Sunday, September 11, 2016

Premiership Week 2 roundup

by Kristian Ross

Kristian Ross column

Worcester 23-23 Gloucester (Fri)

After throwing away what should have been an open and shut win for Gloucester last week, David Humphrey’s side yet again failed to register their opening win of the Aviva Premiership season at Sixways. However, the main talking point of the match was the sending off of Alafoti Faosiliva after he elbowed Mariano Galarza. Twitter as usual erupted with many calling the decision harsh from referee Luke Pearce. Hard to say whether or not this was simply a “rugby incident” like last week’s game between Wasps and Exeter. Highlights are available on the BT Sport website, so go and make up your own mind. Bottom line, the two points were gratefully received by Worcester who no doubt will be scrapping come the end of the season.

Sale 19-10 Harlequins (Fri)

Sale opened their account for the Premiership with a victory over Harlequins in week two. It’s easy to say the writing was on the wall for Quins, who at times were desperately average against newly promoted Bristol last week at Twickenham, as Dan Mugford kicked fourteen points for the Sharks. Mat Luamanu was sent off late on to complete a double Friday night red card fest in a match that also saw three players go to the bin. A well-deserved win for Sale, with yet another team predicted to be in the lower echelons of the table come May picking up a valuable four points.

Leicester 22-34 Wasps (Sat)

Wasps highlighted their top four ambitions with a well-earned win over the Tigers at Welford Road. It was the first time that away side had won on Leicester’s patch since 2006. Jimmy Gopperth masterminded yet another win for Dai Young’s side for the second week in a row as he came away with nineteen points. Lachlan McCaffery got the Tigers only try as Christian Wade, Guy Thompson and Sam Jones all went over for the visitors. Leicester will be hugely disappointed they didn’t build on their outstanding win over Gloucester last week, with not even a losing bonus point as a consolation.

Bath 58-5 Newcastle (Sat)

Dean Richards and the Geordie faithful were firmly brought back down to earth as Bath smashed the Falcons at The Rec. The home side ran in eight tries including two each from Dave Attwood and Semesa Rokoduguni. George Ford scored an impressive eighteen points to continue his impressive form. Ally Hogg got the only try for the visitors, in a game that was a stark reminder that Newcastle are still far from where they need to be.

Exeter 13-34 Saracens

Saracens made it two wins from two as the Premiership champions swept aside Exeter at Sandy Park. Mark McCall’s team wrapped up a second consecutive bonus point in as many weeks as they ran in five tries with Scottish international Sean Maitland crossing the whitewash twice. Ultimately, it’s bad news for Chiefs fans, with two defeats on the spin albeit it tough opposition. No doubt Rob Baxter will be looking at big response next week at home to Harlequins, with his current team looking a shadow of the one that made the Premiership Final four months ago.

Bristol 10-32 Northampton

Northampton got their first victory of the campaign with a hard earned win over newly promoted Bristol at Ashton Gate. Saints star studded line up won out in the end with four tries in all, including scores from George North and Louis Picamoles. It was a much needed win for the Saints who were humbled at home by Bath in round one. Bristol again fell short, perhaps due to lack of quality, though it must be said that the two opening fixtures for the Avon side have been very tough. Andy Robinson will now look to aim to try and claim an unlikely scalp of Wasps in Coventry in round three.

THE WINNERS:

  • Bath – Many would have foreseen a win for Bath over Newcastle, but even so it’s now two wins from a possible two for Todd Blackadder since starting at The Rec. Bath were serious contenders the season before last and Blackadder will now be his side can make it into the coveted top four places next season. Judging by this start, you’d have to say so.

  • Sale – No one had given Sale much of a hope on Friday night against Harlequins, but Mugford’s excellent performance gave the Sharks a valuable four points against Quins at the AJ Bell Stadium. As mentioned earlier, it will be a tough season down the bottom of the table and victories over the big clubs will certainly not harm Sale’s chances of staying up come 2017.

  • Wasps – After looking exceedingly average against Exeter at times last week, Wasps put on a big show to take a huge scalp at Welford Road against the Tigers. Consecutive wins is always the perfect way to start the season, but Dai Young will be hoping it’s this kind of Wasps side that turns up every weekend.

THE LOSERS:

  • Newcastle – Newcastle were firmly reminded that the Premiership is a tough league after a disastrous eight minutes against Bath. Admittedly, even a narrow defeat or similar could have sparked a positive reaction from the Falcons faithful, but once again it was a case of Richard’s team rolling over. It may be too early to be talking of points difference, but that certaintly hasn’t helped Newcastle’s case.

  • Gloucester – The second week running that Gloucester have appeared in the loser’s section, but after that humiliating loss to Leicester in round one, the Cherry and Whites would have certainly be hoping to get that first win, especially after Worcester finished the game with fourteen men.

  • Harlequins – Quins were hard pressed last week by Bristol at Twickenham and despite a narrow win, alarm bells had started to ring. Needless to say that Sale may not be the easiest opposition in the world, but Quins left the north west with not even a losing bonus points to show for their efforts and it now poses the question , will they be good enough this season to make the playoffs?

@Kristian7Ross - 22, Geordie, part time journalist and Irish Rugby fan.

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