Championships aren’t won or lost in week one, but the tone certainly can be set! As week two of the Gallagher Premiership approaches there are no shortage of teams looking to build on impressive starts or get over initial stumbles. Here we preview what round 2 has to offer:
Northampton v Harlequins
Two of last seasons under achievers will be targeting this one and it might just be the 16th man that gets the Saints across the line. Quins will want to show that last week’s showing was no flash in the pan but they have struggled on the road of late. Northampton on the other hand will want to bounce back as a number of new stars and coaches make their home debut.
Wasps v Exeter – Can Lima Sopoaga get the impressive Wasps attack back on track?
One of, if not, THE standout fixture of the weekend has thrown up some real classics recently. Both looking to reclaim a top 4 spot in May, however, despite being away from Sandy Park it is difficult to look past Exeter. Typically Wasps’ brilliant counter attacking play has been a great foil to the Chiefs constant rolling waves of possession but with no Cipriani, Eastmond (transferred) and Gopperth (injured) running the attack against Worcester, they looked void of ideas. The impending debut of Lima Sopoaga will certainly help but it will take some time to bed in and an impressive showing is required to derail the Devonians.
Leicester v Newcastle – A turbulent week at Leicester as Geordan Murphy takes the reigns
On the plus side for Leicester – it’s unlikely that they’ll be any worse this week and in the wake of Matt O’Conner’s sacking, the only way is up for new director of rugby Geordan Murphy and his Tigers. He has one of the best backlines in the league at his disposal and if anyone can get them ticking it’s the Irishman, but the issue comes in getting them the ball. Many have said that the current Leicester pack doesn’t have the grizzle and bite of old, they missed 42 tackles against Exeter, and if there’s one team that will fight tooth and nail for every inch it’s Newcastle. The men from the Northeast will be buoyed by their performance (if not result) from week one and will be coming to Welford Road confident of showing why they clinched Leicester’s traditional place in the top four last year.
Saracens v Bristol
Bristol kicked off the 2018/19 season with a bang last week as they won the hearts of fans up and down the country. A trip to Allianz park at this stage of the season is effectively a free hit for the promoted side; Pat Lam won’t take the challenge lying down – but you’d be brave to bet against Sarries.
Bath v Gloucester
Coming in off the back of a ‘gold standard pre-season’ one-dimensional Bath will be very disappointed by their physical and mental performance at Ashton Gate. It’s another kind of gold they need to worry about this week, in the form of Danny Cipriani’s wrists. The England man showed why he has the potential to make headlines on the back of the paper as well as the front last week. He’ll be looking to guide the cherry and whites to a West Country derby win as they look to build on early promise.
Danny Cipriani unlocks the Northampton defence with one of the best passes ever seen.
Sale v Worcester
Sale are always a different prospect at home and they’ll be hoping that’s still the case after last weeks tanking at the Stoop. Worcester on the other hand performed admirably against heavily fancied Wasps and were unlucky not to get across the line. It’s difficult to see Sale being as bad and Worcester good.
Written By James Jones – 06/09/18