Seven teams from the PRO14 and Aviva Premiership are represented, including Scarlets, Saracens and London Irish, following the opening weekend of domestic action.
15. Tommy Bell (London Irish)
London Irish announced their return to the Aviva Premiership with a bang as they secured an impressive 39-29 victory over Harlequins at Twickenham on Saturday, under pinned by the 24-point haul of their full-back Tommy Bell.
The boot of Bell got Irish’s tally up and running with two early penalties before cruising past Mike Brown to add a try to his tally on the half hour mark, making 77 metres from his 16 carries as he helped mastermind a winning start for the Exiles. A mention too for Grenoble’s 18-year-old full-back Gervais Cordin who scored a cracker in their Pro D2 win over Stade Montois.
14. Johnny McNicholl (Scarlets)
It was a man-of-the-match performance from Johnny McNicholl as Scarlets got their defence of their PRO14 title up and running with a victory over new boys the Kings.
The Scarlets continued their try-scoring exploits as the new season began with their winger leading the way courtesy of a double, including this spectacular finish for his first.
McNicholl topped his side’s metres made in the match with a whopping 209 more than anyone else on the field and was second on the carries charts behind team-mate Steff Evans.
13. Gaby Lovobalavu (Wasps)
Produced a marvellous offloading game that really gave Wasps an even greater attacking edge against Sale. The Fijian also brought some ballast in defence to Wasps – something they will really need to work on in the coming months.
12. Max Clark (Bath)
Much of the pre-match hype had been about Leicester’s midfield pairing of Manu Tuilagi and Matt Toomua starting together as they both returned from long-term injuries.
However, it was the unheralded 21-year-old Bath centre Max Clark who stole the show, scoring two tries in six first-half minutes to set Bath off and running towards their first win at Welford Road since 2003.
While his attacking threat was rewarded with two mentions on the scoresheet, his shift in defence kept Tuilagi largely at bay throughout, not allowing the Tigers danger man the space to cause the damage we have come to expect from the England centre.
11. Topsy Ojo (London Irish)
After round one there were plenty of tries scored in the Premiership but Ojo’s has to be an early contender for try of the season. He got onto the end of a beautifully weighted kick from fly-half James Marshall inside his own 22 and raced into space, swapping passes with Fergus Mulchrone before showing plenty of gas to go over for his 46th Premiership try.
10. Rhys Priestland (Bath)
An honourable mention to Ulster’s Christian Lealiifano who was excellent in their victory over the Cheetahs at the Kingspan, but Rhys Priestland was wonderful for Bath. He showed pure class for Clark’s first try and kicked his points to keep Bath ticking over.
9. Dan Robson (Wasps)
Robson crossed for four tries in the victory while he also set one up for team-mate Christian Wade.
Robson was taken off with half an hour remaining at the Ricoh Arena and his absence told with Sale going over for two quick-fire tries to bring them back to within touching distance before Wasps opened the gap once again late on.
He was his side’s top metres maker with 122 averaging just over 15 metres per carry.
1. Rob Evans (Scarlets)
A strong performance from Evans who helped lay a very strong platform for the Scarlets against the Kings. Carried very well, was solid in defence too.
2. Schalk Brits (Saracens)
The Saracens hooker tore the Northampton defence to shreds at Twickenham on Saturday afternoon. The 36-year-old, who was named man-of-the-match, played an instrumental role in three of his side’s seven first-half tries before crossing for one himself after the break.
Brits was his side’s joint top metres maker with 68 and was the north London club’s top carrier while also putting in a shift in defence, making 13 tackles. A 53-minute masterclass from the former Springbok international.
3. Vincent Koch (Saracens)
While most of the post-match accolades went to his front-row partner Schalk Brits, the performance of Vincent Koch also caught the eye.
A first-half try scorer as Saracens ran riot, he averaged 5.8 metres for every one of his nine carries, defeating two defenders, making two initial breaks and offering a try scoring pass – impressive stats for a man that plies his trade in the dark depths of the front row.
4. Luke Charteris (Bath)
A huge game from Charteris who helped Bath beat Leicester in the Premiership for the first time in 14 years. Charteris was huge in defence – making 14 tackles in all but it was when Bath went down to 13-men that Charteris came into his own. His line-out steal with Leicester camped on their line ended the Tigers attack and secured Bath a famous victory.
5. Jeremy Thrush (Gloucester)
A dominant force for Gloucester as he reigned supreme in the lineout and caused all sort of problems for reigning champions Exeter.
6. Jean Deysel (Ulster)
Ulster newcomer Jean Deysel already looks to have provided Ulster with the grunt up front they desperately needed and that is after just one game of the new season.
A heavyweight carrier for Ulster as they dismantled the Cheetahs 42-19, only Charles Piuatu contributed more in that department, the flanker making 66 metres from his 16 carries, once again a total only bettered by Piutau.
7. James Davies (Scarlets)
Blair Cowan just misses out to Scarlets back-row James Davies, who started the new season the way he finished the last.
He was a dominant force at the breakdown, ensuring the Scarlets enjoyed substantial ball, and quick ball at that, throughout.
But he is more than just a menace on the floor, providing three try scoring passes as the Welsh region tore the Kings to shreds late on in their encounter.
8. Taulupe Faletau (Bath)
Taulupe Faletau was a thorn in the side of Leicester Tigers in both attack and defence as Bath secured an opening day victory on the road.