Flats selects his XV from Round Nine of Gallagher Premiership Rugby
With the autumn Tests drawing to a close last weekend, Gallagher Premiership Rugby ranks were bolstered by the return of a plethora of international stars, making life hard for David Flatman as he picks his best XV from a dramatic weekend of rugby.
Unsurprisingly it’s Harlequins and Bristol Bears who dominate Flats’ team after both sides picked up statement wins against Exeter Chiefs and Leicester Tigers, respectively.
The Londoners dominate the pack, with Joe Marler, Alex Dombrandt and James Chisholm all outstanding as they dealt the Chiefs their first defeat of the Premiership season at The Stoop on Friday night.
Chisholm grabbed the hosts’ first try, while Francis Saili and Joe Marchant also impressed as a centre pairing sufficiently to earn berths in Flats’ XV.
Two tries for Harry Thacker were enough for the hooker to make the grade as he set the Bears well on their way to an impressive bonus-point win over Leicester.
But it was Pat Lam’s backs that truly had Flats purring, with Harry Randall, Ian Madigan, Luke Morahan and Charles Piutau rewarded for their ruthless display of attacking rugby.
Madigan struck 21-points with the boot, while Morahan made 146m on nine carries with Piutau just behind after clocking 103m.
As Saracens hit the front with their ninth win from nine in the league, Flats was particularly impressed with their forwards as the reigning champions downed Wasps 29-6.
It was Jamie George who grabbed the hosts’ first try, but the man to his right – Vincent Koch – whose nine tackles sealed a place in the XV.
A typically all-action performance from Maro Itoje means that he follows his teammate into the line-up thanks to 12 tackles, 11 carries and 48m gained.
Rounding off the pack are Bath Rugby’s Elliot Stooke, who starred in an attritional 7-7 draw with Sale Sharks at The Rec, and scorer of Newcastle Falcons’ dramatic late winner against Northampton Saints, Mark Wilson.
Ollie Thorley completes the XV as the scorer of two second-half tries to help Gloucester Rugby fend off the plucky challenge of Worcester Warriors.
Here is Flats’ XV for this week:
15. Charles Piatau (Bristol Bears)
14. Taqele Naiyaravoro (Northampton Saints)
13. Nick Tompkins (Saracens)
12. Fraser Dingwall (Northampton Saints)
11. Ollie Thorley (Gloucester)
10. Danny Cipriani (Gloucester)
9. Ben Spencer (Saracens)
1. Yann Thomas (Bristol Bears)
2. Jack Yeandle (Exeter Chiefs)
3. John Afoa (Bristol Bears)
4. Elliot Stooke (Bath)
5. Mitch Lees (Exeter Chiefs)
6. Nick Haining (Bristol Bears)
7. Lewis Ludlam (Northampton Saints)
8. Tom Lawday (Exeter Chiefs)