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Rhiannon’s Aviva Premiership Round 17 Roundup

Without a shadow of a doubt my team of the weekend has to be the ever more exciting – Exeter Chiefs! Wow, what a thrilling, tantalising, try-tastic occasion it was at Sandy Park as they nailed an extremely convincing 74-19 win over London Welsh. However, credit where it is due as it was the Exiles who saw in the first of eleven tries, courtesy of Nathan Trevett.

A stunned Sandy Park fell silent but that was all it took as their men then ground into gear, displaying fine flair and physicality to subsequently run in eight tries, including two from the legendary Thomas Waldron, who has really has found his form in a Chiefs’ jersey – what an incredible asset. This Devonshire side are the business with their strength and determination providing the dividends; playing every game at 110%. Could it be this West Country side in the final?

I wish I could say the same about Northampton Saints but unfortunately on Saturday they played 40 minutes of poor rugby at Kingsholm, in sharp relief to Gloucester’s play which was truly scintillating. Saints were left battered and bruised mentally and physically running in at half-time, trailing 23-9. After stern words from Jim Mallinder however, their character and resilience returned for the second 40, to earn them a lucky two points and a 33-33 draw against the Cherry and Whites. I find myself saying it week in week out but if Northampton have set their sights on another Premiership final, they better re-find their mojo and start playing the clever rugby with consistency; especially with Wasps and the other top teams on the horizon.

As for the Saracens, consistency was key this weekend as they ended Wasps’ unbeaten streak of home games at the Ricoh Arena and took control of the match from the outset, sealing a crucial 17-26 victory.

It was the reliable boot of Alex Goode who kicked 16 points alone for the visitors – to set them on their way – and even though a yellow card was shown to Chris Ashton, that didn’t hold them back. They showcased their speed, agility and strong decision making – returning to playing their trademark rugby – so fluid and so classy.

Well done Sarries – back on track!

Another side back on track and their winning ways, are Bath. Much to the delight of Mike Ford and Sam Burgess, taking to Twitter to mention it.

It was still a hard fought contest on Friday night at the Rec, but we always knew it would be; especially against Sale Sharks, who can spring the surprises. It wasn’t a pretty game either – no tries – but in extremely windy conditions, the confident and composed boot of Tom Homer proved crucial for the home side, as he cemented four penalties to secure a 12-3 win. For that reason, I’m naming Tom Homer my player of round 17 of the Aviva Premiership. His counterpart, Danny Cipriani slotted one between the uprights but Sale’s indiscipline and ability to remain clinical was unfortunately their downfall against a tight Bath pack. Bath are in the ascendancy again – up to fourth.

…And Leicester move up to fifth after fighting tooth and nail against the Newcastle Falcons to nudge a 12-16 victory. The Tigers were trailing 12-6 at half time but managed to find their feet in the second half through Tommy Bell who crossed the whitewash six minutes before the final whistle! With Burns’ boot adding the extras and landing all three penalties, Leicester highlighted their composure and tenacity to graft until the very end. I look forward to them playing Exeter Chiefs on the 28th March – Game on!

Last but by no means least, Harlequins brought the Stoop alive this weekend after a mammoth performance against London Irish to snatch it, 26-20. The Quins needed the win after their long run of defeats and what a pertinent time to turn it around. Tries from Matt Hopper and Danny Care along with Nick Evans’ boot tally – successfully kicking four penalties and both conversions – sealed the deal. This victory has been long awaited and I’m in no doubt the London side can’t wait to get back out and do it all again – next time against Saracens at Wembley.

Good luck Quins!

Round 17 Results:

Bath 12-3 Sale Sharks

Exeter Chiefs 74-19 London Welsh

Gloucester 33-33 Northampton Saints

Harlequins 26-20 London Irish

Newcastle Falcons 12-16 Leicester Tigers

Wasps 17-26 Saracens

Aviva Premiership Table

Pos

Team

P

W

D

L

BP

Points

1

Northampton Saints

17

13

1

3

8

62

2

Exeter Chiefs

17

11

0

6

9

53

3

Saracens

17

11

1

5

6

52

4

Bath

17

11

0

6

7

51

5

Leicester Tigers

17

11

1

5

5

51

6

Wasps

17

9

1

7

10

48

7

Sale Sharks

17

9

0

8

7

43

8

Harlequins

17

8

0

9

7

39

9

Gloucester

17

7

1

9

7

37

10

London Irish

17

5

0

12

9

29

11

Newcastle Falcons

17

4

1

12

7

25

12

London Welsh

17

0

0

17

1

1

By Rhiannon Chandler-Day

@RhiannonCDay

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

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