Two young England hopefuls gave Eddie Jones a timely reminder of their qualities on Sunday at the Stoop as Harlequins ground out a dramatic win over Gloucester.
Man of the match Alex Dombrandt returned from injury to score the pivotal second-half try while Ollie Thorley grabbed a double for the Cherry & Whites.
Dombrandt crossed for a double for England last summer in an uncapped international against the Barbarians and was one of the last cuts from their World Cup training squad.
He will hope therefore to be in contention when the 2020 Guinness Six Nations rolls around, and the No.8 earned particular praise from Paul Gustard for his showing in an injury-hit Quins side.
“Having lost (Joe) Marchant and (Nathan) Earle to long-term injury, (Dombrandt) was one of our top try scorers last season so it’s critical that he keeps that form going,” he said.
“I just want him to enjoy his rugby and in reality, he is 18 months into his career, we don’t want to over coach him, we need to improve aspects of his game but we want him to express himself.
“He is coming out of his shell more and more, at heart he is a Harlequins fan, he was brought up around the corner, good personality but a level-headed kid.
“It hasn’t gone to his head; he’s trained hard and big player for us because he gets points, he gets line breaks, he gets momentum and I thought the back row in general were excellent.”
Thorley also missed out on selection for England in Japan, but looked razor sharp at the Stoop with a first-half brace.
His first was all about his pace, picking and going through the middle at a ruck to coast under the posts.
His second was more about power, ducking over in the right corner after being fed by a sumptuous Danny Cipriani pass.
England are not short of back three talent, but the case for Thorley’s inclusion gets louder by the minute.