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."
Speaking to the local media this week, back row flanker Jacob Rowan said that he is excited for the challenge at the Ricoh Arena this Sunday, and added that the players know the responsibility is theirs to deliver against the league leaders.
Ben Morgan was on media duty this week, and as Gloucester prepare for Sunday's trip to Wasps, the number eight is looking forward to see Gloucester go toe-to-toe with another of the Aviva Premiership's front runners.
Tom Marshall scored his first Gloucester try in the 31-23 win over Saracens on Friday evening and was named Man of the Match. Talking to GRTV, he praised the forwards for setting the tone on the night.
Matt Scott was on media duty this week, and the Scottish international spoke about the benefit of having a full week of training with his club mates and the determination to get back to performing well against Saracens this Friday evening.
After the disappointment of last weekend's performance at Leicester, Director of Rugby David Humphreys told GRTV that he expects a big response from Gloucester in Friday's Aviva Premiership fixture at home to Saracens (kick off 7:45pm).
Gloucester battled bravely against Wasps on Sunday, but it was a case of taking chances at the Ricoh Arena. Gloucester didn't make the most of theirs while Wasps did, and that proved to be the difference.
Gloucester were competitive for long periods at the Ricoh Arena on Sunday afternoon, but were left to rue a host of missed scoring opportunities throughout as Wasps hit back to earn a 35-22 Aviva Premiership win.
Gloucester's Ciaran Knight made his first start at tighthead prop, Henry Walker made his first appearance as a second half replacement and Alex Seville also featured as England U20s might it three from three in the U20s Six Nations with a 46-0 win over Italy in Darlington on Friday night.