"Two Bath Stars" - 5 England Hopefuls Who Impressed in Round Eight of the Premiership - Page 3 of 3 - Ruck

“Two Bath Stars” – 5 England Hopefuls Who Impressed in Round Eight of the Premiership

4. Fraser Dingwall – Northampton Saints

Fraser Dingwall of Northampton Saints celebrates after winning during the Gallagher Premiership Match between Exeter Chiefs and Northampton Saints at Sandy Park on 25 September 2021. Photo: Tom Sandberg/PPAUK

The narrative heading into this match focussed around Fin Smith, as the promising Northampton Saints fly half looked to state his claim for Owen Farrell’s England vacancy. However, as the match progressed against a Farrell-less Saracens, Fin Smith’s performance was overshadowed by a stunning run out from Saints’ centre Fraser Dingwall. The 24-year-old was relentless in defence, making hit after hit on the international talents amongst the Saracens arsenal.

Dingwall rose to the occasion and stopped what seemed to be a certain Saracens try, and also created one for Northampton with an excellent piece of footballing skill. Dingwall went to the boot in the Sarries 22m, and sent a neat cross field kick directly to Ollie Sleightholme, who was waiting on the right touch-line. Slightholme strolled over to score one of the easier tries of his career, with the plaudits firmly with Dingwall for the assist.

Fraser Dingwall of Northampton Saints during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby Semi Final Match between Saracens and Northampton Saints at Stonex Stadium on 13 May 2023. Photo: Frankie OKeeffe/PPAUK

Dingwall’s had hitting defensive work-rate, and free-flowing creativity in attack has put the England midfield on notice. Henry Slade looked set-up for a return to the England squad, and seemed primed to slot straight into the vacated 13 jersey left by Joe Marchant. However, Dingwall’s performance in the win over Saracens has amped up the competition, for the places amongst Steve Borthwick’s centres in the 2024 Six Nations.

5. Alfie Barbeary – Bath Rugby

Alfie Barbeary of Bath Rugby is tackled by Josh Caulfield of Bristol Bears during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby Match between Bath Rugby and Bristol Bears at the Recreation Ground on 17 November 2023. Photo: Tom Sandberg/PPAUK

Alfie Barbeary rounds off our picks this week, and is the second Bath player in our Top 5 of impressive England hopefuls. Barbeary looks close to the complete package at number eight, offering a relentless go-forward in attack, and a physically imposing presence in defence. His set-piece has certainly progressed since joining Bath, following the financial collapse of Worcester Warriors back in October of last year.

Barbeary showcased his formidable forward drive in the early goings, after an initial rolling maul was halted by Exeter. Barbeary spun off the stalemated maul, and drove over alone for the opening score after just six minutes. The 23-year-old had not scored in the Premiership since the opening day victory against Newcastle Falcons, but added two against the Chiefs, with Bath finding top gear at the Rec. Barbeary showed great awareness for his second try, as he spotted a gap in the line and picked through from the back of a ruck.

Alfie Barbeary of Bath Rugby during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby Match between Bath Rugby and Newcastle Falcons at the Recreation Ground on 14 October 2023. Photo: Tom Sandberg/PPAUK

Barbeary charged away downfield, and with a rapid motor for a man of his build, begun celebrating before he’d even grounded the ball. The back-row capped off the score with a nice dive over the line, before he was mobbed by his Bath teammates. Ben Spencer certainly had an influence in this try, with his NFL quarter-back like faking possession at the ruck, which diverted the attention away from Barbeary, who capitalised for the try.