Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Premiership Round 10

With just five points separating the top six Premiership clubs, every match is crucial. Felix McCabe has the latest…

Aviva Prem column
Quins (narrowly) secured their position on top of the Premiership table Friday night when they hosted the Worcester Warriors at the Stoop. It was a game spoiled by penalties; the champions barely edging ahead through the kicking efforts of Nick Evans for a second weekend running. It was the visitors who struck first though, as a team effort saw the ball go across the pitch and back, before David Lemi crossed in the corner. A great start for the Warriors from their opening scrum. Harlequins piled on the pressure and found themselves held-up over line on one occasion. Penalties from Evans keeping them in the game whilst Andy Goode was keeping the Warriors side of the scoreboard ticking over. A touch of brilliance on the 35th minute saw Evans find Matt Hopper who was unstoppable on his way to the line. Evans converted and added a penalty to put Quins in the lead at half-time. The penalty a result of some desperate defensive work from Semisi Taulava who found himself in the bin. The second-half didn’t offer much in the way of rugby but Alex Grove did manage to send Errie Classens, who had replaced scrum-half Paul Hodgson, over in the corner for the Warriors second try. This drew the game level with just over ten minutes to go. Evans would be the hero though as he nailed home a drop-goal and the decisive three points. It finished 22-19 in favour of the champions.

27068The last November game of 2012 saw the Northampton Saints travel to the Salford City Stadium in Manchester with the hope of regaining a pivotal position atop the table. This would prove an easy task as opposition, Sale, were no match for the mighty Northampton. Ben Foden made his return from injury and immediately commanded the backs division. Tries were secured in the first half through Jamie Elliott, Soane Tonga'uiha and Tom May (pic). First five-eighth, Ryan Lamb, converted them all; adding a penalty and a drop goal to his personal tally. The game was essentially over with the half-time score reading 27-3 to the visitors. The Sharks decided to play some rugby in the second half, but their inability to perform up front cost them. They did, however, manage to reduce their deficit and put in a semi-decent second half. A lot of work needs to be done with this Sale team if they are to survive relegation this season; but looking now, even that seems like too daunting a task.

Bath looking to build on last week's success, were to be denied as the referee saw red this week. A game that was standard until the 60th minute saw Bath lead Leicester 12-6; tries from Stephen Donald and Tom Biggs. All of a sudden Welford Road erupted. Francois Louw was sent off for use of the elbow. The Tigers capitalised on this immediately; scoring through Adam Thompstone. Another incident occurred in which Matt Banahan was red carded for a high tackle on Anthony Allan. Brett Deacon from Leicester was then sent off for an alleged punch and it continued with Stephen Donald sent to the bin for the same offence. Stupid and needless off-ball antics cost Bath dearly; George Ford taking the opportunity and converting three penalties to win it for the home side.

26953The London derby between Welsh and Irish was a kickers affair with all points coming from their respective punters. Gordon Ross (pic) was the better; slotting home 5 at the Kassam Stadium. Chris Hala'ufia was red carded for a dangerous tip-tackle on Seb Jewell which put the Exiles at an immediate disadvantage for the remaining seventy minutes. Elsewhere, Tom Varndell was doing what he does best; scoring tries. In an epic encounter that saw the Wasps tied with the Chiefs at half-time, both teams looked likely to win, but it was just a case of who would get that lucky break. This came during the time that Elliot Daly was in the bin; Chiefs working the ball in the middle of the pitch where Arscott perfectly kicked ahead and Dollman collected before diving over in the corner. Wasps would convert a late penalty to secure the losing bonus point, but it was another good day for the Exeter Chiefs who have now won their last three games.

Sunday's Premiership action pitted the on-form Saracens against the up-and-coming Cherry & Whites. A few personnel changes were made to accommodate for those on international duty; noticeably Billy Twelvetrees moving to fly-half and the return of Charlie Hodgson after his cheekbone injury. Hodgson was phenomenal with the boot; scoring seven penalties and converting Richard Wigglesworth's game-changing try. Gloucester never seemed out of the game with Akapusi Qera scoring his second try in as many weeks and another from prop, Dan Murphy. Murphy would end up sin-binned minutes after scoring his try. Sarries held out and secured their penultimate spot in the table. It finished 28-23 to Saracens.

Results

Harlequins 22-19 Worcester Warriors
Sale Sharks 16-27 Northampton Saints
Leicester Tigers 17-12 Bath Rugby
London Welsh 15-9 London Irish
Exeter Chiefs 30-23 London Wasps
Saracens 28-23 Gloucester Rugby

Eng Prem table

Next Round

Friday, 21 December 2012

Worcester v London Welsh, 20:00

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Bath v Saracens, 13:15

Gloucester v Exeter, 15:00

London Irish v Leicester, 15:00

Northampton v Harlequins, 15:15

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Wasps v Sale, 14:00

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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