Now that the dust has settled after Round Four of the Aviva Premiership and Guinness Pro 12, we select the players that stood out over the weekend.
Fullback: Jamie Shillcock (Worcester Warriors)
Shillcock ensured that Worcester did not miss their talisman fullback, Chris Pennell. The 19-year-old; whose preferred position is fly-half, scored two well-taken tries in a superb overall performance in what was in fact only his second Premiership experience. He played for England Under 20s last season and certainly has a big future at Sixways.
Tait finished smartly in the corner to hand Newcastle a shock win against Gloucester at Kingsholm. The winger also defended ferociously as Dean Richard’s men upset the odds. It’s perhaps too early to suggest this result will play a major part in the Falcons avoiding relegation but it certainly doesn’t hurt the cause.
Kiwi veteran Gopperth scored 15 points to lead Wasps to the top of the Aviva Premiership. The former Newcastle and Leinster pivot grabbed a converted try in a 20-15 win over the Northampton Saints on Saturday as he continued his exceptional form at inside centre despite it not being his typical position.
The Scarlets winger proved his class to lift early season gloom for the Welsh Region. Williams starred as he crossed in either half, showing his finishing prowess on both occasions to defeat the Pro12 champions Connacht 17-8 on Saturday.
Johnny Sexton marked his first game of the season with 16 points; made up a try, four conversions, and a single penalty, as Leinster won 31-19 impressively at the RDS to end Welsh region Ospreys’ unbeaten run in the Guinness PRO12.
The Ireland scrum-halves brace of tries helped Munster emerge as 28-14 bonus-point winners over Edinburgh at Thomond Park – and lift them up to fifth in the Pro12. Two close-range scores from Murray; who was fantastic throughout, had the hosts leading 14-7 at half-time before his game management kept the Irish province always control until the very end.
The Welsh internationals resolve and scrummaging was key to Cardiff retaining their unbeaten start to the season with a 23-21 win against Zebre. His relentless defence was key as the Welsh region dug deep to end their curse which had seen them lose five and draw one of their last 10 outings on Italian soil.
Merrick along with Horwill formed a concrete second-row partnership to deny and limit the impact of England stalwart Maro Itoje and experienced hand Jim Hamilton. The 23-year-old, former England Under 20 international showed a lot of promise since making his professional debut in 2013 but is now finally maturing into the dominant lock Quins desperately need him to be.
A late yellow card for the man of the match gave Quins a late scare but the hosts were in no mood to be denied a famous victory. The lock; who was able to get the better of Sarries at the set piece, was able to give his side a base to play off with his hard work at the breakdown and impeccable tackling.
The powerhouse back-rower touched down a brace as Exeter Chiefs recorded a 41-17 bonus-point victory over Bristol Rugby at Ashton Gate on Friday. Waldrom crossed for his first after a series of short-range pick and goes befoe getting his second try in a similar fashion to his first early in the second half. The fan favourite; who has finished top try-scorer in the Aviva Premiership two years running, will be hoping he’s now rediscovered his best try-scoring form.