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Rhiannon’s Aviva Premiership Roundup

Friday Night Lights at the Rec was far from average and not what I had expected either in the first half from Bath, who seemed a little slow out the starting blocks.  And with an incredible effort and determination from London Irish, starting with a punchy performance, they definitely came to cause upset.  And they did just that for the first forty, remaining resilient even with Jebb Sinclair’s sin binning, to take a 13-12 lead going into half time. 

Mike Ford’s half-time talk paid dividends and Bath were back out proving why they are such a creative and strong team.  They remained composed and fleet of foot as stunning running rugby took centre stage with their International back line locking four out of the five tries and MOTM Sam Burgess adding a cheeky one too, securing the bonus-point win, 43-18. Bath will undoubtedly be looking to secure a home semi-final as we look towards the Aviva Premiership Final and with every game now crucial – everything is riding on these next two games. Next stop – the Stoop. Good luck Bath. But will you need it?

As the sun shone on Saturday, it was far from one way traffic at Stadium MK, one of the

host stadiums for the Rugby World Cup 2015. It was packed to the rafters with 27,411 supporters along with Princess Anne who was invited for her patronage to Transaid, to witness this exciting spectacle. It was a mammoth Premiership match from start to finish and you have to applaud both teams who fought tooth and nail, for the full 80, playing some exceptional rugby. Northampton trailed at half time, 13-17 due to a couple of line breaks by Chris Wyles who touched down and a monumental shift upfront by the Sarries forwards pack, in particular, Maro Itoje.  

With Billy Vunipola leaving the field with a sprained ankle, I thought this added to

the shift in momentum that favoured Saints. They developed a sprightly spring in their

step and their work rate went off the Richter scale. Samu Mano bulldozed over the line to the roar of Stadium MK and MOTM Myler held his nerve and managed to slot six penalties to clinch the 25-20 victory. A tough game for both teams but a well fought battle that I thoroughly enjoyed. 

And I’m sure many London Welsh fans enjoyed their 10-7 lead at half time against Leicester Tigers at Welford Road. I read a handful of Tweets from Tigers fans saying they were playing dreadfully on home turf. Well, they managed to turn it around in the final forty after Richard Cockerill’s stern words as Laurence Pearce dotted down twice in quick succession as the tide began to turn for the East Midlands side.  To the relief of all those supporters at Welford Road, the Tigers managed to secure that all important, 38-17 bonus-point win. History states that Leicester haven’t missed out on a play-off place since 2004. I feel they’re clinging on with hope and have been for sometime now.  I’m not so sure this side deserve or has what it takes this year – not after their long ‘no try’ run earlier in the year and their performance against Saracens a fortnight ago.  There’s such a vast difference between the expansive game of rugby the top three teams and Chiefs and Wasps are playing compared to the rest of the Premiership in my opinion. I think Leicester will struggle as we begin to sprint this last leg of the marathon.  I will watch their next match with anticipation, when they meet Wasps.

Sale’s top six hopes were somewhat shattered on Saturday when Harlequins arrived in style and quashed any chance of that happening; with four tries from the visitors in the first half alone. Their spirit and drive really shone first half as they took an extremely comfortable 22-6 lead.

However, the only points Quins managed to add to the tally in the second half came courtesy of a penalty from the boot of Nick Evans as Sharks took the reigns and steered the match to within a two point difference, 23-25.  An outstanding bounce back through sheer determination. But it was so near yet so far for the home side who tried to claw their way back into the game and by gosh they put up a strong fight but really, Quins deserved the win. I think Quins have played as individuals rather than a team this season, but on this occasion it was a wholehearted team contribution right through from one to fifteen.

Welcome back Quins!

Well…Wow Gloucester, just wow!! If last week wasn’t enough ‘edge of yer seat’ action against the Chiefs then a visit by Newcastle Falcons to Kingsholm was certainly going to stir things up, especially when the visitors got on the front foot early doors and lead 27-13 at half time. Drastic measures were needed if the Cherry and Whites wanted to close the gap and all of a sudden they sprung into action with the likes of the incredible Henry Purdy and Billy Twelvetrees dotting down and with four tries scored - were Gloucester home and

dry? Well Billy Burns made sure of it in the dying moments of the game to the relief of the home crowd to just scrape the 42-40 win. Kingsholm loves a good cliff-hanger.  A sigh of relief all round! 

A scintillating Sunday showdown in the sun saw the Cowboys meet the Chiefs at the Coventry Ricoh.   A brilliant solo try by scrum-half Joe Simpson helped Wasps to a 36-29 win over Exeter; but a last-minute drop-goal by Gareth Steenson secured what could be a vital losing bonus point for the Chiefs. Although the first half was open and high tempo, there was too much kicking and not enough chasing up from Exeter in my opinion and Wasps went into the break leading 26-16, thanks to a try from Christian Wade, a penalty try and points from the boots of Andy Goode and Elliot Daly. Exeter’s points came from a Will Chudley try and successful kicks from Henry Slade. The second half was kicking ping-pong, until Simpson’s match-winning try.  The ping-pong gave him the opportunity to be honest. Chiefs, if you want that top 4 place, you must be more creative under pressure!

The real crux will be as we head into round 21 because at the moment, only nine points separate second and sixth place – it’s still going down to the wire!

I can’t wait, especially for the clash between Wasps and Leicester!

Round 20 Results:

Bath 43-18 London Irish

Gloucester 42-40 Newcastle Falcons

Leicester Tigers 38-17 London Welsh

Northampton Saints 25-20 Saracens

Sale Sharks 23-25 Harlequins

Wasps 36-29 Exeter Chiefs

Aviva Premiership Table

Pos

Team

P

W

D

L

BP

Points

1

Northampton Saints

20

15

1

4

9

71

2

Bath

20

14

0

6

10

66

3

Saracens

20

13

1

6

8

62

4

Leicester Tigers

20

13

1

6

6

60

5

Exeter Chiefs

20

12

0

8

11

59

6

Wasps

20

11

1

8

11

57

7

Sale Sharks

20

10

0

10

9

49

8

Harlequins

20

10

0

10

8

48

9

Gloucester

20

8

1

11

9

33

10

London Irish

20

7

0

13

9

37

11

Newcastle Falcons

20

4

1

15

10

28

12

London Welsh

20

0

0

20

1

1

By Rhiannon Chandler-Day

@RhiannonCDay

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

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