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Aviva Premiership Round Up – Round 2

What an enjoyable weekend of Aviva Premiership action that was, backing up an exciting first weekend excellently

The big talking point from our point of view was Bath, their 27-20 victory against Leicester was excellent. Yes they let the Tigers come back into it despite having a commanding half time lead, however we must remember that this is Leicester, they do not just roll over when they are staring into the barrels of a defeat.

Our prediction of 6th place for this Bath side looks a little shaky now, on the early evidence of the season one would have to say that they look like a top four side at present.

Particularly impressive was Anthony Watson, who looks to have gained a huge amount of confidence from his success with the U20s in June and his move from London Irish, to be starting in this talented Bath backline whilst still and U20 is impressive, to be one of the stars is magnificent.

Leicester will not be too worried about this defeat though, they showed their same old ‘Leicesterness’ to get back into a game that looked beyond them and given how disrupted the start to their season has been with Richard Cockerill’s ban and Toby Flood and Tom Croft’s injuries they know that this loss is only one game.

One side who might just be a little worried though are Glocuester, their terrible performance against Sale in the opening round saw Saracens offering Gloucester fans a chance to watch their game for free if they guessed the winner correctly, showing just how disenchanted supporters had been with that performance.

Unfortunately for any that had hopefully backed Gloucester for the win, their chances were destroyed after jut 73 seconds when Nick Wood claimed the dubious honour of the second fastest red card in Premeirship history after stamping on the face of Saracens’ Jacques Burger.

It was a hideous piece of foul play for which he has rightly apologised, with Burger responding on twitter: “No hard feelings against Nick Wood for the early ‪#howsyourmother. We all do stupid sh** we regret straight away. Was great being out there.”

The unfortunate result of the red card though was that it rather ruined any chance for the game as a spectacle and Saracens glided away to a comfortable 44-12 victory, with David Strettle bagging a brace. It may not have been a performance from which we can learn a lot about either sides chances this season, however Billy Vunipola’s try after a powerful pick up and drive from the base of the scrum showed a glimpse of what he offers that they did not have before.

The team everyone wanted to watch after the opening weekend though was Northampton Saints, their slick, powerful, all dominant display against Exeter had everyone sitting up and taking note, if their trio of big-name summer signings did not already.

Their match at The Stoop against Harlequins had all the making of a classic until torrential rain sweeping across the capital rather shunned all possibility of a try-scoring fiesta.

What we did get to witness was a true test of ability under pressure and a test of the ability of both to alter their game to the conditions, something that Northampton managed just a little better as they edged to a 13-6 victory. Northampton certainly looked very impressive at this stage of the season, while Harlequins do look just a little short of the level that they would hope to be at.

Having said that, a side as good and as experienced as Quins will have the confidence that no team can maintain its performances, good or bad, at exactly the same level throughout a season and they will believe that they can build throughout the season.

Speaking of confidence, up in Salford Sale were on cloud nine after beating Gloucester so well last week and were eyeing up the game against Newcastle as a chance to begin the season with two wins in a row.

Newcastle had other ideas though and won the 15-14 after a late kick from Nick Evans’ former understudy at Harlequins, Rory Clegg. It underlined the belief that many have stated, that Newcastle are unlikely to be heading straight back down this season, particularly under Dean Richards’ guidance.

At Sandy Park Exeter came flying out of the traps, desperate to make amends for that rather large defeat against Northampton last weekend. Tries from former Cardiff winger Tom James were the pick of the bunch as they raced away to a healthy lead, however Wasps came back hard only to fail to get the elusive final score for the second weekend in a row, losing 30-26.

Over at Sixways London Irish came to town desperate to prove all of their doubters wrong. They have been largely written off for much of the pre season period, though after their performance last week and Worcester’s big loss to Leicester, many had them down as favourites for this one.

So it proved as Irish stole a tight one 20-18, leaving Dean Ryan and his troops with plenty to ponder before the visit of Harlequins next week.

All of that leaves Saracens at the top of the table with ten points and Gloucester at the bottom with one and with nobody really caring too much about the table as we are only two rounds in.

Aviva Premiership Results, Round 2:

Harlequins 6-13 Northampton Saints

Sale Sharks 14-15 Newcastle Falcons

Exeter Chiefs 30-26 London Wasps

Worcester Warriors 18-20 London Irish

Bath 27-20 Leicester Tigers

Saracens 44-12 Gloucester

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