Round 6 of the Aviva Premiership arrived in town with a lot of pressure heaped on a number of sides’ shoulders. As we all know it was the final outing before the second European break and therefore it was the last chance for teams to cement or improve their table position. Without question the Exeter Chiefs’ performance at the Ricoh Arena was the standout of the weekend, albeit marred by Henry Slade’s injury, and elsewhere Gloucester and the Saints pushed their way to key victories.
The round opened on Friday night at Kingsholm where David Humprehys’ side used every ounce of their home advantage to deliver a victory over the Sale Sharks. Arguably Sale played the better rugby with their young players excelling and turning heads. Nev Edwards, who is taking his late shot at Premiership Rugby with both hands, scored two tries and although he made a few errors delivered handsomely for the Sharks. Sam James continued to show flair and charisma, Mike Haley showed us all why he has made the most metres in the Aviva Premiership so far and Josh Beaumont was forceful from 8.
That said Gloucester’s Sione Kalamafoni had a day to remember and ultimately proved to be the difference. A few eyebrows where raised when Ben Morgan was left out, however Kalamafoni more than filled the boots of the England back rower. For David Humprehys this match was all about the result while for the Sharks it will compound the frustration that they felt going into Round 6. Man Of The Moment: Gloucester Rugby’s Sione Kalamafoni. Full Time: Gloucester Rugby 23 Sale Sharks 19
At The Stoop Harlequins maintained their six year home unbeaten record against London Irish thanks to three tries from Tim Visser and a captain’s outing from Danny Care. The scrum-half will have certainly caught the eye of one, important member of the crowd, as he effervesced and led the home team with a smile on his face. Harlequins dominated the set piece and in all honesty every aspect of the match. Prior to kick off London Irish lost captain Matt Symons to illness and while they will have been pleased to have kept Quins try-less in the opening 30 minutes they didn’t have the legs to stem the tide any longer. Alex Lewington again stood out however it wasn’t a day to remember with their head coach admitting ‘there’s not a lot we can take out of that… we were totally outclassed.” Men of the Moment: Tim Visser & Danny Care. Full Time: Harlequins 38 London Irish 7
At Sixways the home crowd were left disappointed after such a promising and bright start to the match. The opening half was all about the Worcester Warriors with Dean Ryan’s side winning the collisions and owning the territory battle. The result was a thoroughly deserved 17-0 lead however they then suffered at the hands of Wayne Barnes. Donncha O’Callaghan’s second yellow meant that he saw red and then a card to Gareth Milasinovich left the Warriors with just 13 on the field. The Leicester Tigers capitalised, they were spurred by Tom Young’s work in the loose and as they sharpened up their game the points arrived. Telusa Veainu continued to excel, his solo try, again highlighted what a great signing he is and then another card influenced the outcome. Matt Cox went to the bin, the Tigers gained the penalty try, and the final dagger blow was Lachlan McCaffrey’s score. The final result equalled Leicester’s largest ever come back in their 135 year history and broke Worcester supporters’ hearts. Man of the Moment: Tom Youngs. Full Time Worcester Warriors 29 Leicester Tigers 20
Bath Rugby hosted the Northampton Saints at the Recreation Ground and it was a game that neither side could afford to lose. The story of this match was the scrummage, referee Craig Maxwell Keys took exception to Bath Rugby’s output and as a result that provided Northampton Saints the platform to gain points from. It infuriated the home crowd, and Mike Ford, and ultimately proved to be the difference. Kieran Brookes is really showing the fruits of his very hard fitness labour during England’s Rugby World Cup camp and personally I believe that is pushing himself into the number one spot in terms of International reckoning. On the other side Bath’s precision still isn’t there, their errors were infectious and George Ford, their central glue, had a sticky day at the office. It was a must win match for Saints that pushes them up the table while Bath Rugby remain in a very unfamiliar position in ninth place. Man Of The Moment: Kieran Brookes. Full Time: Bath Rugby 11 Northampton Saints 13
The Ricoh Arena witnessed 68 points in and 9 tries in total. The Exeter Chiefs found a Wasps’ weakness early and boy did they exploit it to great effect. The Chiefs’ driving maul was fruitful and tremendously powerful delivering the side with the bonus point after just 34 minutes. Frank Halai’s score just before the half-time whistle was absolutely critical for Wasps to feel that they had any chance of pushing back and when Ashley Johnson bulldozed over shortly after the break the game had a different perspective. That said you had the sense that this was a match that the Chiefs simply weren’t going to lose. Instead it was another very large statement from their pack and Rob Baxter’s me romped home to victory. The only cloud over the fixture was the horrendous leg injury to Henry Slade, Henry has such a bright future ahead of him and it pains us all to see him out of the game for any length of time. Needless to say everyone at Fifteen wishes him the speediest of recoveries. Man Of The Moment: Exeter’s pack. Full Time: Wasps 27 Exeter Chiefs 41
Kingston Park hosted the final game of the weekend between Saracens and the Newcastle Falcons. The opening half was dominated by kick tennis and points from the tee and in all honestly it wasn’t the most enthralling half however sometimes that is what it takes to win matches. Saracens continued ticking along in the second half and the match looked to be reaching a pedestrian end before Charlie Hodgson rolled back the years with an interception try and the game found a little spark! Saracens then had their wits about them and decided to go for the bonus point – with the time in red they calmly ran it the full length of the field and Bilky Vunipola bulldozed over to secure the bonus point try. Man Of The Moment: Charlie Hodgson. Full Time: Newcastle Falcons 3 Saracens 38
By Emma Thurston
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