Connect with us

Representative Rugby

Rhiannon’s Aviva Premiership Round Up as Leicester continue to struggle

The talk of the weekend was undoubtedly London Irish’s 19-22 victory over Leicester Tigers at Welford Road, their first since 2003.

I’m in no doubt Richard Cockerill wanted the ground to swallow him up. Two penalties a-piece from Shane Geraghty and his counterpart, Freddie Burns would have been the only points on the board in the first half if it hadn’t been for Halani Aulika, who burrowed over to take the visitors into a 6-13 lead at half time.

Fiery Niki Goneva put the hosts back on the board with Burns converting, and even when Owen Williams kicked a three-pointer with 10 minutes left to play, it just wasn’t enough to stop the sound boot of Geraghty who had the final say. He slotted three penalties and edged the Exiles to victory. A tough time for the Tigers and a sorry sight once again but a splendid and consistent performance from the Irish. Are they the dark horses of this years Premiership?

Friday night saw London Welsh in action at home to Gloucester. The Exiles knew they needed to up their game against the Cherry and Whites and they did just that…in the first half! Even though JWC winner Henry Purdy and Charlie Sharples scored for the visitors in quick succession, London Welsh’s Ben Pienaar restored faith, crossing the white-wash off a rolling maul. And then Olly Barkley slotted one between the uprights, to reduce the deficit to just two points at half time.

As in other games though, fatigue set in for the Welsh in the second half and Gloucester scored four tries in 12 minutes! Mark Atkinson had a storming game when he came off the bench, scoring two of them from fantastic line breaks, one of which was the bonus point try. To add to the tally, twinkle toes Jonny May side-stepped defenders like a fish dodging sharks to touch down! Then referee Luke Pearce’s patience wore thin in the dying seconds and he awarded Gloucester a penalty try, to take the full-time score to a staggering 10-46 defeat for the Exiles.

A real confidence booster for the Cherry and Whites as they face Leicester Tigers at home next weekend.

Saturday saw the Saints host Bath at Franklins Garden, a game brimming with sheer grit and determination from both sides. Nimble yet ferocious Ben Foden shot off like a rocket early on setting Kahn Fotuali’i up with options on the wing but Luke Arscott’s attempted interception prevented the home side from scoring. Referee Tim Wigglesworth awarded a penalty try to Northampton and yellow-carded Arscott.

With Bath down to 14 men, it didn’t take long before the Saints second try This time, it was Calum Clark who crossed over in the corner, Northampton had set sail, or had they? Bath responded when Northampton’s defence was dormant, enabling Dave Wilson to bulldoze over and Ford converted. But Northampton weren’t backing down. Christian Day and George Pisi both touched down in the space of five minutes to gain the bonus point. But this tug of war took a turn when both Olly Woodburn and a rolling maul lead by Nick Auterac saw two Bath tries in ten minutes, giving them a losing bonus point.

The dynamic of the game changed in the dying minutes and it was truly tense! As the clock wound down and the visitors continued to attempt to batter the Saints defence 5 metres out with a pick and go strategy, the pressure was on. It all got too much though. They knocked on and time was up. It was a nail-biting 31-24 finish if ever I did see one.

Allianz Park was the perfect setting for the Saracens on Saturday as they welcomed Sale Sharks. With the North London side in fine form, it was apparent they weren’t going to let their unbeaten start to the season dissolve as they racked up a mighty 40-19 win.

Alex Goode belted over the line early doors for the Sarries and the boot of Charlie Hodgson also secured the conversion and a subsequent penalty. Sale retaliated and it was David Seymour who bundled over off a strong rolling maul with Danny Cipriani converting. But the composed Hodgson booted another six points and a try from Sarries Ernst Joubert plus a penalty try to the hosts enabled them to take a comfortable 30-7 lead at half time.

The tries were more infrequent in the second half with Richard Barrington securing the bonus point try for the home side and Sale being awarded a penalty try. Not as fruitful as the first half, but nevertheless, Sarries managed to maintain their unbeaten record as they look to take on Bath at the Rec next Friday night.

Harlequins’ hiccups continued when they travelled down to Sandy Park to be met by a defiant Exeter Chiefs pack. The boots of Ben Botica and Henry Slade had the teams level-pegging early on but fly-half Gareth Steenson added to the score board with a penalty and the menace that is Thomas Waldrom then charged down Botica’s kick to score and extend Exeter’s lead further, with Steenson converting. Botica and Steenson then swapped penalties just before half time to set the score board at 19-6 and it was all still to play for.

Harlequins came out charged and Botica’s boot nailed another three points and he also aided Asaeli Tikoirotuma’s try. But that only re-energised the Chiefs with twenty minutes to go. Another penalty pushed Chiefs further ahead and then into the distance when tries from Jack Yeandle and Henry Slade sealed the deal, adding sparkle to a show-stopping performance and a 36-13 victory for the Devonshire side. I look forward to watching them play Newcastle Falcons next weekend.

And what a note to end on…

Adams Park is notorious for being a tough ground to play at and on Sunday it was no different. The Newcastle Falcons landed to be met by a tight and solid Wasps pack who ran riot to seal a 35-18 win over the visitors. An early penalty allowed Juan Pablo Socino to nudge the Falcons in front but a swift response saw try time for Tom Varndell and James Gaskell, setting the Wasps up brilliantly with Andy Goode converting.

Ruki Tipuna did manage to sneak in a try just before the 40 minute mark for the Falcons taking the half time score to a narrow 17 points to 11. But Wasps posed a real threat in the second half with Goode’s boot slotting two penalties and off they flew seven minutes later. Varndell shot over to score his second of the afternoon and minutes later Rob Miller flew over to bag the bonus point try. Newcastle’s late penalty try was a mere consolation prize in this gruelling 35-18 loss – their 20th consecutive Premiership defeat. As for Wasps, a key element is consistency and that’s what they’re showing.

Aviva Premiership Round 4 Results:

London Welsh 10-46 Gloucester

Northampton Saints 31-24 Bath

Saracens 40-19 Sale Sharks

Leicester Tigers 19-22 London Irish

London Wasps 35-18 Newcastle Falcons

Exeter Chiefs 36-13 Harlequins

Aviva Premiership Table

Pos

Team

Won

Drawn

Lost

BP

Points

1

Saracens

4

0

0

2

18

2

Northampton Saints

3

0

1

4

16

3

Bath

3

0

1

3

15

4

Exeter Chiefs

3

0

1

2

14

5

London Wasps

2

0

2

3

11

6

London Irish

2

0

2

3

11

7

Gloucester

2

0

2

2

10

8

Leicester Tigers

2

0

2

2

10

9

Harlequins

2

0

2

0

8

10

Sale Sharks

1

0

3

3

7

11

Newcastle Falcons

0

0

4

1

1

12

London Welsh

0

0

4

1

1

By Rhiannon Chandler-Day

@RhiannonCDay

You can see more from Rhiannon at: http://rhiannonsrugbyunionblog.blogspot.co.uk

Click to comment

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

More in Representative Rugby

Skip to toolbar