The new season of the Gallagher Premiership has reached Round 3 and is starting to find its rhythm, settling into the groove like me after one Ribena too many. The usual suspects Exeter and Saracens top the table but Gloucester have made a strong start too, unbeaten after three rounds and playing some sublime rugby. At the southern end of the table, few will be surprised to see Worcester propping up the pile despite coming agonisingly close to beating Wasps in Round 1.
On the individual level, Round 3 threw up a few surprises, also like me after one Ribena too many. The bulk of this week’s XV of the week is made up of the unsung heroes one perhaps might overlook when picking a Fantasy League team. In fact, this may be the most value-for-money team we’re likely to have all season, with smaller names producing big points. Without further adieu, here’s the rundown of the Team of the Week*:
- Ben Franks (Northampton)
- Cameron Neild (Sale)
- Ross Harrison (Sale)
- Elliott Stooke (Bath)
- Ed Slater (Gloucester)
- Jake Polledri (Gloucester)
- Ruan Ackermann (Gloucester)
- Zach Mercer (Bath)
- Jack Maunder (Exeter)
- George Ford (Leicester)
- Joe Cokanasiga (Bath)
- Juan de Jongh (Wasps)
- Henry Slade (Exeter)
- Charlie Sharples (Gloucester
- Liam Williams (Saracens)
*Please note, player positions are determined by The Scout’s statistical analysis and thus may not be accurate
Northampton finally have a representative on the board, as Ben Franks claims the Number 1 jersey (despite starting on the bench, and coming on as a second half replacement for tighthead Ehren Painter). This was largely due to the try the former All Black scored in Saints’ disappointing yet encouraging loss to Saracens. Primarily renowned as a scrum specialist, players such as Franks are a reminder of the need to “get you a man who can do both”, as I believe the youth are saying nowadays.
On the opposite side of the field on Saturday, and at the other end of the team sheet, Liam Williams’ performance not only bagged him the starting fullback birth for our Team of the Week, but also created some daylight between himself and Worcester’s Chris Pennell in the battle for the position in the Team of the Tournament. Teammate Alex Lewington has to settle for a bench spot however, just 0.1 points behind Charlie Sharples on the wing, though remains the incumbent in the overall team.
Not the highest scoring week by any stretch, the battle for Player of the Week came down to England team mates George Ford and Joe Cokanasiga, the latter just edging things with a haul of 25.4 versus 24.3. Ford still rules the roost overall though, with a total score of 66.1 setting him up as the MVP of the Gallagher Premiership with three rounds gone.
By now, a few trends have started appearing, and you’ll want to use this newfound information to your advantage as you choose your transfers for the upcoming week. Locks rarely bring home the points to a great degree, though as the weather worsens and teams play a more tactical game you might want to invest in a lineout specialist to make the most of the position. On the other hand, wingers are consistently amongst the highest scoring, and with playing conditions still good (for Britain, that is), and with teams starting to settle into their new systems now is an ideal time to splash the virtual cash on a superstar or two in the back line. Northampton’s Taqele Naiyaravoro only made his debut this weekend, but considering he sat down big Billy Vunipola, he’d be as good a pick as any if you’re looking to take a punt.
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