After eight exciting rounds of Premiership action, the English top flight will now take a fortnight’s break as the clubs embark on their Champions and Challenge Cup ventures. This eighth weekend of action closes out the opening block, with Sale Sharks remaining at the top of the table by the skin of their teeth.
Sale travelled down to London for their Friday Night clash with Harlequins, and were emphatically beaten by the hosts. Quins’ talisman Marcus Smith stole the show, and staked his claim for a return to the England 10 jersey in Owen Farrell’s absence, as he led his side to a 36-3 win at the Twickenham Stoop. Sale remain at the top of the table, with Bath in hot pursuit after their impressive win against Exeter Chiefs.
Bath ran out blockbuster showing in this West Country match-up, and curtailed the Chiefs recent run of form. The men in black, white and blue racked up a strong 41-24 score-line against their Devonshire visitors, with Chiefs centre Henry Slade narrowly missing out on this Top 5 despite a strong showing at the Recreation Ground. This was followed by another West Country battle, as Bristol Bears and Gloucester lit up a bitingly cold Saturday afternoon with a 77-point classic.
Bristol tore the house down at Ashton Gate, as they tallied up a 51-26 win over their Cherry and White neighbours. Bristol winger Max Malins got this high-scoring match-up underway, and is too an honourable mention for the top five England contenders who impressed across the weekend. The action then headed back down to London, as Northampton Saints secured a historic win over Saracens at the Stone X. Sarries were without their captain Farrell, and talented young Saints fly-half Fin Smith kept the score-board ticking over, for a 12-18 away win.
Sunday’s match featured a one-sided contest at Welford Road, as Leicester Tigers handed Newcastle Falcons a 47-3 hammering. The one-way traffic was a real statement of intent from the Tigers, as they continue to climb up the rungs of the Premiership. So, with round eight of the Premiership in the books ahead of two weeks of Champions Cup and Challenge Cup competition, here are the Top 5 England hopefuls who impressed over the weekend.
1. Will Joseph – Harlequins
Will Joseph begins this list of impressive England hopefuls, as the former London Irish man has settled in nicely to his new home at Harlequins. The former West London rival to Harlequins fans, the Twickenham Stoop faithful have since been singing Jospeh’s name, with another inspired showing in their Friday night win against Sale Sharks. Joseph grabbed two tries against Sale, and threw his hat into the ring for future England contention.
The 21-year-old has two England caps to his name, and is pushing for a his first appearence since the 2022 Summer tour of Australia. Joseph scored back-to-back tries to close out the evening at the Stoop, with his first score seeing him combine with Harlequins’ flying back-three talents. After Cadan Murley made a break along the left touchline, the wing found the supporting line of Tyrone Green, who then shipped the pass on to Joseph for an unopposed yet impressive finish.
Joseph’s second try came in the closing 10 minutes, after Harlequins had exhausted Sale’s defensive resilency with a series of short pick and drives. Quins looked out wide, with the replacement halfback duo of Will Porter and Jarrod Evans linking up, to send the ball out to Joseph on the left wing. The outside centre still had plenty of work today, and bounced over titanic lock Jonny Hill, before he muscled his way through Tom Roebuck’s tackle attempt to score.