Shorn of its international players, but still packing a mighty fine punch, the Aviva Premiership was back on the scene this weekend. I fully appreciate the amount of rugby that was flying your way, so maybe you missed the goings on of Round 8 in England’s top flight. Here’s a quick low down, then you can get back to working out which game Jaco Peyper was watching.
Bath beat beleaguered Bristol by a score. Not much in this, Bath jumped back to the head of the table (temporarily) and Bristol gave a much better account of themselves than whence they last played in this league. Only one try in it; it proved the difference. They gave ‘man of the match’ to a prop forward (Nathan Catt); ‘nuff said. Taulupe Faletau played 55 minutes, although Matt Garvey and Rhys Priestland both limped off. Bristol snaffled a bonus point but that first win still eludes like Frank Abagnale (Catch Me If You Can - come on, keep up).
Exeter’s trip to Newcastle was longer than any Leonardo Di Caprio film and the result was a bit like ‘Titanic’. I mean, sure, you knew what was going to happen but how they did it was still impressive. The Chiefs achieved what no other team has done this season; scoring four tries and carrying home the bonus point win from Kingston Park. An early gift of a try from Newcastle helped them on their way and that, plus a large amount of indiscipline, had Dean Richards snarling. Exeter up to fifth, Falcons slip to tenth.
Problems persist at Saints, and whilst Northampton notched up a ‘W’ at Worcester, few fans left Sixways satisfied. Stephen Myler’s boot bagged all of the visitors points as an injury ravaged Warriors conceded an eye-catching eighteen penalties (to Saints’ six). Jamie Shillcock started at 10 for the home team and he could have been the hero; his long and last-minute penalty kick falling short. Worcester beaten at home for the first time this season (they are seven points clear of Bristol); Saints flatter to deceive in sixth.
Just the one game on Saturday afternoon, nestled in amongst some behemoth Internationals. Gloucester broke their home duck in fine style, dispatching of Wasps through a combination of dogged defence and neatly taken chances. Danny Cipriani’s gaff will make the headlines; with the match neatly poised at 10-11 to Wasps, he miscued his clearance kick into his own scrum half’s head and then failed to gather the bouncing ball, allowing Mark Atkinson and friends to slide through and score. Glaws continued to press and grabbed the bonus point as Charlie Sharples scooped up Willi Heinz’s long, cross field kick. Gloucester suddenly look like quite a good side. The opposite is true of Wasps.
Sunday’s double helping came at you much like a good roast dinner, reassuring and plentiful with not too many surprises. Saracens visited Sale Sharks and Alex Lozowski steered the visitors home with a tidy performance from outside half. Some trusty names also stood out; Brits, Burger and Barrett delivered assured performances that left Sale unable to contend. Sarries return to the top of the table whilst the Sharks slump to seventh.
Leicester were also in dominant mood as they ushered aside Harlequins at Welford Road. Freddie Burns was back at ten and helped move the Leicester pack around the park, and into try scoring positions. ‘Quins couldn’t really get going and have won only once away from home in eleven Premiership matches. Tom Croft made a rare appearance, then went off with an injury (natch), while James Horwill made Twitter dry wretch as he perfected the ability to point two different ways with the same hand. Tigers tiptoe up to fourth, Harlequins sink to eighth.
Until next week, fingers crossed (not you, Horwill).
Aviva Premiership Team of the Week - Round 8
15 James Hook (Gloucester), 14 Dean Hammond (Worcester Warriors), 13 Ollie Devoto (Exeter Chiefs), 12 Brad Barritt (Saracens), 11 James Short (Exeter Chiefs), 10 Freddie Burns (Leicester Tigers), 9 Ben Spencer (Saracens)
1 Richard Barrington (Saracens), 2 Richard Hibbard (Gloucester), 3 Kane Palma-Newport (Bath), 4 Ed Slater (Leicester Tigers), 5 Mario Galarza (Gloucester), 6 Tom Ellis (Bath), 7 Brendon O’Connor (Leicester Tigers), 8 Ben Morgan (Gloucester)
Written by Sam Roberts for The Rugby Pod