Well Round 4 delivered didn’t it!!? From Friday night to Sunday afternoon we were spoiled by shock results, big individual performances and more. There’s a healthy debate to be had regarding which was the biggest head turning event of the weekend. Was it the 68 point roller coaster at Sixways? Newcastle Falcons’ victory on the road? Or, Harlequins defeat of the reigning champions? I’ll leave that you to ponder of that one and instead take a look at some of the weekend’s top performers.
There are a number of players that have really upped their game at the start of this Premiership season and one is Guy Thompson. Yes I’ve mentioned him before in a weekend’s round up but after another head turning outing at Franklin’s Gardens he has to be part of this weekend’s round up.
Once again the back rower provided the go forward and impetus that Wasps craved but crucially was at the heart of a gutsy defensive effort. By all accounts Northampton Saints should have won that match and yet Wasps would not let them pass. His physicality was matched by those around him and alongside this the forward again showcased his deft hands and speed. I’ve no doubt that Eddie Jones will have taken note of the 29 year old’s performances over recent weeks and it’s my personal opinion that he could be a ‘bolter’ for the England head coach’s forthcoming EPS squad.
Elsewhere another back row forward impressed me, for a number of the same reasons, was Harlequins’ Chris Robshaw. Harlequins’ start to the season had be a challenging one, with undulating form, and yet on Saturday afternoon they showed up and put Saracens off their stride. Much of Chris Robshaw’s work goes unseen, he’s not a winger scoring tries for fun or a fly half accumulating the points with ease and yet he’s integral to his side’s output. Already this season the back rower has made 48 tackles and on Saturday combined that work rate with vital turnovers to relive pressure and allow Harlequins to exit without conceding points. The former England captain goes about his business quietly and unassumingly but I expect him to be one of the players of the forthcoming autumn series and Harlequins’ season.
Elsewhere the work of George North impressed me, despite Northampton Saints’ high error count, the Welsh international did have one of his best outings in a Saints shirt for a long time. The winger was hungry for the ball, he came off his wing and caused Wasps issues all over the park. It was great to see and I hope that this season Northampton really use him to full effect because if they do he’ll tear teams apart. Also keep an eye out for two new faces on the Premiership scene in Worcester Warriors’ back line. Perry Humphreys and Jamie Shillock are 21 and 19 years old respectively and both are grasping their early season chances with two hands. Donnacha O’Callaghan has said that he’s enjoying their youthful enthusiasm around the club and on the field Worcester are benefiting from their pace and creativity. With Chris Pennell and Bryce Heem out the two young players’ performances are vital and gaining such early Premiership experience will benefit Worcester’s squad depth in the long run too.
Aviva Premiership Round 4 Results
Bristol Rugby 17 – 41 Exeter Chiefs
Northampton 15 – 20 Wasps
Worcester Warriors 34 – 34 Sale Sharks
Harlequins 17-10 Saracens
Gloucester Rugby 13 – 18 Newcastle Falcons
Leicester Tigers 34-14 Bath Rugby