Rhiannon’s Aviva Premiership Round 16 roundup

This weekend saw more sublime and scintillating Premiership rugby as the countdown begins in the run up to the Aviva Premiership final. But anything could happen between now and then… couldn’t it?

Well one would think Northampton have done enough to secure a home semi-final with at least sixty points in the bag; but which teams will follow in hot pursuit of the other home semi? Well this is still the weekly conundrum and anyone’s guess – with only one point between second and sixth placed teams in the Table.

Place your bets!

So now to the weekend’s action and fantastic bonus-point wins for London Irish and Wasps, with the latter being my team of the weekend. The newly located Coventry side maintain their unbeaten record at the Ricoh Arena, cementing 32 points against Gloucester’s 12. Dai Young’s men didn’t really take the bull by the horns until the second half, where Guy Thompson put the final nail in the coffin in the 71st minute, taking his men to victory. But don’t get me wrong, the Cherry and Whites put up a really good fight. With the likes of Ross Moriarty and Henry Purdy running in the visitors tries but it just wasn’t enough to break the lucky spell that swirls around the Ricoh. Wasps now move up into 4th place – for now.

Unfortunately, there was no such luck swirling around the Kassam Stadium on Saturday in the battle of the Exiles with London Irish taking a 50-12 victory over London Welsh. And I’m naming my player of the weekend based on the visitors performance and awarding this to winger, Alex Lewington. The 23 year-old scored a superb hat-trick, stood firm, remained calm and oozed confidence in an exceptional performance for London Irish as he helped them on their winning way. Well done Alex!

And on that note, well done Leicester Tigers this weekend! They produced a powerful and punchy performance as they took on Sale Sharks at Welford Road. The feisty Tigers were dominant from the off with tries from Laurence Pearce, a penalty try and the boot of Burns adding to the tally, to take them into a 20-3 lead at half time. However it was a game of two halves and although a final try was secured in the 78th, Tiger’s display wasn’t as impressive as one may have thought, 28-8. There was no lack of contest from Sharks but they now tumble down to seventh place, leaving Tigers in sixth. But hey Tigers – we can mention the ‘T’ word again! And perhaps Sharks will have more to show for their efforts next weekend.

I also didn’t expect such a physical and dogmatic performance from ninth placed Harlequins as they travelled to Franklin’s Gardens on Friday evening. And I imagine I wasn’t the only one taken by surprise! I expected Saints to run in numerous tries and secure a bonus-point but that certainly didn’t happen. So I applaud Harlequins, for their resilience, strength and tenacity, especially with the half time score, 7- 6. And even though some had preconceived notions that the flood gates would open in the second half … well they didn’t and Saints were left a little red faced, especially when Marland Yarde ran in a late try to finish off what was a tight match from start to finish, 17-13. Saints remain top for now but with away games looming and with laid back play like that, the tables could turn. Stop napping!

Likewise, tables could also turn for second placed Saracens too; who struggled on home turf against 11th placed Newcastle Falcons for a 22-17 win. Doesn’t that just prove that you can lie anywhere in the table (well almost anywhere) and it’s still anyone’s game? What a healthy state the Aviva Prem is in. Both teams are renowned for their strong academy sides but it was the Premiership’s ‘fine wines’ such as David Strettle and Alesana Tuilagi that sparkled on the pitch. But if Saracens want to remain in the top four, they’ll have to pull out all the stops and some against Wasps at the Ricoh Arena next week. Wow, that looks like the fixture of Round 17 to me!

Finally last and by no means least, let’s turn attention to the stonking West Country derby between Exeter Chiefs and Bath. What a game! A game that tantalised the senses and made history as Chiefs became victorious over their West Country opponents – for the first time ever! Nothing really separated these two sensational sides and we all knew it would go down to the wire – and it did, until Will Chudley touched down under the posts to really catapult Bath out of sight, with eight minutes left to play. What a 16-6 nail-biter as the triumphant Chiefs now move up to third and Bath unfortunately fall a few rungs down the ladder to fifth place … for now; but I’m in no doubt Bath with bounce back and come out fighting next week, as they welcome Sale Sharks to the Rec.

A few years back, the Exeter Chiefs were in the Championship but look at them now, fantastic fans, a great attitude and they are in ‘Charge’ mode.

Anything Could Happen…..

Round 16 Results:

Exeter Chiefs 16-6 Bath

Leicester Tigers 28-8 Sale Sharks

London Welsh 12-50 London Irish

Northampton Saints 17-13 Harlequins

Saracens 22-17 Newcastle Falcons

Wasps 32-21 Gloucester

Aviva Premiership Table

Pos

Team

P

W

D

L

BP

Points

1

Northampton Saints

16

13

0

3

8

60

2

Saracens

16

10

1

5

6

48

3

Exeter Chiefs

16

10

0

6

8

48

4

Wasps

16

9

1

6

10

47

5

Bath

16

10

0

6

7

47

6

Leicester Tigers

16

10

1

5

5

47

7

Sale Sharks

16

9

0

7

7

43

8

Gloucester

16

7

0

9

7

35

9

Harlequins

16

7

0

9

7

35

10

London Irish

16

5

0

11

8

28

11

Newcastle Falcons

16

4

1

12

6

24

12

London Welsh

16

0

0

16

1

1

By Rhiannon Chandler-Day

@RhiannonCDay

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

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