immense for Sarries.
4. Will Rowlands (Wasps) – This has, potentially, been Will Rowlands’ best season as a professional. Making 74 meters on his trip to Ashton Gate, Rowlands was a vital player for Dai Young. Add on the 13 tackles that the lock made, Rowlands put together another well-rounded performance for his club. Very impressive.
5. Alex Moon (Northampton Saints) – Ginormous lock, Moon, was another instrumental figure for what has been an indifferent Northampton Saints this season. Making a rare start for Saints, the lock made 11 tackles and had five lung-busting carries. Going for 44 meters across those five carries, Moon moved surprisingly quickly despite his 207cm stature. It would be good to see more of the former Sedburgh pupil in the Premiership.
6. Elliott Stooke (Bath) – Playing in an unfamiliar position, Elliott Stooke excelled at blindside, and was possibly the strongest man of the match contender. Despite only making six tackles, Stooke was most effective as an attacking threat at the Rec. Making 61 meters in attack on the 15 occasions that the Englishman had possession of the ball is remarkable, considering how little he carries the ball at lock. Eddie, are you paying attention?
7. Thomas Young (Wasps) – Not many players can say that they put in two man of the match performances in less than seven days. Thomas Young is one, though. Scoring a try in the 10th minute of the game, Young was a nightmare for Bristol all night. Getting to every breakdown, causing a turnover and even making 20 tackles, this was a magnificent performance from the Welsh international.
8. Tom Wood (Northampton Saints) – In a somewhat unfamiliar role, Wood played an all-round game for the Saints. Scoring a try in the first half, Wood carried consistently for Chris Boyd, made 11 tackles and, crucially, caused two turnovers as Northampton dominated the Sale at the Gardens.
9. Cobus Reinach (Northampton Saints) – Cobus Reinach may have just won the battle of the Premiership’s South African scrum-halves against Sale. Only playing for 55 minutes, Reinach scored two tries in 11 minutes, maintaining his amazing try scoring form. Playing at such a high level for the 55 minutes he was on the pitch, Reinach will be up for the player of the season award. With good reason too.
10. Alex Goode (Saracens) – Playing fairly regularly at fly-half, Goode couldn’t make the game look easier. The way that he can easily change position is ridiculous, and this game is yet another example. Kicking two conversions and a penalty, Goode even made six tackles, kicked well from hand and carried for 51 meters over just three attempts of breaking the gainline.
11. Tom Collins (Northampton Saints) – Coming onto the pitch for the injured Dan Biggar, Collins had a pretty good game despite his early involvement. Scoring a brace, Collins continues to be a reliable performer for the Saints. Defending admirably and getting his side on the front foot at any given opportunity, Collins’ performance cannot be overlooked.
12. Billy Twelvetrees (Gloucester) – Maligned in his England days for being inconsistent, in recent times, Twelvetrees has been anything but as he led Gloucester to a good win over Exeter on Friday night. Showing good guidance on the field, reliability from the tee and a good skillset, Twelvetrees was virtually untouchable underneath the floodlights.
13. Rory Hutchinson (Northampton Saints) – A second good performance in a row for Hutchinson gets him into this side. Scoring a try in Northampton’s dismantling of Sale, Hutchinson carried the ball for well over 100 meters and acted as a reliable distributor to the wings. Added to this, he produced a vital turnover. Hutchinson is turning some heads.
14. Ollie Thorley (Gloucester) – After an omission from Eddie Jones’ England squad, Thorley’s form hasn’t dipped whatsoever. Carrying the ball on 15 occasions, a high amount for a wing, Thorley made 136 meters with ball in hand. Getting Gloucester on the front foot with every carry, Exeter had no way of stopping the flyer from tearing them to shreds.
15. Matt Gallagher (Saracens) – Replaced by Max Malins late on, Matt Gallagher has impressed in recent weeks for Saracens. Not forced into making a single tackle in this game, Gallagher was extremely effective in attack. Feeding his wingers regularly, the fullback was untouchable the 19 times that he touched the ball.
Widely regarded as the most competitive rugby union league in the world...it can only be the Gallagher Premiership.
12 teams compete in the league over a season, playing every team both home and away, before four move into the playoffs and one is relegated.
The division is becoming more and more exciting as each year passes by so who will be lifting silverware at Twickenham in May?
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