Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Premiership Week 9 roundup

by Kristian Ross


Northampton 16-22 Newcastle (Fri):

Newcastle produced a stunning performance as they got their second away win of the Premiership season with an upset at Franklin’s Gardens. Joel Hodgson got the Falcons off to a tremendous start, his early try paving the way for a memorable evening. Kieran Brookes was sent off against his former club, but Northampton clawed their way back into a match that saw just a single try from the Saints, coming from Christian Day, whilst academy graduate Will Witty touched down for Dean Richards side. Stephen Myler kept the scoreboard ticking over as he put the home team ahead with ten minutes remaining, but a late score from Vereniki Goneva ensure a massive four points to take back to the North East after a seriously impressive display.

Bristol 16-21 Leicester (Fri):

Bristol got a second losing bonus point in as many weeks as their brave effort wasn’t enough against Leicester on Friday night. The Tigers led at half time through Adam Thompstone’s try as the boot of Adrian Jarvis kept the home outfit within touching distance. However, a cutting edge second half display from Leicester had the game wrapped up when Ellis Genge went over, but Freddie Burns kept up his form with an eleven-point tally. Bristol fans did have something to cheer when former policeman Rob Hawkins got amongst the scoresheet, but it was a case of too little too late, as fans at Ashton Gate saw their sides winless run in the league extend to nine matches.

Exeter 57-22 Worcester (Sat):

Exeter scored over fifty points for the second home match in a row as they smashed Worcester at Sandy Park in the only Premiership fixture on Saturday. The Chiefs, who ran in sixty two points against Cardiff Blues in the Anglo-Welsh Cup two weeks ago were quick out the blocks again, dominating a 24-3 score line at the interval. A penalty try as well as scores from Jack Yeadle and Will Chudley were just reward as a rampant Exeter side made short work of Worcester after the break. Eight tries were scored in all, with James Short, Carl Rimmer, Thomas Waldrom, Olly Woodburn and former Ulster back Ian Whitten all getting in on the act in the second half. Despite the influx of tries from Rob Baxter’s side, Worcester themselves did improve marginally as they crossed the whitewash through Dewald Potgieter, Josh Adams and the reliable Wynand Olivier, however the game was all but over in an afternoon that belonged to clinical Chiefs side.

Saracens 24-20 Gloucester (Sun):

Saracens made it eight wins out of a possible nine in the Aviva Premiership after seeing off an extremely stubborn Gloucester side at Allianz Park on Sunday. The away side, who have improved dramatically in the last few weeks led by two points at half time, thanks to tries from Ben Morgan who opened the account for the Cherry and Whites inside a minute and from Billy Burns as Brad Barrit and Mike Ellery kept Sarries in the hunt. However, despite a first half that produced four tries, the second period belonged to the kickers as James Hook and Alex Lozowski became the stars of the show. Unfortunately for the travelling fans, it was Lozowski who won the duel, with another shrewd performance this season as his four kicks in the match were enough to seal a victory to make sure that once again, Saracens would be top of the pile at the end of another round.

Wasps 34-24 Sale (Sun):

Wasps got back to winning ways after a disappointing round eight as they were too good for Sale at the Ricoh Arena on Sunday afternoon. The match was essentially over as a contest at half time, Danny Cipriani touching down for the home side as Ashley Johnson scored a brace to give Dai Young’s men a commanding lead. Bryn Evans scored after the restart, as American out half AJ MacGinty somehow got Sale in front, but Rob Miller got two tries in as many minutes to kill off any chance of a Sharks fightback. Evans got the third brace of the match along with Mike Haley, but Wasps produced a measured game to see out what may be an important four points in the race for the top spot.

Harlequins 21-20 Bath (Sun):

Harlequins took a big win against Bath as they edged a tough game at the Twickenham Stoop. It was an encounter that was possibly the tightest of the season, with just a one point differential at the break as well as the full-time whistle as Tim Visser and Kane Palma-Newport traded scores in the first forty minutes. Karl Dickson was the man to put Quins in control, but as Bath edged ahead through Nathan Catt, it looked like it was going to be another good day at the office for Todd Blackadder and co. However, if many have argued that Quins may not be quite there in terms of squad depth, it was one for the naysayers this week as young out-half Tim Swiel got the vital kick that meant the away side would have to settle for a losing bonus point as opposed to all four as Harlequins stepped up their intent of breaking into the top four.

THE WINNERS:

  • Newcastle – Before this season, the Falcons hadn’t won an away game in two years. Incredibly, they now have two away wins in nine matches and probably against the most unlikely opposition in Northampton and Gloucester. Either way, this win showed once again the improvement this season from Dean Richards side. The result is now surely the one that sees the Falcons safe, who now could be on to finish in a very good position after three solid years of eleventh place mediocrity.
  • Harlequins – All around, a good performance by Quins and an even better result. Still unlikely they will make the top four, but a good home record and some potential slip ups may just go in their favour. There is still a long way to go, but should they keep chipping away at The Stoop this season, something special may happen.
  • Gloucester – Yes, it’s true. Gloucester make the winners column despite losing. The first team to do so since the opening day of the season when Bristol’s spirited performance over Quins got them in. Glos make it for the same reason. Despite the defeat to Saracens, seemingly it looks like they may have finally got their act together after a poor start, having been the most improved side in the last few weeks. If it wasn’t for Lozowkski, David Humphrey’s team may have just edged it at the weekend at Allianz Park and it’s for that reason they find themselves in the prestigious three team section.

THE LOSERS:

  • Northampton – And just when you thought Northampton had turned a corner…. they go and lose at home to a side that has one away win in two years. That is no disrespect to the Falcons, who thoroughly deserved their win in the Midlands, but after a fantastic few weeks in which Saints had finally started putting a decent set of results together, they get beaten on their home patch at a crucial point of the season. Disappointing for Mallinder and the fans.
  • Bath – Harsh maybe, but this was a Todd Blackadder match that Bath should have won. It may be premature, but the glossiness of the start of the season seems to be losing its shine slightly for Bath and this was a frustrating game to lose. Still in the playoff spots, but a win that could have kept them second. Instead, they’re replaced by Wasps.
  • Worcester – A big defeat for Worcester sees them in the loser’s column and in fairness, it is fully deserved. Whilst winless Bristol probably won’t catch them, they are in a downward spiral and are now eight points behind tenth spot. Fair enough, Exeter on their day are very difficult to play against, but to ship that many points is criminal, having conceded just one converted try less (+7) than the Premiership’s bottom side.

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

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