Sunday, September 25, 2016

Premiership Week 4 roundup

by Kristian Ross

Kristian Ross column

Bristol 17-41 Exeter (Fri):

Exeter continued their fightback to get back up to the right end of the Premiership table with a comfortable bonus point win over Bristol at Ashton Gate. Olly Woodburn and Thomas Waldrom both scored a brace of tries as the Chiefs made it a second consecutive win in two weeks. Bristol have now conceded one hundred and sixty-four points in four matches, totalling an average of forty-one points conceded since the start of the campaign. Max Crumpton, Ross McMillan and Jordan Williams all scored for the home side, but another big defeat left Andy Robinson’s side rock bottom with just a solitary losing BP.

 

Worcester 34-34 Sale (Sat):

Worcester got their second Premiership draw of the season after a topsy-turvy encounter against Sale at Sixways. Sale who had a twelve-point advantage inside the first quarter looked odds on to go and bag an away win against the Warriors, but as half time came and went, an impressive Worcester side saw a 31-17 lead open up with tries from Wynand Oliver, a double from Jamie Shillcock, Jonny Arr and Perry Humphreys. The Sharks produced a spirited fightback to come back from fourteen points down, with Will Addison, Neil Briggs and Halani Aulika all adding their names to the scoresheet. With try bonuses all round, both teams may just feel that three points isn’t a bad return from the encounter, points of which may be crucial towards those final few rounds.

Northampton 15-20 Wasps (Sat):

Wasps yet again highlighted their title intentions by topping the Aviva Premiership after another impressive win over Northampton. Saints fans who had already seen their side taste defeat at Franklin’s Gardens this season saw a tough encounter with Wasps fly half Jimmy Gopperth continuing his incredible form this season, claiming a thirteen-point tally including a try of his own. Admittedly, it had looked like it was going to be Northampton’s day when George North opened up with a try just a few minutes in. Josh Bassett got the match winning try for the away side to make it four wins on the bounce. Ken Pisi was binned for the Saints, but they did have one small consolation after gaining a losing bonus point. Despite the tough opposition, Jim Mallinder will hope that away teams taking the spoils at The Gardens won’t become a regular occurrence.

Harlequins 17-10 Saracens (Sat):

Saracens lost their first Premiership match since March as Harlequins produced a fine first half display that was enough to take the w at The Stoop. Mark McCall’s side hadn’t experienced defeat in the league since losing to Leicester over six months ago but were penned right back in the first half as converted tries from Tim Visser and Charlie Walker saw Quins take a 17-0 lead into half time. Saracens scored through Richard Wigglesworth converted try to give themselves hope and that was furthered when Ben Spencer kicked a penalty, but it those would be the only scores of the second half as a resolute Quins sign stood firm, showing much signs of improvement after the last few weeks.

Gloucester 12-18 Newcastle (Sat):

Newcastle produced a stunning win over Gloucester at Kingsholm as the grabbed a first Premiership away win in two years. An astute display saw the Falcons go toe to toe with the cherry and whites as Mike Delany kicked two vital penalties in additions to scores from Alex Tait and Dom Waldouck. The sides were level at half time courtesy of the boot of Billy Burns and Ross Moriaty going over the line, but a weak Gloucester side could only muster a single second half score, a three pointer via Greig Laidlaw. It was a mammoth defensive effort from Newcastle, who celebrated in proper rugby fashion following the club’s social media account confirmed Dean Richard was buying pints for players and fans alike.

Leicester 34-14 Bath (Sun):

Bath suffered their first defeat under Todd Blackadder as Leicester grabbed an important four points at Welford Road. The win means the Tigers move to within a point of the away side after tries from Brendan O’Connor, Tom Youngs and Ed Slater ensured a comfortable win. Owen Williams struck an impressive seventeen points from the boot as Leicester outlined their playoff intentions against one of the Premiership big boys. Semesa Rokodguni and Tom Dunn both crossed for Bath, but for the first time this season, Bath never really quite seemed at the races.

THE WINNERS:

  • Newcastle – Easily the best win for the Falcons in years, Newcastle produced a stunning but gritty display to take a deserved victory. Following the narrow loss last week to Leicester, Richards side has bounced back tremendously well. Perhaps too premature to tell, but it finally seems that Newcastle may have turned a corner and will no longer be the proverbial Premiership whipping boys.

  • Wasps – Dai Young can do no wrong at the moment as Wasps won yet again to top the Premiership summit. Wasps are seemingly shaking off the shackles of being last season’s nearly boys and it seems that things are now fully starting to click at The Ricoh Arena.

  • Harlequins – Harlequins ditched the shackles of some poor performances this season with a competent performance against champions Saracens. After suffering a defeats to Sale and Exeter, it was crucial Quins made a statement of intent and to get back within the hunt for the top four.

 

THE LOSERS:

 

  • Bristol – We may only be four rounds into the season, but if any of us were to pick a favourite to go down, it would be Bristol. Despite the opening day spirited performance against Quins, Andy Robinson’s side is finding life back in the first tier extremely difficult and are seriously defensively weak. With the Falcons having picked up points over the last few weeks, as have Worcester and Sale, Bristol already have a serious challenge on their hands to try and make up ground and if something doesn’t change soon, they may well be cut adrift.

  • Northampton – It doesn’t bode well for Saints with already two home defeats this season. Yes, it may be to quality opposition, but Jim Mallinder must now face the facts that the Fortress Franklin may be starting to crumble. It’s now a third defeat of the season for Northampton and unfortunately for Mallinder, that simply isn’t good enough for a club of that stature.

  • Bath – A disappointing day at the office for Bath. You could almost say they have been impeccable so far this season, but they missed a step against the Tigers. Hopefully for the fans at The Rec, it’s only a one weekend thing and not the start of a blip.

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

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