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Gallagher Premiership Rugby individual player watch: George Ford, Billy Vunipola and Gabriel Ibitoye

Gallagher Premiership Rugby individual player watch: George Ford, Billy Vunipola and Gabriel Ibitoye

Round 12 of Gallagher Premiership Rugby is now in the books and what a weekend it was.

The league remains incredibly competitive and it began with a bang as Sale Sharks downed Saracens on Friday night.

On Saturday Mike Brown broke Harlequins’ all-time appearance record as they moved up to third by downing Newcastle Falcons while Jonny May bagged a double against his former club as Leicester Tigers downed Gloucester Rugby.

Exeter Chiefs remain top of the pile after a hard-fought win over Bristol Bears while Worcester Warriors claimed a dramatic win deep into added time against Bath Rugby at Sixways.

And on Sunday Wasps climbed back into the top six with victory over Northampton Saints at the Ricoh Arena – here are some of the key individual displays.

Player of the week

Leicester Tigers look to be turning the ship around at Welford Road of late but one man whose form has never dropped this season is George Ford.

The fly-half has been superb this season for Tigers and was at it again on Saturday to the tune of 19 points.

He scored a fine solo try but also played a role in scores for Jonah Holmes and May as the Tigers made it two home wins in a row for the first time this season.

Replacement of the week

Much of the focus on Sunday was on the returning Joe Launchbury who returned to captain Wasps and produced a fine outing.

But another England star also made his bow after injury in the second half, No.8 Nathan Hughes producing an impactful cameo in the win over Northampton.

The back-rower contributed a couple of key turnovers, helped Willie Le Roux over the line for the pivotal third try and also managed seven carries and four tackles.

Moment of the week

Worcester Warriors came storming back at Sixways on Saturday to claim a dramatic win.

And the final Bryce Heem score that sealed it could not have been any more exciting.

With Bath Rugby down to 11 men, Ross Batty saw red while Max Lahiff, Lucas Noguera and Aled Brew sent to the sin-bin, the Warriors battered at the line in the closing stages.

Scrum after scrum was reset while Bath shipped penalty after penalty and eventually the pressure told as Heem went over and Duncan Weir converted for a crucial 21-19 victory in the 99th minute.

Skill of the week

Sale’s victory over Saracens on Friday – only their second in the last eight years – owed much to their power up front.

But it was the fireworks in the backline that really caught the eye, particularly Denny Solomona’s superb score in the first half.

Solomona burst onto Sam James’ super inside ball and then showed a stunning sidestep to burst clear from halfway and score the try of the match that put the Sharks on the road to victory.

Young player of the week

In an effort to end their away-day woes, Paul Gustard made some changes this weekend for Quins’ trip to Kingston Park.

One of those was to include Gabriel Ibitoye on the wing and the youngster did not disappoint.

Although his work under the high ball still needs work, what the powerful speedster provides on the front foot with ball in hand is spell-binding.

His first-half score after a mesmeric Quins counter-attack was fantastic and he also produced a deft offload for Jack Clifford’s try just before the interval that secured the bonus point.

World Cup watch

Another young Quin catching the eye is Alex Dombrandt.

The flanker has been touted by some for international honours already and Eddie Jones will have to take note sooner rather than later.

A powerful ball carrier – he burst from the base of the scrum to score Quins’ fifth and final score on Saturday – he has also showed some deft handling of late.

A clever lineout move at Twickenham last weekend saw him go over for the fastest try of the season so far – he now has four in six games for Quins.

And he was at it again this weekend with another smart passing play at the front of the lineout to release Max Crumpton for their opening score in Newcastle.

Powerplay of the week

Billy Vunipola made his latest injury return on Friday for Saracens.

And it took less than ten minutes for the England No.8 to show what he is about.

The back-rower collected Alex Goode’s floated pass out on the left wing and still had plenty to do, but he showed power and finesse to barge and swivel his way over in the corner for a fine score.

Funniest moment

Much of the focus at Sixways will have been on the dramatic finish but earlier in the game Warriors skipper GJ van Velze proved his devotion to the cause.

The captain lost his shirt but refused to be stopped in the cold West Country winter – getting back into the defensive line and chasing down a kick while topless – much to the delight of the Sixways faithful.

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