Aviva Premiership Review: Rd 8

No Change There Then

It was back to business in the Premiership this weekend and I had confidently predicted all home wins in my preview.

Well – I got 4 out of 6 right and only a poor referred decision prevented a draw in one game that would have given me four and a half – but at the end of the day the results left little change in the table or the fortunes of most teams.

Friday night saw Sale at home to bottom team Worcester and so it didn’t take great insight to forecast who would get all four points. Sale duly snapped them up running out winners by 26 – 10 and added a bonus point with 4 tries. Danny Cipriani and Mark Cueto stood out for the Sharks as the Warriors clocked up their 8th loss of the season and stay rooted to the foot of the table.

Saracens travelled to Exeter Chiefs and came away with a win – but they were very lucky and the Chiefs deserved more than a losing bonus point. In the final move Tom Johnson crossed the line but the TMO ruled no try and they were denied. Pretty much everyone else saw it was a try – just as there was little doubt that Ireland knocked on when they crossed for their first ‘try’ on Sunday. Let’s hope that there is not going to be constant controversy with the TMO verdicts in the future – the refs seem to go upstairs for just about every try these days – no problem with that – but teams have the right to expect that there are no obvious errors in the final decisions.

It was an important win for Saracens and keeps them top of the table.

After a slow start which saw Gloucester take an undeserved lead, Harlequins gradually got on top and were pleased to notch up a win by 27 – 19. Both sides scored 3 tries and so there were no bonus points at the end of the day. Gloucester made something of a come- back in the second half but were too far behind to threaten the status quo. England colleagues Billy Twelvetrees (2), Jonny May and Danny Care got on the score sheet along with former international Nick Easter and the ever improving Luke Wallace.

London Irish travelled to Welford Road where their poor scrummaging did for them in the end.

Two penalty tries for the Tigers from repeated scrum offences largely made it a no contest with Toby Flood converting both to add to his two penalties. James O’Connor replied with a couple of penalties of his own and the Irish scored a consolation try at the death courtesy of Fergus Mulchrone as they took advantage of Graham Kitchener’s yellow card.

Stuart Lancaster will be concerned that Marlon Yarde once again had to be replaced in the second half through injury.

The other Saturday game was Newcastle Falcons visit to the Franklin Gardens fortress. The Saints (and I) were expecting a try bonus point win against the Premiership new boys but Dean Richards men had other ideas. Despite dominating possession and spurning numerous opportunities for penalties the Saints were only 6 – 0 up at the break and the Falcons had defended with much bravery and no little skill.

Their doggedness continued in the second half but they couldn’t prevent the industrious Wilson and muscular Luther Burell from scoring tries and moving them out of range of the bonus point they coveted. Nevertheless the Saints were unable to gain the try bonus point that would have closed the gap on Saracens.

At this point I had 4 correct results plus the moral victory from the Chiefs game – but then it all went pear shaped in the last match of the weekend.

I thought that Wasps, who until now had a 100% home record, would manage to pull the plug on Bath – oops – not even close!

Wasps were so poor up front that Bath romped away to a 28 – 5 away win and probably should have used their superiority to power to a try bonus point too.

Semesa Rokoduguni ran in two tries – the second following a lovely off-load from England’s discarded Jonathan Joseph

Bath are up to third in the table and with all their England squad back are looking good in the run up to the start of the 6 Nations.

 

R8 Results

Sale 26 – 10 Worcester

Exeter 9 – 16 Saracens

Harlequins 27 – 19 Gloucester

Northampton 18 – 0 Newcastle

Leicester 20 – 11 London Irish

Wasps 5 – 28 Bath

 

The table now looks like this –

Pos

 

Team

Pl

W

D

L

Pts

1

 

Saracens

8

7

0

1

32

2

 

Northampton Saints

8

6

1

1

30

3

 

Bath Rugby

8

6

0

2

26

4

 

Harlequins

8

5

0

3

23

5

 

Exeter Chiefs

8

5

0

3

22

6

 

Leicester Tigers

8

4

1

3

22

7

 

Sale Sharks

8

4

0

4

19

8

 

London Wasps

8

3

0

5

18

 

The top 6 look set to challenge for the play-offs but it is not out of the question that Sale could force their way into the reckoning. Wasps too are not totally out of touch but they will have to improve dramatically from Sunday’s performance to scare those currently above them.

The big game next week looks like being the West Country derby when Exeter visit the Rec.

I’ll post my preview later in the week along with a look at the last international of the autumn.

 

 

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.

Speak Your Mind

*