"Vunipola's Replacement" - 5 England Hopefuls Who Impressed in Last Weekend's Premiership Matches - Ruck

“Vunipola’s Replacement” – 5 England Hopefuls Who Impressed in Last Weekend’s Premiership Matches

Another exciting round of Premiership Rugby action is in the books, and we’ve seen plenty of budding talents put their hands up for England contention. It was a weekend for the visitors in Round 5, as four of the travelling sides brought the winning points back home to their clubs.

Bath and Gloucester kicked off the weekend at Kingsholm, as Finn Russell’s visitors achieved the bragging rights in the West Country derby. Sale Sharks returned up to the North West with the winning spoils, after handing Bristol Bears a 27-13 defeat at Ashton Gate. Harlequins secured a narrow four-point away win over Leicester Tigers, before Saracens ran out one-way traffic for a landslide win up in Newcastle.

Sunday’s fixture saw Exeter’s winning form curtailed in their trip to Northampton Saints. The hosts at Franklins’ Gardens were the only home side to record a victory this weekend, as they ran out a 34-19 triumph over the Chiefs. The next stop in the international calendar is the 2024 Six Nations, with just over three months to go before England begin their campaign against Italy.

The Northampton Saints players huddle together after the Gallagher Premiership Rugby match between Northampton Saints and Exeter Chiefs at Franklins Gardens, Northampton on 12 November 2023. – PHOTO: Patrick Khachfe/PPAUK

These five England hopefuls all impressed in last weekend’s Premiership matches, and will be pushing to impress Steve Borthwick with more of the same into.the New Year. Here are five England hopefuls who impressed in Round 5 of the Gallagher Premiership.

1. Tommy Freeman (Northampton Saints)

Northampton Saints player Tommy Freeman attacks Sale Sharks player Sam Bedlow during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby Match between Sale Sharks and Northampton Saints at the AJ Bell Stadium on 15th October. Photo: Steve Bond/PPAUK

Northampton Saints’ versatile back Tommy Freeman had an impressive outing in his side’s win over Exeter Chiefs. Freeman has had a fiery start to the 2023/24 season, and entered the match with seven tries across the Premiership Rugby Cup and his league campaign. Freeman added his eighth try in all competitions in the match’s early goings, as he was quickest to react to Fin Smith’s well weighted grubber kick through the Chiefs defence.

Freeman gathered the bouncing ball well, and muscled his way through the tackle attempt of Tom Cairns to score after just two minutes. The 22-year-old had a flying performance along the right wing, as Northampton established a healthy 17-point unanswered first-half lead. Freeman’s second half showing was equally as impressive, as he contributed a try-assist for Alex Mitchell’s score.

Northampton Saints player Tommy Freeman goes over for the opening try during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby Match between Sale Sharks and Northampton Saints at the AJ Bell Stadium on 15th October. Photo: Steve Bond/PPAUK

Coming against the run of play, Freeman supported Sam Matavesi’s carry, and executed a nice two-on-one for the England halfback to score. Freeman was last seen in an England jersey in the 2022 Autumn Internationals defeat to South Africa, and could well be on his way back into the fray. The international retirement to Jonny May has opened up a vacancy along the wing, and England fans would be more than happy to see Freeman slot in for the 2024 Six Nations.


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