When Sale Sharks win it’s a safe bet Dan Braid has made a substantial impact, but it wasn’t just the captain’s influence behind a rare win over Harlequins on Friday night.
The flanker dots down every two-and-a-half games for Sale and his 68th-minute try at the Stoop was as crucial as any as the Sharks ended a run of seven straight defeats against Quins.
According to Opta’s Aviva Premiership Rugby statistics, the visitors also beat more than twice as many defenders compared to Conor O’Shea’s men – 17 to 8 – with Sam Tuitupou beating four on his own, while Braid and Jonathan Mills forced three turnovers each.
Gloucester Rugby did not have the happiest of trips up to Newcastle Falcons but new boy Steve McColl certainly left the North East with credit.
In his first Aviva Premiership Rugby start the full-back evaded a defender nine times, while prop John Afoa’s blink and you’ll miss it try after 24 seconds was the league’s quickest since September 2011.
However, Sinoti Sinoti continued his fine form by grabbing his fourth try in seven games to send Gloucester back to Kingsholm with nothing.
Tom Savage and Tom Palmer also posted fine performances in a losing effort with 23 and 21 tackles respectively, while Dom Barrow and Ali Hogg racked up 19 each for the Falcons.
There are few more effective weapons in Aviva Premiership Rugby than ‘the Tank’ this season as Thomas
Waldrom scored back-to-back tries for the second time in the competition this season to help Exeter Chiefs overcome Wasps.
The back-row was promptly rewarded with an England call-up and his teammate for both club and country, Jack Nowell, also impressed by beating his man seven times on his way to a try-double.
With George Ford on England duty Gavin Henson is ensuring Bath Rugby are continuing to motor, making a weekend-best 78 metres with ball in hand in victory at London Irish.
Despite a team containing Kyle Eastmond, Jonathan Joseph and Semesa Rokoduguni surprisingly there was no try from Bath’s starting back-line for the first time this season – though prop Henry Thomas got it done with two breaks and a super score of his own.
In a repeat of last May’s Aviva Premiership Rugby final, Northampton Saints got the better of Saracens yet again to continue their stranglehold over the London club.
Saints have now won four of their last five encounters with Mark McCall’s men – having lost eight from nine games before that run.
However Chris Wyles remains a man in form for Sarries, his double making it four tries in four games after a previous streak of just four in 47, while Saints back James Wilson ended a 14-match blank in the league with his brace.
And Leicester Tigers’ domination over London Welsh started at the set-piece as Graham Kitchener won a weekend-leading nine line-outs at the Kassam.
In a fine all-round performance the lock also stole the ball twice though Harry Thacker – in his second league start – made the headlines with a well-taken double.
Selected round eight statistics from Opta
Tom Savage (Gloucester Rugby) 23
Tom Palmer (Gloucester Rugby) 21
Dom Barrow, Ali Hogg (Newcastle Falcons) 19
Graham Kitchener (Leicester Tigers) 9
Damian Welch (Exeter Chiefs) 7
James Down (London Welsh) 7
Gavin Henson (Bath Rugby) 78
Billy Vunipola (Saracens) 77
Adam Thompstone (Leicester Tigers) 77
Rob Miller (Wasps) 73
Steve McColl (Gloucester Rugby) 9
Jack Nowell (Exeter Chiefs) 7
Harry Thacker (Leicester Tigers) 6
Matt Kvesic (Gloucester Rugby) 17
Nick Easter (Harlequins) 17
Billy Vunipola (Saracens 15)
Nathan Hughes (Wasps) 4
Steve McColl (Gloucester Rugby) 3
Shane Geraghty (London Irish) 3
Nick Easter (Harlequins) 3
Billy Vunipola (Saracens) 3
Season leaders so far
Thomas Waldrom (Exeter Chiefs) 7
Jonathan Joseph (Bath Rugby) & Christian Wade (Wasps) 6
Top points scorers
Gareth Steenson (Exeter Chiefs) 104
Charlie Hodgson (Saracens) 95
Shane Geraghty (London Irish) 88