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Frustration over Radradra and Tuilagi being starved of the ball for their new clubs

By Online Editors
(Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

The first round of the Premiership re-start brought excitement and anticipation around the arrival of two superstars at their new clubs, as Semi Radradra and Manu Tuilagi donned their new colours for the first time.

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Fans were widely anticipating the Bristol Bears and Premiership debut of Fijian powerhouse Radradra, who arrived at the club from Bordeaux, after his sublime showing at the Rugby World Cup in 2019.

England centre Tuilagi completed a high-profile transfer from Leicester Tigers to Sale over the break, bringing one of the world’s most dominant ball carriers to an already power-packed roster.

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Drew Mitchell on the time he gave Jonny Wilkinson a wedgie.
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Drew Mitchell on the time he gave Jonny Wilkinson a wedgie.

The salivating prospect of both stars drew fans into what turned out to be rather dour clashes as Harlequins downed Sale on Friday night, while Bristol scrapped a hard fought win over Saracens.

Both Tuilagi and Radradra were limited in their involvement with the ball, with fans frustrated at the lack of impetus to use two of the world’s best attacking runners.

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Radradra finished with only two runs for six run metres with an unlikely stat line of zero line breaks and zero defenders beaten.

Tuilagi didn’t fare much better with six runs for 19 metres, with no defenders beaten or line breaks.

Wet conditions offered no favours for either outside centre, as errors, penalties and kicking chewed up most of the clock in both matches.

Pundits weren’t overly impressed with Tualagi’s first showing, with English scribe Stuart Barnes rating him an “anonymous one”.

“Tuilagi was the most touted of the summer signings yet on Friday night his rugby terror rating on a scale of one to ten against Harlequins wasn’t much more than an anonymous one,” he wrote for The Times.

Sir Ian McGeechan of The Telegraph also surmised that Sale did not use their new weapon enough, saying it “was not the debut we were expecting”.

Sale Sharks director of rugby Steve Diamond was up front about the performance of his side, saying they wanted to see some entertaining rugby, but didn’t.

“My team usually gives away seven or eight penalties, so to give away 19 was disappointing. We were shooting blanks. We want to see some entertaining rugby, we certainly didn’t.”

Sale’s loss and Bristol’s win saw the two sides trade spots on the Premiership ladder, with Sale dropping to third and the Bears taking second.

Exeter’s win over Leicester at Sandy Park held their lead in pole position.

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