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Aviva Premiership Round 12 Roundup

If we needed any further proof that this year’s Aviva Premiership is going to be the most competitive and open of them all then Round 12 delivered it. For the first time since the 2007/8 season the top 4 sides going into the round all lost and over the course of the 6 matches we witnessed some remarkable performances and results. 

 

The round started with Dean Richards’ Newcastle Falcons playing the Leicester Tigers off the park in the North East. This wasn’t a marginal victory, Newcastle played all of the rugby and were equally strong defensively. Openside flanker Nili Latu was everywhere, Andy Goode’s experience again was vital and their 11-point half-time cushion was well deserved. We all expected Leicester’s to deliver a huge second-half response however that never materialised. Instead, Newcastle continued to disrupt their opponents, focused and delivered the result. Without question the Falcons are the form side of the bottom three and if they continue performing at Round 12’s level then they’ll start climbing up the table and leave Worcester and London Irish behind. Full Time: Newcastle Falcons 26-14 Leicester Tigers

 

At the AJ Bell Stadium the Sale Sharks continued their rich vein of form and extended their unbeaten home record this season. The home side charged out of the blocks, tries from Johnny Leota, Nev Edwards and Mike Haley completed a sublime opening forty and pushed them to a 17-0 lead. With such a cushion you’d have expected them to press on however after the break the Chiefs turned the game on its head as they made the most of their 80% possession. Jack Yeandle and Dave Lewis both crossed however pleasingly for the home crowd Danny Cipriani’s radar calibrated itself and ultimately kept them out of trouble. Full Time: Sale Sharks 23-17 Exeter Chiefs

 

At Kingsholm Gloucester Rugby recorded their second victory in as many rounds by comfortably putting away Harlequins. The tone was set in the opening minute when Charlie Sharples cut through Quins’ porous defence and as a result gained a 5m scrum. Shortly after James Hook charged over and scored his first points of the day, he’d finish with a tally of 18. Gloucester took advantage of Ross Chisholm’s sin-bin and dominated all facets of the game in the opening forty. At 23-3 it looked ominous for Quins however pleasingly for Conor O’Shea his London side did show a spot of character after the break but nothing Gloucester couldn’t handle. That said, the holes left by Chris Robshaw, Danny Care, Joe Marler and Mike Brown were gapingly obvious and at the minute Harlequins are struggling to find their leadership and shape without them. Full Time: Gloucester Rugby 28-6 Harlequins

 

The team that Falcons pushed to the foot of the table with their victory, London Irish, didn’t have a good time of it against the Northampton Saints. From start to finish Jim Mallinder’s side dominated and as a collective his pack were outstanding. Scores from James Craig and Alex Waller bookended a first-half penalty try and that delivered them with a comfortable 21-0 half-time lead. After the break Saints upped the tempo in attack and their backs showed their worth. Lee Dickson enjoyed a profitable few minutes setting up Jamie Elliott and then scoring one of his own and with that the result was done and dusted. As the clock ran down the game broke up, London Irish did gain a late score it but it mattered little as the Exiles gave away too many penalties and never truly found their feet in the match. Full Time: Northampton Saints 35-7 London Irish

 

The finale at Sixways was, by far, the most dramatic of the weekend as Bath pulled back from 14-3 down to gain a 16-14 victory over a Worcester side that were just one place below them going into the game. For forty minutes it was all about the Warriors, the tries from Cooper Vuna & Donncha O’Callaghan were well worked and they looked to have the measure of their visitors. Bath were suffering from familiar issues with silly errors and a lack of true direction costing them however debutant Number 8 Amanaki Mafi was sensational. It was the introduction of Jonathan Evans that turned the game as Bath’s replacement scrum-half provided crisp service, a kicking game with clear direction and a vital try. Late on Worcester had their opportunities to take the match however Ryan Mills and Tom Heathcoate both pushed eminently kickable penalties wide and when the time was in the red Bath charged down two drop goal attempts. Eventually Bath’s gutsy defence wore down the hosts and last year’s runner-up ended their 6-game losing streak. Full Time: Worcester Warriors 14-16 Bath Rugby

 

 

The weekend finished with an astonishing match at Allianz Park as Wasps absolutely obliterated Saracens. The windy conditions meant that Dai Young’s side had to run everything  from the outset and the result was 3 tries in the opening 7 minutes. From one to 23 they excelled and oozed confidence. Nathan Hughes had a monstrous game, Dan Robson had a field day at scrum-half and the Piutau brothers marked their first professional match together in style. This wasn’t a weak Saracens side, far from it, however they were made to look like boys and will be feeling extremely sheepish today. Mark McCall’s response summed it up when he said ‘they gave us a lesson with and without the ball and we didn’t see that coming.’ It was an ominous reminder for the rest of the competition exactly what Wasps can do, the big question is can they back it up week-on-week? Full Time: Saracens 23-64 Wasps 

 

 

By Emma Thurston

To see more from Emma visit Out On The Full

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