Rhiannon’s Premiership Round Up

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Coach Logic

It was a poor night for Premiership Champions Northampton Saints on Friday, as the intent of the Exeter Chiefs was clear from the outset, leading to a demolition of the Saints in the first half on home soil.

Rob Baxter’s men set the bar high early doors with a driving maul led by Luke Cowan-Dickie, who took the Chiefs over for the opening try of the match. Stephen Myler replied with a couple of penalties in quick succession but it wasn’t enough to shake off the challengers.

Thomas Waldron’s interception and momentum took him almost half the pitch to slide over the try line for Exeter’s second – superb to see! If that wasn’t enough, before half time, the show stopping forward added another to the tally off the back of a five metre scrum. The Saints defence was dismal and they trailed 6-24 at half time.

In the second half Northampton seemed to switch on their game plan to score the only points of the second 40. Young Tom Stephenson scored the first of two Saints tries and Jamie Elliott followed suit, touching down in the corner to take the final score to 18-24. Too little too late for Northampton but a triumphant win for the Chiefs on the road and thoroughly deserved too, as they creep up the Premiership table!

Friday Night Lights at Kingsholm is always a spectacle and this weekend was no different! The Harlequins reignited their squad spark with a delightful 15-22 away win – their first in 15 years -against the Cherry and Whites.

The game could’ve gone either way though as the reliable boot of Billy Twelvetrees drummed up four penalties alone in the first half to put Gloucester on the front foot. But a try scored from a driving maul led by Quins front man Nick Easter saw the lead narrowed and with the boot of Evans slotting one between the uprights, going into half time, it was all still to play for, 12-10.

The second half saw the Harlequins put their foot on the gas. A second driving maul, this time anchored by Luke Wallace, took his pack 30 metres. The Harlequins shook off the Gloucester forwards as they continued to spill out the back of the maul, enabling Wallace to cross the white-wash for Quins’ second. Aled Thomas popped one through the posts in response but it wasn’t sufficient to stop this determined London side.

A beautiful phase of play on the attack from Karl Dickson saw a precise chip, chased down by Charlie Walker who flew over the try line with ease to secure the visitors’ victory at Kingsholm, their first since 1999. The Harlequins skilfully reaffirmed their position in the Premiership with this win …watch out Sale Sharks!

Bath welcomed the Newcastle Falcons to the Rec this weekend and it was Welshman Gavin Henson who opened up the scoreboard with a drop goal.

Falcons scored the opening try of the game though and it was Mark Wilson who touched down to Dean Richard’s delight. But the visitors lead was short lived as captain Stuart Hooper went over just before half time to nudge the home side in front, 10-7.

Bath bounced back again in the second half, Jonathan Joseph pummelling over the line and even when Sinoti Sinoti retaliated with Newcastle’s second try, it didn’t stop the composed Henson from converting a couple more penalties to put the final nail in the coffin for the Falcons, who left the Rec with their 5th Aviva Premiership defeat this season, 23-14.

History was made in more ways than one this Sunday as Wasps played out their final match at Adams Park before their move to The Ricoh and they tore up the pitch in a near devastating win of 71-7 against London Welsh, who again limp back to Oxford to lick their wounds.

In their final farewell, Wasps scored 11 tries courtesy of Christian Wade and Ashley Johnson, bagging a hat-trick apiece, Nathan Hughes crossing twice and Sailosi Tagicakibau, Joe Simpson and Tom Varndell also crossing each. However they did still leave the door open for a second and this match will also be remembered for marking London Welsh’s first – Ben Pienaar scoring their first try in the premiership in the 59th minute – at Wasps last ever match at Adams Park.

As Wasps take fifth place in the table and London Welsh still languish at the bottom, Dai Young believes that if his team continue to play the way they did today, they will cause anyone problems. We’ll see. Chiefs are a growing force to be reckoned with.

In adverse conditions, a very strange match took shape today at Welford Road featuring the home guard Leicester Tigers and 2nd in the table Saracens. With not one try conceded, the final score in front of a large crowd of 21,680 finished at 21 – 21. And it could have been so different, if Saracens – in Mark McCalls’ eyes – didn’t keep on letting Tigers back into the match. But they did and with seven penalties from Charlie Hodgson taking Sarries tally to 21 with less than one minute left to play, a penalty was awarded to Tigers in the scrum – and Owen Williams made it count – when it mattered most.

The two points apiece was welcomed by a very calm Richard Cockerill who was the first to admit that they didn’t control the game but it didn’t please Mark McCall, who said, “I think our own discipline throughout the match wasn’t good enough.” The boot of Owen Williams meant that Tigers were able to keep clawing their way back up and at the same time, in a game of penalties, Williams took advantage of a kicking masterclass , from a man not too far away from him, Charlie Hodgson. Sarries remain 2nd in the table.

In a surprise result, Sale Sharks trumped London Irish to the tune of 36-8 this Saturday in front of a 4,753 crowd at The AJ Bell stadium. I feel Sale Sharks show increasing slickness and style but this is a big margin against the usually capable London Irish.

Sale galloped to a 22-3 half-time lead against an Irish side who failed to counteract the Sharks’ intent and intensity. Three first-half tries and two in the second granted Sale their bonus point and they climb ahead of Irish in the Aviva Premiership Rugby table. Relying on a penalty in the first half and a try from George Skivington in the second, with two players also in the bin at one point, Brian Smith admits his team took a hiding and never really got going.

As for Sale, they were the masters of the scrum and the maul. Diamond stated that his players stuck to the script on Saturday and said with delight, “We managed to drag them into the maul and then they couldn’t stop it: if they collapse it’s a penalty and we do it again, so we got inside their brains a little bit on that front.”

A pragmatic Brian Smith said, “there are plenty of lessons to learn, but the good thing about sport is that a week is a long time and you can turn things round.”

Aviva Premiership Round 7 Results:

Leicester Tigers 21-21 Saracens

Wasps 71-7 London Welsh

Sale Sharks 36-8 London Irish

Bath 23-14 Newcastle Falcons

Gloucester 15-22 Harlequins

Northampton Saints 18-24 Exeter Chiefs

Aviva Premiership Table

Pos

Team

P

W

D

L

BP

Points

1

Northampton Saints

7

5

0

2

6

26

2

Exeter Chiefs

7

5

0

2

4

24

3

Bath

7

5

0

2

4

24

4

Saracens

7

5

1

1

2

24

5

Wasps

7

4

0

3

4

20

6

Harlequins

7

4

0

3

2

18

7

Sale Sharks

7

3

0

4

4

16

8

Gloucester

7

3

0

4

4

16

9

Leicester Tigers

7

3

1

3

2

16

10

London Irish

7

2

0

5

4

12

11

Newcastle Falcons

7

2

0

5

1

9

12

London Welsh

7

0

0

7

1

1

By Rhiannon Chandler-Day

@RhiannonCDay

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

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