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Individual Player Watch: Thacker, Dombrandt and Reinach shine in round nine

Individual Player Watch: Thacker, Dombrandt and Reinach shine in round nine

Saracens are clear at the top of the Gallagher Premiership Rugby standings after clinching their ninth win in a row to kick off the new campaign and the defence of their crown.

In addition to their victory over Wasps, Harlequins handed Exeter Chiefs their first loss of the season and Bristol Bears put Leicester Tigers to the sword.

Mark Wilson went over for a last-gasp score for Newcastle Falcons to down Northampton Saints, Gloucester Rugby put Worcester Warriors to the sword and Sale Sharks and Bath Rugby played out a low-scoring draw on Sunday.

Player of the week

Harry Thacker is becoming a firm fans’ favourite at Ashton Gate.

The hooker has now scored six tries already this season and he showed all of his pace and power to bag a double against his former employers Leicester Tigers on Saturday.

The Bears are chasing a top-six spot in a tightly-contested middle of the table and Thacker’s form has been a key feature for Pat Lam’s side this season so far.

Replacement of the week

Marcus Smith climbed off the bench and produced a couple of magnificent touches for Quins.

His delicate kick through set up Joe Marchant for what proved to be the match-winning score as Exeter Chiefs fell to their first loss of the domestic season.

Skill of the week

Cooper Vuna produced a magnificent break and kick through to set up Joe Cokanasiga for the score on Sunday at the Rec.

But the skill of the week goes to Northampton Saints scrum-half Cobus Reinach whose remarkable solo score lit up the first half at Franklin’s Gardens.

The No.9 bagged a double but was unfortunate to end up on the losing side after Wilson’s late try for Falcons.

Young player of the week

Alex Dombrandt is making a real impression in the back row for Quins.

His head coach Paul Gustard says the flanker – who only graduated from Cardiff Met earlier this year and then joined Quins – is one for the future.

“He’s fresh out of university, he’s still got a rig from university, but the kid can play rugby,” he said.

A special mention to Bristol Bears No.9 Harry Randall who was paired with Ian Madigan for the first time and produced a stunning showing – including a delightful try – as they downed Leicester Tigers.

World Cup watch

Dombrandt put down a marker this weekend but Eddie Jones is unlikely to be calling on him any time soon.

His back-row options are looking stronger by the second and, after his man of the series showing for England in the autumn, Mark Wilson was at it again with a last-gasp match-winner for Newcastle.

That spoiled Dylan Hartley’s 250th appearance for Northampton Saints while his fellow England hooker Jamie George crossed for a try in Sarries’ win over Wasps.

Elsewhere Nathan Earle put his hand up in England’s crowded battle for wing positions with a double against the Chiefs.

Powerplay of the week

He may have ended up on the losing side, but the return of Manu Tuilagi to form and fitness is a sight for sore eyes.

And the England and British & Irish Lions centre crossed for a fine try in the first half against Bristol Bears, breaking tackles and swerving over the line like the Tuilagi of old.

Funniest moment

You have to spare a though for Elliot Daly whose speculative late pass deep in his own 22 was gratefully scooped up by Nick Isiekwe for the easiest try of his Saracens career so far.

But the prize for the most amusing moment of the weekend comes courtesy of Kyle Sinckler who produced a rib-rattling tackle on Joe Simmonds on Friday night, prompting BT Sport pundit Ugo Monye to say: ‘He’s folded him up like a warm tortilla’.

 

 

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