So there you have it, we have completed the first block of Aviva Premiership fixtures and now all of our sides will commence their preparations for their European adventures in either the Champions or Challenge Cups.
Round 4 provided some sides with confidence boosting wins however for others it didn’t quite deliver the platform that they would have wanted. Across the country we saw tries scored and tries disallowed, plenty of big hits as well as a few cards of the yellow and red variety. So, without further introduction let’s dive into the Aviva Premiership Round 4 review.
On Friday night the Twickenham Stoop turned on its floodlights as Harlequins hosted the Sale Sharks. The Sale Sharks will be disappointed to have left London with only one point and not the full four points that you get for a victory. Sale dominated the opening half courtesy of the masterful kicking out of hand of Danny Cipriani. Danny’s crossfield kick set up Dan Braid for the opening score and pushed Sale into the right areas of the field at all times. After the break the highly experienced Nick Evans showed his box of kicks delivering his own pinpoint crossfield kick and kicking perfectly off the tee. Nev Edwards turned heads on his Aviva Premiership debut managing his nerves well after having a long road to that point and the Sharks’ academy graduate Sam James delivered his second score in as many fixtures. In spite of both of their good work the Sharks just couldn’t finish the job as Danny Cipriani’s radar struggled missing a final penalty and drop goal effort and Harlequins breathed a sign of relief. Full Time Harlequins 16 Sale Sharks 14. Man of the Moment Harlequins’ Nick Evans
The Madjeski Stadium witnessed a drama fest as London Irish lost by 14 points to 45 against Bath Rugby. It was a tempestuous affair with a particularly potent period in the opening half; Matt Garvey was yellow carded for pulling down the maul and a penalty try was awarded to London Irish. However after the TMO’s intervention both decisions were reserved and the Exiles’ Brendon McKibbin was given red for connecting his foot with the head of Henry Thomas. Try exchanges from Oli Devoto and Scott Steele left the game precariously poised going into the break, however Irish were dealt a further blow when Steele left the field with a serious injury meaning they had to complete the game without any specialist scrum half. After half time Bath scored 14 unanswered points and exploited their advantage, Irish worked hard for their consolation score however just couldn’t cope. It was a confidence boosting win for Bath Rugby after a very tough week off the field however London Irish remain winless in the opening four rounds. Full Time London Irish 14 Bath Rugby 45. Man of the Moment Bath Rugby’s Chris Cook
Come May 2016 how important will this Round 4 victory be for the Worcester Warriors over the Newcastle Falcons? That is the question that many of us are already pondering on in spite of there being a lot of rugby still to play before May 2016. The Warriors did the damage in the first half with four converted tries including two from new man Bryce Heem. Indeed there were just three points scored in the second forty and they were from the boot of Falcons’ Tom Catterick. Dean Richards’ described his side’s defence as ‘woeful’ in the opening half and watching his side fall off tackles and lose their defensive of shape will frustrate the Director of Rugby as much as their ill discipline. In contrast the Warriors were well organised and composed however Dean Ryan will have something to say about the fact that they didn’t truly press on in the second after a positive opening half. Full Time Worcester Warriors 28 Newcastle Falcons 20. Man of the Moment Bryce Heem
After scoring 19 points against the Northampton Saints in this fixture back in May, Owen Farrell continued to hurt Jim Mallinder’s side slotting everything off the tee and providing Saracens with their fourth victory of the season. The visitors totally spoiled the opening party for the new Barwell stand with their trademark defensive intensity that stifled the home side. By all accounts this match was far from being a vintage classic, instead it was a dogged eighty minutes with plenty of bite. Tom Wood had a industrious performance in Saints’ back row and on the other side Maro Itoje continued to remind us all of his immense talent. Maro moved from the back row to the second row and played both positions with proficiency and intensity far beyond his years. Saints had plenty of brawn but not quite enough invention to bang down Saracens’ defensive brick wall and Jim Mallinder has a spot to ponder on before starting their European adventures next weekend. Full Time Northampton Saints 6 Saracens 12 Man of the Moment Saracens’ Owen Farrell
At Sandy Park the Exeter Chiefs recorded their first win over the Leicester Tigers since the 2011/12 season. The Chiefs’ captain Gareth Steenson had a sensational match scoring all of his side’s points and being instrumental in their victory. Had Adam Thompstone’s try been allowed on 33 minutes then the game might have taken a different turn, however the TMO deemed him to have knocked on and the Chiefs slotted another penalty before the break. For the visitors Telusa Veainu looks like a fine signing as he caused issues from full back however as a collective they didn’t have enough cut through to topple the Chiefs. Richard Cockerill was harsh on his side after full time saying that they were ‘beaten physically’ and that their ‘egos’ were bruised and they’ll need to brush themselves off before hosting Stade Francais Paris on Friday night in the Champions Cup. In contrast the Exeter Chiefs are flying, they’re confident and enjoying life sitting second in the early Aviva Premiership table. Full Time Exeter Chiefs 19 Leicester Tigers 6. Man of the Moment Exeter Chiefs’ Gareth Steenson
At the Ricoh Arena Wasps‘ recorded their second victory of the opening four rounds against the Cherry and Whites. Gloucester Rugby had a tough opening half and went into the back 0-16 down failing to score a point in a half for first time since October 2011. The moment of the opening forty was a beautiful combination between Wasps’ backline as Wade, Piutau and Daly showed us their pace and hands. Indeed Elliot Daly had a stellar game, showing the full range of his powerful boot and his talent moving forwards. After the break David Halaifonua saw red for what referee Ian Tempest and his TMO described as a ‘high swinging arm however credit to Gloucester who showed great go forwards even with a man down. The drama continued until the very end as with 7 minutes to go Lorenzo Cittadini received a red card for a over zealous reaction towards Billy Twelvetrees mid breakdown however no further points were scored. It was a game that centred around two moments of drama and that was slightly spoiled by the inclement weather at the Ricoh Arena. Full Time Wasps 23 Gloucester Rugby 3. Man of the Moment Wasps’ Elliot Daly
|Aviva Premiership Table – Round 4|
By Emma Thurston
To see more from Emma, visit Out On The Full