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Aviva Premiership Roundup: Youngsters shine across the board

On an Aviva Premiership weekend in which the Great British elements did their best to ransack proceedings our hardy Aviva Premiership teams and fans triumphed. Due to the intensity of the season we are already seeing all of our Premiership sides making full use of their squads and this weekend a number of younger individuals thrived in the top tier of English club rugby.

 

On Friday night the Northampton Saints showed the strengths of their amply stocked forward pack against Gloucester Rugby. Over the summer Kieran Brookes and Paul Hill have both arrived to boost the squad and it was the former that excelled alongside two young men that have worked their way through the Saints ranks, Mike Haywood and Alex Waller. Their dominance resulted in Gloucester substituting Paddy McAllister after just 20 minutes and still the Cherry and Whites continued to come off second best. For much of the game neither side looked like scoring, instead they became entangled in a game of kick tennis, and Gloucester looked a little at sea in their backline. Victor Matfield’s appearance was a a highlight, an individual that will add so much to the development of the promising Michael Paterson and the more experienced Courtney Lawes and in the end Stephen Myler’s boot made Gloucester’s penalty count pay. Full Time Northampton Saints 15 Gloucester Rugby 3

 

At Twickenham Stadium Saracens again proved that they are the form team in the competition with a ruthless outing against the Worcester Warriors. Dean Ryan described it as a ‘sobering experience’ however at this moment in time few can handle the intensity that Saracens are playing at. Mark McCall had taken the opportunity to introduce a few of fringe players and Ben Spencer in particular grabbed his opportunity with both hands. Ben captained the LV squad last season and kicked the penalty to win the tournament therefore it wasn’t surprising to see him flourish on the Twickenham turf. The 23 year old set up Chris Ashton for the opening try of the day, scored one of his own and distributed superbly from 9. The Warriors showed exactly the type of character that we expect from them pushing until the end and earning two late tries for their endeavour. However the match belonged to the table toppers and sent another ominous message out to the rest of the field. Full Time Saracens 48 Worcester Warriors 18

 

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Tom Coventry hoped that running out at Twickenham Stadium would ‘add a little bit of flavour’ to his team’s performance and it did just that for the 15-33 scoreline belies their endeavour. The Exiles’ defence was stoic and made Wasps’ backline have to go through the gears in order to deliver their four tries. In attack the two youngest members of London Irish’s backline; Alex Lewington and academy member Johnny Williams led the charge. Alex threatened all day however it was Johnny that crossed twice to deliver tries in his third consecutive game for the Exiles. Wasps Charles Piutau continues to flourish and show his class while Nathan Hughes’ performances go from strength to strength and the Coventry based outfit are building nicely. Full Time London Irish 15 Wasps 33

 

At Sandy Park the Exeter Chiefsunbeaten home record was pushed to its limits against a Harlequins side that is determined to play and had an opportunity to take the game with a late Tim Sweil penalty. The two packs arm-wrested throughout and although Harlequins achieved a penalty try it didn’t reflect the rest of the contest as Moray Low was off the field being treated. Both sides are looking great going forwards, James Short continues to excel and Charlie Walker showed that anything Short can do he can do too. 21 points off Gareth Steenson’s boot underlies his value and assisted the Chiefs is prevailing after a slower opening half. At the end of the season this is likely to be one of the matches that Rob Baxter looks back on and circles as an important victory in the grand scheme of their playoff aspirations. Full Time Exeter Chiefs 26 Harlequins 25

 

Exactly like at Sandy Park the AJ Bell Stadium crowd enjoyed a dramatic finish Sales Danny Cipriani also had a last minute penalty to take the game. However after slotting his previous 5 kicks the final attempt didn’t find the target much to the fly-half’s annoyance. It won’t surprise you to hear that the conditions in Manchester weren’t conducive to attractive rugby and at times it did dampen the quality of the rugby. The Falcons’ defence looked much stronger than in previous weeks and their front row put in a good shift having done their homework on their opponents well. It wasn’t a day to fully judge either side however in Steve Diamond’s eyes the conditions aren’t an excuse and right now he is frustrated with his side. Full Time Sale Sharks 15 Newcastle Falcons 15

 

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The Leicester Tigers fought their way through biblical wind and rain at Welford Road to deliver their twelfth consecutive victory at home. It was a match in which Bath Rugby dominated possession and territory however shot themselves in the foot on multiple occasions and the home side clinically took their opportunities. The Leicester Tigers have signed individuals less well known to those that left them over the summer and their ‘new boys’ are excelling. Former Worcester Warrior Mike Williams thoroughly deserved his Man of the Match award and Telusa Veainu’s interception try proved to be a huge momentum shifter just before half time. Bath Rugby will have left Welford Road frustrated on a number of fronts, first for not converting their ample possession and attacking breaks into more points and second for turning down the final kick at goal to gain a losing bonus point. Plenty to think about for Mike Ford as they host the Northampton Saints next weekend while Leicester will be quietly content after avenging the side that beat them so handsomely on a number of occasions last year. Full Time Leicester Tigers 21 Bath Rugby 11

 

By Emma Thurston

To see more from Emma, visit Out On The Full

 

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