Rhiannon’s Premiership Review – Round 12

The beauty of the Aviva Premiership is that on the day any team can win no matter what position they hold in the league; and this weekend, in round 12, we saw some brave and exquisite rugby being played across the board and in my opinion, some of the teams that excited and shone, could be described as the underdogs.

Looking at the fixture list on Friday, on recent form, I had an idea of which teams I thought could win, or come close and well, it just wasn’t that straightforward. Even Saracens beating London Irish 22-6 this round, after their last encounter, would we have been surprised if it had gone the other way? In fact I was delighted to see several of the Premiership sides play with the intensity, gumption and resolve that they did, with a specific mention to London Welsh who ended the weekend on an incredible high. Even though they lost to the Harlequins 24-13, the sheer grit and determination they’ve continued to play with and even more so this weekend, as they injected another new lease of life into their play, was remarkable. I am full of admiration for you.

And the same could be said for the Cherry and Whites, who stole a crucial win at Exeter from under the Chiefs’ noses, 25-26. The confidence with which these sides are playing is almost tangibly growing and certainly giving fans what they come for. With twists and turns set to continue this season, you just can’t call it and it was a weekend I thoroughly enjoyed.

Especially on Friday night, as the feisty Falcons threatened Northampton Saints all over the Gardens. It really went down to the wire with nine tries run in and seventy points racked up in total, 39-31. With academy players demonstrating their worth in the first team, especially for Newcastle Falcons, Dean Richards wasn’t shy about sharing his enthusiasm for the development of his squad and the team in general, who seemed to have turned a corner. I look forward to seeing them develop further.

I was also pleased to see Wasps move up into fourth place after their bonus point 41-16 victory over the Sharks at the Ricoh Arena, where they’ve got their feet firmly under the table extremely quickly. If their new stadium hasn’t impressed you enough, then surely their current form has? They’ve been collectively firing on all cylinders recently and this weekend’s performance proved no different. In contrast, I was surprised at the weaker performance from Sale Sharks and I’d kind of expected some sparks to fly. They were tactically cornered early on by Wasps, with little possession or room to manoeuvre from an attacking perspective. Job well done Wasps – happy in your new nest then?

Like Sale, it was a shaky Sunday for Bath too and I was really hoping for a lot more from the West-Country pack but they really came up against it at Welford Road. Mike Ford clearly said before the game, “If we play well, we should win” but unfortunately Tigers allowed them no platform to get into their stride and they just couldn’t break through a tight Tigers defence.

Was it a wise move playing Sam Burgess in the centre after his run of A-league matches at 6? Well possibly, if he’s got any chance of heading into the Six Nations next month. But credit to Leicester, as they stormed to a 17-8 win, leaving Northampton top of the table and Tigers in fifth position. It’s been a tough first half of the season for Leicester, with several players of international experience out with injury but they looked dogged and resistant this weekend – the boys are back in town!

The standard of rugby played in round 12 was exceptional and hats off to those who put their necks on the line for their teams; it really showed. Teams seem to be evaluating and regrouping week on week; pulling out the stops and something extra out of the bag; the upshot being that we are being treated to surprises and some teams treated to a shock.

You have to be fairly resilient to claw back into a game and this weekend our Premiership teams showed creativity, capability and promise … lots of it!

A thoroughly enjoyable weekend of rugby all round, it’s all to play for … until next time. 

Aviva Premiership Round 12 Results:

Northampton Saints 39-31 Newcastle Falcons

Exeter Chiefs 25-26 Gloucester

Saracens 22-6 London Irish

London Welsh 13-24 Harlequins

Wasps 41-16 Sale Sharks

Leicester Tigers 17-8 Bath

Aviva Premiership Table

Pos

Team

P

W

D

L

BP

Points

1

Northampton Saints

12

10

0

2

8

48

2

Bath

12

9

0

3

6

42

3

Saracens

12

8

1

3

4

38

4

Wasps

12

7

0

5

7

35

5

Leicester Tigers

12

7

1

4

5

35

6

Exeter Chiefs

12

7

0

5

6

34

7

Sale Sharks

12

6

0

6

6

30

8

Harlequins

12

6

0

6

5

29

9

Gloucester

12

5

0

7

5

25

10

Newcastle Falcons

12

3

0

9

4

16

11

London Irish

12

3

0

9

4

16

12

London Welsh

12

0

0

12

1

1

By Rhiannon Chandler-Day

@RhiannonCDay

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

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