4. Tom Parton – Saracens
One of the stand-out talents of a star-studded derby, Tom Parton had an impressive run-out against Harlequins to take the capital city’s bragging rights back up to North London. Predominantly a fullback, Parton’s presented good versatility to move out to the left wing as Elliot Daly was injured in the pre-match warm-up. Despite this late change to the script, Parton did not forget any of his lines. He lit up the Twickenham Stoop with some exciting runs along the left touchline, and crossed over the Quins try-line to score with the match all but won.
Coming on the hour mark, the plaudits went to Alex Goode for the assist, as the fullback juggled the ball and fizzed a pass out wide to find Parton. The 25-year-old had bounds of space to cruise into, and dived to score, despite the last-ditch efforts of Marcus Smith to make a covering tackle. A new arrival at the Stone X Stadium, Parton has long been begrudgingly known by Harlequins fans, due to his tenure as London Irish’s first choice fullback.
Parton was promptly snapped up by Saracens following the financial collapse of the Exiles, and he has previously enjoyed seasonal spells at London Scottish in the Championship. His well-rounded game was presented against Quins, as he was confident under the high ball and made his first up tackles on the Harlequins danger-men. Parton is in an idyllic position to push on for a spot in Borthwick’s wider-training squad, and could well get a call-up for the Six Nations.
5. Henry Slade – Exeter Chiefs
Rounding off our picks for round six is Henry Slade, who looks like a back-able bet for a re-calling to the England squad. Slade has taken his Rugby World Cup exclusion in his stride, and in the off-season must have worked tirelessly to improve his game ahead of the new season. The 30-year-old has also taken over the kicking duties at Sandy Park, following Joe Simmonds’ exit to Pau back at the end of last season. Slade struck the match-winning penalty to seal a late victory against Gloucester, with Exeter returning to winning form.
Called into Borthwick’s wider training squad for the trip to France, Slade was a suprising cut following the opening Summer Nations Series defeat to Wales. Borthwick is currently lacking a specialist outside centre, with Joe Marchant’s departure to Stade Francais writing him out of any future England involvements. The Chiefs man is a front-runner for the vacancy, and could well re-unite with Manu Tuilagi and Ollie Lawrence, to jostle amongst the midfield pecking order.
Slade was a class act against Gloucester, and shone brightest in his try-assist for Daffyd Jenkins. Making a smart move inside to split the Cherry and White defence, Slade broke away from the visitors, before playing in his captain to score a simple two-on-one finish. The centre kept his nerve to nail the final kick of the game, and sealed the Devonshire club a memorable derby day win with the clock in the red.