Monday, October 01, 2012

English Premiership Round 5 wrap-up

Only the Saints held on to their 100% and fans at the Rec said goodbye Olly, writes Felix McCabe this week…

Aviva Prem column

Franklin’s Gardens was the venue for the massive clash of Northampton Saints and London Wasps this weekend. It was a case of Saints matching straight to the top of the table as a double from New Zealander, James Wilson, helped put Wasps out of reach. His first try came from play when he ran onto the end of a great offload and all but walked across the line. Wasps, who were showing off their new away jersey, found themselves at fault when Tim Payne dropped a knee in the ruck and got himself a ticket to the bin for his troubles. Courtney Lawes broke the line and managed to tie up two defenders, giving Northampton the overlap. A last-minute offload found Wilson who crossed for his second try of the day and saw the Saints take the victory; five from five now.

BarkleyOlly Barkley’s input in his farewell game for Bath Rugby, before departing to Racing Metro in France, would prove vital in this contest against small-fish, Sale. The flyhalf kicked all his side’s points in the first half, deterring a physical Sharks side. The sacking of their forwards coach seemed put their asses in gear, but they still couldn’t get that all-elusive try. An early sin-binning for Tom Brady left the Sharks in all sorts of trouble. After the half, Johnny Leota scored a try for the visitors, but another spell of silly penalties eventually saw Andy Powell in the bin. Further tries from Ben Skirving and a penalty try put the game to rest with Olly Barkley adding the conversions to end a glorious and colourful career at The Rec. Sale remain at the bottom of the table where realistically they need a couple of wins, and soon, before this team falls victim to relegation.

A standard enough affair at Sixways – that was until the end. Worcester came off better in the early exchanges but The Exiles were first to break the try line when their number 8, Ofisa Treviranus crossed in the corner. The Warriors hooker, Lutui would bury over the line minutes later and the conversion would see the home side lead 10-8 at the break. Indiscipline, the theme of the weekend across all games, would see Irish lose Jamie Gibson to the bin with twenty minutes left on the clock. The Warriors let loose at this stage and made use of the extra man. David Lemi, Semisi Taulava and Jon Clarke all scored tries in the dying minutes for Worcester securing their first win of the season. London Irish will be disappointed with their lack of discipline in this game and it is something they will need to address before they table-toppers, Saints, in the next round.

Welford road introduced a new star this weekend in the form of Adam Thompstone. The sprightly winger made an immediate impression, crossing the whitewash early in the first half. It was a case of hands will do it when Toby Flood fed out wide and Thompstone finished in the corner. Flood continued his influence on the match, converting and scoring two penalties, making it 16-3 at the break. Exeter’s complete lack of discipline giving the fly-half the opportunities. The second half started much like the first with Thompstone touching down for his second of the afternoon. A silly fumble from The Chiefs swapped the possession and the young lad took the spoils. Chiefs were suffering now. Poor defensive unity coupled with individual mistakes were making this a non-contest on their behalf. The Tigers would take advantage of this and pounce again. A lovely chip in behind from Matt Smith bounced beautifully for Adam Thompstone who made it a dream debut as he touched down for the third time. Exeter dropped to 7th in the table whilst the Leicester Tigers remain in joint 3rd.

quins sarriesThe Saracens v Harlequins game looked like a thrilling event of paper; but in reality – not so much. It was a game of brute strength, out of necessity more than anything else. Quins were presented with the first scoring opportunity; but lost the ball to Chris Ashton in play. Sarries counter-attacked and found themselves on the front foot; Ashton regaining the possession of the ball. He would end up bundled into touch by Quins’ Mike Brown. Quins lost Ollie Kohn to the bin for killing the ball but this didn’t deter them. Danny Care sniped a rook and exploited a gap in the Sarries defence; scoring a try in the process. The rest of the game was a physical, in-your-face game and resulted in a kicking contest between the 10s; Owen Farrell coming off the better and securing the wins for Saracens. Harlequins lose their top of the table spot to Northampton; despite playing the better rugby on the day.

The weekend’s final game saw London Welsh welcome Gloucester to the Kassam Stadium in Oxford. Welsh were well up for this one; coming off the back of two victories. The Cherry & Reds had other things in mind though. An early trade of penalties excited the crowd before a deliberate knock down saw winger, Nick Scott, sin binned. Gloucester took a quick penalty and Shane Monahan went over in the corner for the game’s opening try. Gordon Ross had the duty of keeping Welsh in this one; which he managed from his experienced boot. A couple of phases strung together helped Gloucester power over for their second try; Tom Savage the ball carrier. But Welsh would not be put down by this and after a series of ruck-to-ruck encounters the Premiership new boys would find themselves under the sticks; Ross adding the conversion. It was becoming a serious contest; neither side wanting to give an inch – but eventually Welsh succumbed to a third try when a ball came out wide to Shaun Knight. Freddie Burns ended the game with little encouragement when the ball game lose from a ruck; kicking out on the full for Gloucester to claim the victory.

Northampton Saints 24-6 London Wasps
Worcester Warriors 35-11 London Irish
Bath Rugby 31-10 Sale Sharks
Leicester Tigers 30-8 Exeter Chiefs
Harlequins 16-18 Saracens
London Welsh 25-31 Gloucester Rugby
Eng Prem table
Next Round
Friday, 5 October 2012
Sale v Leicester, 20:00
Saturday, 6 October 2012
Gloucester v Bath, 14:15
Exeter v Harlequins, 15:00
London Irish v Northampton, 15:00
Sunday, 7 October 2012
London Welsh v Saracens, 14:15
Wasps v Worcester, 15:00

Felix (@lightningrust): Blogger, eternal student of business & law, sunshine rugby player with a passion for music and fitness. Coffee is essential. Leinster fan and Irish proud.

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