It’s fair to say that there were fewer twists and turns in Round 14 than we’ve seen in other rounds however we still witnessed a solid weekend of domestic action alongside the RBS 6 Nations Championship.
The story of the weekend has to be Wasps’ thrashing of Harlequins at the Ricoh Arena and without question Dai Young’s side are the team to beat. Elsewhere Leicester and Gloucester both bounced back from defeats, Northampton and Exeter gained home victories and there were points galore in Manchester. As always let’s take the time to look back over the full weekend of Aviva Premiership action.
At the AJ Bell Stadium Sale and Saracens were embroiled in a thrilling encounter the delivered 72-points in total. The home side raced to a 16-0 lead and it looked as if Steve Diamond’s men would blow the visitors away with their free-flowing rugby. But, 22 unanswered points later Saracens were back in the game and they even managed to negate Charlie Hodgson leaving the field due to injury. Once again Danny Cipriani struggled off the tee only making 4 from 8 while Ben Spencer stepped up to the mark well for Saracens. The result means that Sale’s 2016 home record remains in tact but Steve Diamond will put a few choice words to his squad about their inability to maintain their form and again ask his fly-half to get back on the practice field. Full Time Sale Sharks 36 – 36 Saracens
At Franklin’s Gardens Tom Collins’ hat-trick was instrumental in Northampton Saints securing a hard-earned victory over the Worcester Warriors. The Warriors led at half-time and again with 25 minutes to go however Dean Ryan highlighted that their own ‘error count’ contributed to their own downfall and that disappointed him. It was Northampton’s second bonus-point win at home in a row and importantly key individuals like Luther Burrell are playing with a smile on their face again and that is of vital importance to their progressing over the coming weeks. Full Time: Northampton Saints 38 – 18 Worcester Warriors
Kingsholm witnessed the kind of reaction that they wanted to see after Gloucester’s Round 14 defeat against Saracens. Prior to kick-off Newcastle were dealt a hammer blow as Andy Goode withdrew from the squad and it has to be said he was greatly missed. Gloucester started with purpose and opening-half tries from Billy Meakes, James Hook and Ross Moriarty did the damage with Willi Heniz having a head-turning day at scrum-half. Falcons made the Cherry and Whites wait for their bonus-point score but in the end it arrived on 75 minutes. The visitors will mark the fixture as a blip on their radar and can’t let it disrupt them with Worcester coming to town on Friday while Gloucester badly needed the victorious platform ahead of facing Wasps on Saturday. Full Time: Gloucester Rugby 32 – 6 Newcastle Falcons
In recent years Bath have been Exeter’s bogey team but on Saturday afternoon the hosts got over that hurdle and delivered the victory. Early on it looked as if it was going to be a stroll in the park as Exeter raced to a 16-0 lead and Bath were like rabbits in the headlights. In fairness the visitors re-grouped well with Amanaki Mafi’s two tries just before, and after, half-time giving them a new lease of life. Max Lahiff’s sin-bin knocked the wind out of Bath’s sails and after competitive finish Kai Horstmann was the hero of the hour for the home side with the match-winning try. Few individuals need mentioning here, Gareth Steenson pushed himself over 1,000 Premiership points, James Short continued his electric form and Dave Ewers got a solid 60 minutes of rugby under his belt. For the visitors Matt Banahan’s efforts have to be applauded as he carried the side but not for the first time they were their own worst enemies and still remain a shadow of their former selves. Full Time: Exeter Chiefs 26 – 17 Bath Rugby
Leicester Tigers ended their three-game losing streak with a seven-try victory over bottom of the table London Irish. Scores from Adam Thompstone, Harry Thacker, Lachlan McCaffrey and Jono Kitto delivered a comfortable 26-3 half-time lead and from there they pressed on. Leicester overpowered Irish in all facets of the game but to their credit the Exiles didn’t give up and instead scored three tries of their own. That said it all looks a little concerning for Tom Coventry and his squad, they are badly missing an assertive and experienced presence at fly-half and you can see that their confidence is slipping each week. For Leicester Harry Thacker and Tom Croft were key individuals and seeing their offloading game arriving back was a key plus point. Full Time: Leicester Tigers 47 – 20 London Irish
In the final game of the weekend Wasps again dished out another thumping to a Premiership rival and in doing so recorded their sixth successive domestic victory. Harlequins have been finding life without their key internationals tough and eighty minutes against Wasps didn’t ease things. Across the board Dai Young’s side were ruthless and shone; from Thomas Young’s fleetness of foot to Christian Wade’s try-saving tackle they played with a self-assurance that signals that their form is here to stay. Full Time Wasps 42 – 10 Harlequins
By Emma Thurston
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