Aviva Premiership Review: Rd 10

A Full House

I suppose the law of averages said it had to happen at some point – I managed to get all 6 predictions right in my preview of last weekend’s Aviva Premiership games.

Having said that several of the games were very different from what I had expected – with some much closer affairs than I predicted and one I thought could go either way ending up being a demolition.

Most of the matches were played in dreadful conditions starting on Friday night when London Irish travelled up to the North West to play Sale.

Sale managed two tries to just a penalty for the Irish and Danny Cipriani probably did just enough to give watching Stuart Lancaster some food for thought. Cipriani is coming good at the right time – especially with Toby Flood heading to France and Freddie Burns out of sorts at the moment. Lancaster suffered a further fly half headache on Saturday when Owen Farrell was stretchered off

Two of the four matches on Saturday were right in line with my predictions – Bath proved too strong for Harlequins as the two of the most in form teams battled it out. George Ford continues to prosper and may well be in line for a 6 Nations call up – possibly alongside Cipriani.

Another Bath player also caught the eye – discarded centre Jonathan Joseph scored a scintillating try and is in the form that may just make Lancaster have second thoughts. Harlequins had only a Nick Evans penalty to show for their efforts.

The other game to go to plan was Exeter Chiefs beating Newcastle Falcons at Sandy Park. Leading just 9 – 3 at half time a Haydn Thomas try on fifty minutes sealed the match for the Chiefs. The Falcons have only managed three tries all season and were never likely to cross against the tough Chiefs defence. Having said that they are still 10 points clear of bottom club Worcester and that will help Dean Richards sleep at night.

I thought that Northampton would win comfortably at Wasps – but it was a very close game that was only settled in the Saints favour with the last kick of the game when Stephen Myler kept his nerve to slot a penalty that gave Northampton a 17 – 15 victory.

It wasn’t pretty but that won’t matter to the Saints with the 4 points keeping them clear of third placed Bath who they play next week.

The other game between Saracens and the Tigers I had down as a narrow win for the home side. If you count a 49 -10 final score as being close then I was right on the money.

The conditions were terrible and the strong wind was behind Saracens in the first half – they butchered several opportunities to build a big lead by ignoring overlaps but still managed to go in at half-time up by 18 – 10. In that wind it didn’t look enough – and I tweeted as much before they kicked off for the second 40. Mind you Richard Cockerill said pretty much the same on BT Sport when they jogged down the tunnel.

Shows you how much I know about rugby – Saracens won the second half by 31 to zip and picked up a 4 try bonus point with time to spare. The only blemish was the injury to Owen Farrell who had to be carried off – he appeared on the touchline a little later but, as yet, there has been no report on the extent of any injury.

The Tigers managed a charge down try from Graham Kitchener but that was about all.

The final game on Sunday was between two strugglers  – Gloucester at home to Worcester– it was an old fashioned scrap – and although we only had penalties to entertain us it was a full blooded affair that made for great viewing.

Freddie Burns was dropped to the bench with Billy Twelvetrees filling in at number 10. He didn’t look that comfortable as first receiver but his four penalties saw the Kingsholm crowd go home happy for Christmas after pocketing the 4 points. Worcester picked up their third losing bonus point and have just those 3 to show for all their efforts in the 10 games so far this season. It’s going to be a tough ask for them to have any chance of staying in the Premiership although there were a few signs that they are improving at last. Half backs Paul Hodgson and Paul Warwick adding real momentum to their attack when they came off the bench.

One final thought before I give you the full results list and the table – am I the only one who is getting a bit fed up with every possible decision being referred to the TMO?

This week we had the ref asking him to go back several phases to check on things and in one long debate regarding a possible forward pass the replay showed the touch judge (or whatever the modern term is these days) in exact line with the passer. If that isn’t his job then get someone who knows what he’s doing.

It’s not as if the TMO is infallible – last week Matt Giteau got away with an outrageous decision in the Toulon game at Exeter.

I fully expect to see the TMO called in to check whether it’s heads or tails at the coin toss in the near future – I mean we wouldn’t want the ref having to make a big call like that on his own would we!

Send your views on a postcard sellotaped to a £50 note (or $A100) to me at Dingly Dell, By the Bottom of the Magic Oak Tree next to the Wobbly Dum Dum Bush, England

Right back to the Premiership results for week 10 -

Sharks 15 – 3 London Irish

Bath 14 – 3 Harlequins

Exeter 16 – 3 Falcons

Wasps 15 – 17 Saints

Saracens 49 – 10 Tigers

Gloucester 12 – 6 Warriors

 

Table at December 22nd

Pos

 

Team

Pl

W

D

L

Pts

1

 

Saracens

10

9

0

1

41

2

 

Northampton Saints

10

8

1

1

38

3

 

Bath Rugby

10

8

0

2

34

4

 

Harlequins

10

6

0

4

28

5

 

Exeter Chiefs

10

6

0

4

27

6

 

Leicester Tigers

10

5

1

4

26

7

 

Sale Sharks

10

5

0

5

24

8

 

London Wasps

10

4

0

6

23

9

 

Gloucester Rugby

10

3

0

7

17

10

 

Newcastle Falcons

10

3

0

7

13

11

 

London Irish

10

2

0

8

12

12

 

Worcester Warriors

10

0

0

10

3

So we head into Christmas with Saracens looking strong and the Saints faltering slightly after their heroics at Leinster in the last round of the Heineken.

Bath, Quins, Leicester and the Chiefs look to be the ones who will have to battle for the other two play-off places.

I’ll post my predictions for next week’s games in a day or so. There are some tough calls and the likelihood of my getting another perfect 6 is right up there with my chances of getting a winning lottery ticket

Happy Christmas to all my regular readers – I hope you both have a great time!

 

 

About David Shute

Shutey’s obsession with all things rugby far exceeds his ability on the pitch during his playing days as his blog (www.rugbyoldbloke.wordpress.com) certainly testifies.
He lives in England and can be caustic about the progress of his team since his mate Clive resigned – this is reflected in his writing about the state of Northern Hemisphere rugby. You can follow Shutey on twitter but only if you seriously have nothing better to do.

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