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Premiership Rugby Cup Individual Player Watch: Reinach and Grayson star for Saints

Premiership Rugby Cup Individual Player Watch: Reinach and Grayson star for Saints

Round Four of the Premiership Rugby Cup got under way with the first of two Derby Day weekends as six sides battled it out for a place in the last four.

Northampton Saints ran in seven tries to secure their semi-final berth with a comfortable 47-20 bonus-point victory over Leicester Tigers at Franklin’s Gardens.

They will be joined in the last four by reigning Gallagher Premiership champions Saracens, who dispatched the 14 men of Harlequins with a 32-12 triumph at The Stoop.

Exeter Chiefs also moved within touching distance of securing their semi-final spot after defeating Bristol Bears 12-10 in a rain-soaked West Country derby battle at Ashton Gate.

And ahead of the second batch of Derby Day clashes, here’s a round-up of the standout individual displays and key moments from the weekend’s thrilling action.

Player of the Week

A number of Northampton Saints players could have been considered for player of the week after they delivered a scintillating attacking display to beat Leicester Tigers.

But Gallagher Premiership Rugby player of the month for December Cobus Reinach takes the plaudits once again after continuing his run of form with a second-half double.

The 28-year-old South African made the difference late on just when Leicester were beginning to fightback against their East Midlands rivals, closing the gap to 26-20.

He made the game safe for the hosts with his first try four minutes before the end, before producing another of his trademark breaks to blaze over the line from 60m out.

Replacement of the Week

The Premiership Rugby Cup is about the stars of the future and that was certainly the case at Franklin’s Gardens where three young Leicester players made their senior debuts.

Academy prospects Taylor Gough, Jonny Law and Freddie Steward all came off the bench to get their first taste of senior rugby in the 47-20 defeat to Northampton Saints.

While the result was not what they would have wanted, they showed plenty of endeavour and the experience will serve them well as they continue their development.

Skill of the Week

Bristol Bears have become renowned for their quick hands this season and Pat Lam’s men were at it again against Exeter Chiefs for their try at the start of the second half.

After winning a scrum in Exeter’s half, Bristol’s Harry Randall spread the ball wide to Ireland international Ian Madigan and the fly-half ran at the visitors’ defence.

He then produced a moment of magic, delaying a brilliant offload on his inside to the onrushing Ryan Edwards who stormed through the gap in the Exeter line to dot down.

Young Player of the Week

James Grayson has been key to Northampton Saints’ progress in the Premiership Rugby Cup this season, orchestrating the attack from fly-half with a maturity beyond his years.

The 20-year-old racked up 19 points in their opening victory against Bristol Bears, before kicking the crucial conversion to secure a dramatic 15-14 triumph against Wasps in Round Two.

And Grayson, who was named as breakthrough back after the first round of game, was at it again against Leicester as he piled on another 17 points to seal Saints’ final four spot.

World Cup Watch

All eyes were on Chris Robshaw at Tthe Stoop as the Harlequins back-rower made his return from injury in their defeat against Saracens.

Robshaw played a full 80 minutes in his first game for three months after recovering from a knee injury as he looks to prove his fitness ahead of the Six Nations.

Although his comeback is too late for him to be considered for England’s trip to Dublin, he could still force his way into Eddie Jones’ thinking later in the tournament ahead of this year’s World Cup.

Powerplay of the Week

Exeter Chiefs looked to be on their way to their first defeat in the Premiership Rugby Cup but for a second time this season, their power forced a winning penalty try at Ashton Gate.

The forwards outmuscled Bristol in the scrum, putting the hosts on the back foot, and Luke Pearce went under the posts to signal the score for the visitors in the 68th minute.

It gave Chiefs a two-point lead and the visitors managed to hold on to their advantage in the final ten minutes to move one step closer to securing their semi-final berth.

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