Friday, November 25, 2016

Premiership Week 8 roundup

by Kristian Ross


Worcester 17-18 Northampton (Fri):

Northampton continued their resurgence under Jim Mallinder after a narrow one point deficit was enough for them to take the spoils at Sixways. The Warriors who led 10-9 at the break proved a real test for a strong Saints side, but ultimately were outdone by the boot of Stephen Myler, who kicked a hugely impressive six penalties to give the away side the win. Dean Hammond got the first try for Worcester alongside another score from Bryce Heem in the second half in a match that could have so easily went another way if it wasn’t for lack of discipline. 

Bath 16-9 Bristol (Fri):

Bath put a disappointing two weeks in the Anglo-Welsh Cup behind them as they overcame winless local rivals Bristol at The Rec. In the second of Friday’s low scoring Premiership clashes, a stubborn Bristol side gave Bath problems, however Jack Wilson’s try alongside three penalties from Matt Homer ensured a victory for Todd Bladdacker’s side. Bristol rarely threatened themselves, but did grab an important bonus point thanks to out half Billy Searle.

Newcastle 19-32 Exeter (Fri):

Exeter relieved their woes after a disastrous few weeks as they comprehensively took a four try bonus point win at Kingston Park. The ever-reliable Thomas Waldrom and Ollie Devoto had the Chiefs firmly in control before Scott Lawson hit back with a try of his own to put the Falcons back into contention. However, Gareth Steenson’s array of penalties gave Exeter firm advantage before Will Chudley and James Short made sure of an away victory, despite a late flurry as Matthew Tait crossed the whitewash and Mike Delany tried to claw something back via the kicking tee. 

Gloucester 36-18 Wasps (Sat):

Gloucester produced arguably the result of the season as they thrashed high fliers Wasps at Kingsholm. With a patchy home record and an ability of failing to kill off games, many had not given the home side a chance but David Humphrey’s side romped to victory with a classy display. Richard Hibbard’s try had Gloucester ahead at the break along with a James Hook penalty as Tom Young kept Wasps in the hunt with a score. Mark Atkinson gave the Cherry and Whites some breathing space, but Young went in again as Gloucester were unable to shake off a resilient side. However, three tries from Henry Purdy, Charlie Sharples and Matt Scott saw the home team firmly in control, as a disappointing Wasps team were given a rude awakening. 

Sale 13-28 Saracens (Sun):

Current champions Saracens returned to the summit of the Premiership after a routine win in Greater Manchester over Sale. Once again, Alex Lozowksi impressed with the boot, with a thirteen-point tally alongside tries from Marcelo Bosch, Matt Gallagher and Ben Spencer. Sale could only managed a single try through Josh Beaumont, with former Connacht out half AJ MacGinty providing the extras, but an assured Sarries performance was more than enough to topple the Sharks in a deserved victory. 

Leicester 25-6 Harlequins (Sun):

Leicester boosted their chances of securing a Premiership playoff spot at the end of the season as Freddie Burns destroyed Harlequins at Welford Road. Burns who managed a conversion, a drop goal and five penalties controlled throughout coming away with a haul of twenty points of his own. Owen Williams should his worth again with a try as Harlequins failed to deal with a tactically astute side from Richard Cockerill who got the second half exactly right after leading 9-6 at HT. And it was those six points from Nick Evans in the first half was all that could be managed by Quins, who were outplayed massively in the second forty.

THE WINNERS: 

Gloucester – Super, attacking rugby. Far too many times this season Gloucester should have edged over the line but have been beaten by the opposition. Physiological perhaps, but a nervy ending doesn’t make good for any fan. Fortunately, it wasn’t the case this week, dominating well against a team that could well be champions at the end of the season. One off or not, a much-needed win.
Leicester – A good day at the office for the Tigers despite a miss able first half at Welford Road. Bottom line, a big four points as they attempt to keep plugging away enough to secure that playoff spot come May. The win comes against a side that should be challenging themselves, so any victories like this one will be sure to keep Richard Cockerill happy at the end of the season.
Northampton – Northampton have turned a corner in the last few weeks. Many panicked, myself included, but the Saints are now just four points within the top four places. A single point win that probably should have been more, but Mallinder deserves credit, with the new few weeks looking like the most important in Northampton’s season. 

THE LOSERS:

Wasps – Hard to believe that Wasps could be beaten so badly, but the Premiership is a league that does throw up surprises and Wasps were soundly beaten at the weekend. Not only did Gloucester run away with the win, but Wasps fell away in the second half. Dai Young will be disappointed and despite the flair and style, you just get the feeling they don’t have the efficiency of Saracens, who now look to be Wasps biggest thorn in their side. 
Harlequins – No doubt Leicester were brilliant, but Harlequins rolled over in a game that they were only three points behind in at half time. Yes, conditions were wet, but the Tigers adapted and Quins… well they didn’t. If you are going to make a top four push, these are the big games that matter. Harlequins looked nothing like a top four side at the weekend.
Sale – In fairness, the final losing spot could have gone to anyone this week… but it has gone to Sale. They’ve looked relatively decent this season at home and would have hoped to have been better against an albeit excellent Saracens side. However they still seem to be exceeding expectations according to many.

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

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