Rhiannon’s Aviva Premiership Roundup

If we were to dissect this weekend’s Aviva Premiership action, I think it’s fair to say there was quite clearly a divide between our top six teams in terms of overall performance – abysmal from some – and terrific from others!

Saracens and Exeter Chiefs pulled off respectable and monumental performances on home turf respectively; as for our East Midlands duo, Saints and Tigers … erm … not so much.

Can we speculate it was down to the fact they were playing away from home? Hmm, well that’s a factor but not the overall arching reason I would hazard a guess at.

The Saracens overcame a few stumbling blocks in their first half against the travelling Tigers, as they played into the whirling wind at Allianz Park and the boot of Freddie Burns controlled the game beautifully for the visitors, putting the first points on the board. But a surge of determination like no other nudged the home side in front on the stroke of half time with a stupendous try from Billy Vunipola. And they carried the momentum forward and came back to put in a dazzling second-half shift with two tries in quick succession to seal the deal, 22-6, for second place Sarries. No shut off point for Sarries, they know what a season requires.

It was also electric at Sandy Park as the Exeter Chiefs welcomed top placed Northampton

Saints. Blimey didn’t the Chiefs throw everything into this match … even the kitchen sink. Their tackling and set piece was exceptional and their patience paramount which saw them lead at half time, 8-5. They went on to maintain their drive, defence, composure and versatility all over the park to absolutely knock Northampton down like a woodcutter with an axe and eventually demolish them, 21-10. Did I expect Exeter to win? Yes. Sandy Park is renowned as a tough place to play. Did I expect Northampton to play so poorly? No. And I really hope they muster up their mojo in time for Sarries at Stadium MK in two weeks time, otherwise they’ll be many a fan down in the dumps! Come on Saints, three yellows? You can have a rest when the season’s over – don’t give up now – give us a thrill like the Chiefs!

On to the Madejski Stadium on Sunday and London Irish succumbed to a try from Sale’s Tom Arscott early doors; but the Exiles’ were canny and the Sharks took the bait, with Alex Lewington firing off on all cylinders in the second half with two tries in six minutes. It was enough to assist his side as they fought hard and remained resilient to nail it when it mattered most. Full-time 25-23; in a thrilling match that could see the Sharks out of contention for one of the top four play-off positions. A shame really but nevertheless, the Salford side have had a fantastic season to be proud of.

As have Wasps. However, it did look like a shaky start for them at the Kassam Stadium as they visited London Welsh on Sunday. And I began to wonder whether we would see our first win for the Exiles as it was a tight contest going into half-time, 5-12. An excellent first-half performance from London Welsh demonstrated their tenacity but they let it slip through their fingers when Tom Varndell swooped in for a hat-trick – as you do – and then Wasps were off … wickedly denting Welsh’s dreams with four tries in the final forty to secure the bonus point win, 13-40. Well done Wasps!

Well Newcastle Falcons didn’t manage to burst Bath’s bubble on Friday night, but they did their damnedest. Even though Ollie Devoto was the first to cross the whitewash in Newcastle for the visitors, it was the incredible Samoan, Sinoti Sinoti, cutting through the night air and raising supporters to their feet as he provided a unique try, shaking off defenders like Taylor Swift with men on the dance floor, touching down in the

corner to keep Falcons hopes of a win alive. But Bath were relentless and their style of rugby is sophisticated and world class when they’re on form, and they were.

Sam Burgess started at flanker and although I think handling errors occur and natural flair disappears when a player is multitasking and over-thinking, Mike Ford was buoyed by his performance and overall, the visitors showed flair in front of Kingston Park, peeling off and out of arms reach to come away victorious, 19-29. Bath remain in third place in the League for now but they have a very good run in for the next three weeks.

As for two teams battling it out in the middle of the Premiership table, Harlequins needed something to shout about on Saturday, as they took on the Cherry and Whites at the Stoop in front of a huge home crowd of 14,800. And what a second-half try-fest treat the supporters had! It was ultimately the boot of Nick Evans and Greig Laidlaw respectively in the first-half who kept both teams in contention. But Quins were looking to bounce back and they did, when Gloucester were down to thirteen men with two players in the bin. Marland Yarde and Ollie Lindsay-Hague both scored and even though Dan Robson fought back to dot down two minutes from the final whistle, it was just a fraction too late as Quins scraped it at home. 29-26.

And one thing’s for certain, did I mention? It’s #threeroundstogo!

All aboard for a super scintillating showdown!

Game on…..

Round 19 Results:

Exeter Chiefs 21-10 Northampton Saints

Harlequins 29-26 Gloucester

London Irish 25-23 Sale Sharks

London Welsh 13-40 Wasps

Newcastle Falcons 19-29 Bath

Saracens 22-6 Leicester Tigers

Aviva Premiership Table

Pos

Team

P

W

D

L

BP

Points

1

Northampton Saints

19

14

1

4

9

67

2

Saracens

19

13

1

5

7

61

3

Bath

19

13

0

6

9

61

4

Exeter Chiefs

19

12

0

7

10

58

5

Leicester Tigers

19

12

1

6

5

55

6

Wasps

19

10

1

8

11

53

7

Sale Sharks

19

10

0

9

8

48

8

Harlequins

19

9

0

10

7

43

9

Gloucester

19

7

1

11

8

38

10

London Irish

19

7

0

12

9

37

11

Newcastle Falcons

19

4

1

14

8

26

12

London Welsh

19

0

0

19

1

1

By Rhiannon Chandler-Day

@RhiannonCDay

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

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