Hopefully it was a taste of what is to come, but the opening round of the Gallagher Premiership gave us some great fixtures and some superb fantasy performances.
Bristol announced their return to the top flight with a 17-10 victory against a misfiring Bath side at a sold out Ashton Gate, with Luke Morahan (41) earning top fantasy points. Chris Vui (31) and Ed Holmes (31) also played well for Bristol, and for Bath, Dave Attwood (33) and Zach Mercer (28) stood out.
Gloucester opened their campaign with a victory at Kingsholm over Northampton, with the final score 27 points to 16. Top fantasy points scorers for Gloucester were Val Rapava Ruskin (44) and Billy Twelvetrees (32), and for Northampton, Courtney Lawes (37) and Cobus Reinach (30). Our projection algorithm predicted a win for Gloucester by 33-16, so not far out!
Moving to The Stoop, we were predicting a tight game with Sale perhaps coming through as the eventual winners, and so it came as something of a surprise to see Harlequins record a fantastic haul; the match finished 51-23, with Ben Tapuai (43) and Marcus Smith (38) their key men. Sale's top performers were AJ MacGinty (42) and Marland Yarde (36).
Another fixture in which our algorithm had projected a tight game was Worcester against Wasps. As it happened, it couldn't predict it either way and had the final score down as 22-22, so it was incredible to see that Wasps had nudged the game by a single point in the end, winning 21-20. Key players in this fixture were Will Stuart (58), Dan Robson (43) and Joe Launchbury (43), with Sam Lewis the stand out player for Worcester (39).
Rounding out Saturday's fixtures was Exeter's game against Leicester. Exeter ran rampant, and perhaps the most telling statistic from the fixture was the lack of Leicester players in the top 10 for fantasy points within the fixture; George Ford managing 29 points, with Santiago Cordero (30), Henry Slade (32), Matt Kvesic (37), Sam Skinner (46) and Sam Simmonds (54) above him.
The final fixture of the weekend proved to be an exciting matchup, and perhaps showed that last season was not a fluke for Newcastle, who lost at home to Saracens by 21 points to 32. Jamie Goerge and Mark Wilson shared the spoils as top fantasy players in this game with 49 points apiece; Maro Itoje (40), and Owen Farrell (35) following.
With a big score of 58 points, Will Stuart is the key fantasy player from the weekend, though he still falls some way short of our top fantasy performance to date which saw Ellis Genge score 115 points in Leicester's fixture against Northampton last season.
Despite Harlequins big score against Sale, it is Exeter Chiefs who take top spot with their overall fantasy points this weekend; 502 stands a long way from second placed Quins who registered 411.
Key Value Player
Will Stuart smashes this category too, but following closely behind are Sam Skinner, Val Rapava Ruskin and Luke Morahan whose values remain under £200k.
Top Value Risers
Now that we are underway, players' values are going to start changing, and you can find out more about this in our player value article.
The biggest price risers for this round are, perhaps not surprisingly, Don Armand (+4%), Sam Simmonds (+3.6%) and Greg Bateman (+3.2%).