Andy Hazell - leading the way in the tackle count this season
Bruce Seabrook/GPA Images
ANDY HAZELL is the top tackler in the Guinness Premiership after five rounds of matches, figures from OPTA show.
After five rounds, the Gloucester openside has made 60 tackles, a staggering 12 per game and a total of eight more than another England hopeful, Saracens' Dave Seymour.
The top five is completed by three more back row players, Northampton Saints' Darren Fox and London Wasps' Joe Worsley on 42 tackles and Sale Sharks' Magnus Lund on 40.
Back row players were obviously eager to impress with the autumn internationals on the horizon, as London Wasps' Tom Rees carried for 126 metres in their match against Newcastle Falcons, the most of any player in round five. Rees was however just one metre ahead of his team mate Tom Voyce.
Following the Wasps duo were two men of the moment in the centre. Saracens' Ben Johnston made 115 metres in their victory over Bath Rugby, whilst Mathew Tait made 103 metres in Newcastle Falcons' defeat at Adams Park. Worcester Warriors' Lee Best completed the top five, making 93 metres against Gloucester Rugby.
Premier Rugby Chief Executive Mark McCafferty said: "The Guinness Premiership is really starting to take shape and players are starting to hit their straps just in time for the Heineken Cup. Players are also using the intensity of the Guinness Premiership to show Andy Robinson that they are worthy of consideration for the autumn internationals. I hope their club form carries into the Heineken Cup and European Challenge Cup matches this weekend."
It's the first Gloucester-Bristol derby at Kingsholm in over eight years this Saturday (kick off 4:30pm) and, previewing the game with the local media this week, Defence Coach Jonny Bell stressed that, with both teams in the bottom half of the table, they both need the points.
Speaking to the local media this week, Gloucester front rower John Afoa knows the challenge ahead this week against Bristol, and calls on the Cherry and Whites to make the most of home advantage as a determined squad look to bounce back from a narrow loss to Saracens.
Tom Savage speaks to GRTV and the local media as Gloucester went down by 24-20 at Saracens on Sunday afternoon. The second row was disappointed with the result, despite a strong showing from the hosts.
Speaking immediately after the game, skipper Willi Heinz thought that Gloucester had executed their game plan reasonably well and competed hard against Saracens. However, it wasn't enough but the squad will have plenty to work on this week ahead of the derby match against Bristol.
Gloucester may be coming off their best win of the season, the 38-16 victory over Wasps last weekend, but Director of Rugby David Humphreys admits that Sunday's trip to Saracens is an even tougher test.
After a series of contract announcements last week, hooker Richard Hibbard is the latest Gloucester Rugby player to commit to a new contract at the club and told GRTV how much he enjoys playing in the Cherry and White of Gloucester.
Talk about a game of two halves. Things looked grim on Saturday as Gloucester trailed 0-6 to Bristol at half-time. However, Matt Scott's eighth try of the season got Gloucester off and running, and the visitors fell apart as the Cherry and Whites eased to a 26-18 bonus point Aviva Premiership win.