Rhiannon’s Premiership Roundup – Bath secure home semi, Saracens out of top 4

This weekend of Aviva Premiership action was always going to be tantalising, tough and telling in this penultimate round of rugby before the play-offs and there were definitely a few unexpected outcomes in my opinion that really has thrown the Premiership table into a spin. 

Bath managed to secure a home semi-final position under the #FridayNightLights at the Stoop after a tight 26-27 win over Quins.   Mike Ford can now finally breathe a sigh of relief after his side managed to become victorious against the Harlequins – the first time at the Stoop since 2004.  But it wasn’t all plain sailing with both sides overtaking each other on the board throughout the night.  The adrenaline in the stands and on the pitch was definitely pumping.  But the night belonged to the man of the moment who retired from rugby after thirteen years and has become BT Sport Rugby’s fashionista Pundit … the one and only, Ugo Monye.  Conjuring up a stunning spectacle for his finale too, scoring two fantastic tries!  A more than memorable achievement to honour his time at Harlequins. 

As for Bath, they face Gloucester now at the Rec but with nothing at stake apart from West-Country bragging rights, will Mike Ford put a fierce first team out? Hmm, we shall see! 

Northampton managed to hold London Welsh at arms’ length on Saturday.  The reigning Premiership Champions conceded no points and actually whipped up six tries in total, with Lee Dickson and Luther Burrell scoring two a piece and Ahsee Tuala and Jamie Ellliot one each, securing the bonus-point win.

This 46-0 victory means Northampton Saints have finished the 2014/15 season League leaders of the Premiership for the first time in club history. What an achievement!  They now face Leicester Tigers at Welford Road in the second-leg

of this East-Midlands Derby next week before their home semi-final. 

The question is; Will DoR Jim Mallinder rest or play his best players on 16th May,

knowing they have a confirmed home semi-final a week later?  Tough decision.

The game of the weekend for me was the brutal instalment at the Ricoh Arena

between Wasps and Leicester Tigers, witnessed by 32,019.   My money was on a Wasps win from the outset but I was left speechless after an incredibly physical

performance, Fort Knox defence and boisterous battle upfront from Tigers. This wasn’t the Leicester anyone had witnessed this season!  What had changed?    Luckily for Wasps, it was the boot of Andy Farrell who slotted seven penalties and one from Alex Lozowski to keep them in the game.  But even with Seremaia Bai red carded for a dangerous tackle on Nathan Hughes, it wasn’t enough to stop the ferocious fourteen in the Tigers pack. 

And with this 21-26 win, have Leicester done enough to secure a play-off position? Not quite. They have to win against Northampton Saints at Welford Road next Saturday.   And Cockers has assured me, morale is high in camp going into this crucial game.   Fireworks guaranteed?

Well there definitely were on Sunday at Allianz Park.  This was always going to be a humdinger but by gosh, weren’t Rob Baxter’s men absolutely defiant?  The Exeter Chiefs challenged a confident Saracens front row and camped on their try line, pummelling their defence, with Toot Toot Thomas Waldrom trucking over twice, along with Luke Cowan-Dickie for a third try.  That didn’t stop Saracens sublime back line from responding and a sensational cameo between Chris Wyles and David Strettle saw Wyles cross the line with ease along with Chris Ashton right under the posts.  But even with Gareth Steenson and Charlie Hodgson trading penalties, Exeter just had the edge.  A performance of a top four team? I’d say so after this 20-24 victory away from home. 

It all hangs in the balance now for Exeter as they welcome Sale Sharks to Sandy

Park, next weekend.  Well done Rob Baxter and good luck Chiefs!

Gloucester have nothing to lose next weekend at the Rec and Bath will know they’ll be wanting those West-Country Derby bragging rights after they gave a punchy performance against London Irish on Saturday, 35-13.  London Irish went to Kingsholm to redeem themselves after their 9-21 loss last year to the Cherry and Whites at the Madejski but they stumbled and didn’t manage to find their feet in front of this packed crowd.   Gloucester’s unique brand of raw rugby has seen them really come into their own of late.  I can’t wait to see them in action again next season, this team are thrilling to watch live and have so much to offer.

As do Sale Sharks, who beat Newcastle Falcons 34-28 in what was Mark Cueto’s last home game for the Sharks, after announcing his retirement.  A fantastic note to end on and an incredible career to celebrate too.  Sharks will head to Sandy Park with confidence on Saturday and could possibly cause chaos in the Premiership if their defence is anything to go by.  Exeter need to win at home next weekend and I imagine all eyes will be on the boots of Gareth Steenson and Danny Cipriani respectively.

Wow!  Could it be anymore nail biting? 

No!!

This time next week, we will be talking about our top four Aviva Premiership sides who will go head-to-head. 

Until then …..

Aviva Premiership Results:

Gloucester 35-14 London Irish

Harlequins 26-27 Bath

Northampton Saints 46-0 London Welsh

Sale Sharks 34-28 Newcastle Falcons

Saracens 20-24 Exeter Chiefs

Wasps 21-26 Leicester Tigers

Aviva Premiership Table

Pos

Team

P

W

D

L

BP

Points

1

Northampton Saints

21

16

1

4

10

76

2

Bath

21

15

0

6

10

70

3

Leicester Tigers

21

14

1

6

6

64

4

Exeter Chiefs

21

13

0

8

11

63

5

Saracens

21

13

1

7

9

63

6

Wasps

21

11

1

9

12

58

7

Sale Sharks

21

11

0

10

10

54

8

Harlequins

21

10

0

11

9

49

9

Gloucester

21

9

1

11

9

47

10

London Irish

21

7

0

14

9

37

11

Newcastle Falcons

21

4

1

16

11

29

12

London Welsh

21

0

0

21

1

1

By Rhiannon Chandler-Day

@RhiannonCDay

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

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