It was another pulsating weekend in the Premiership as Exeter missed out on the opportunity to all but seal first place after Saracens had failed to beat Bristol on Saturday. Gloucester have now all but secured their play off spot and wins for Leicester and Bristol could go a long to securing their premiership status for next season. Below are some of the talking points from each of the fixtures.
Newcastle 22 – 27 Leicester
Come the end of the season this result may well have critical in terms of who goes down. The game served as a welcome reminder why relegation is so important to the Premiership as it means games like this which would be a dead rubber can provide the unbelievable entertainment which it did. Up until the 80th minute no one really knew which way this game was going to go. What could easily have been a game lacking in quality due to what was at stake it served up at least three contenders for try of the week. The performance from Tigers number 8 Guy Thompson not only meant he was the obvious man of the match but it was as good an individual performance from anyone this season or any other season. The win should mean the Tigers are still a Premiership side next season. Newcastle are left with it all to do but don’t write off Dean Richards and his side.
Man of the Match – Guy Thompson
Gloucester 27 – 23 Bath
Gloucester made it four wins on the bounce in the west country derby. Gloucester are now almost certain to make the play offs. Their recent good form which has seen cherry and whites record six wins in their last seven games means they could yet secure a home play off spot. Bath were excellent in the opening 25 minutes and raced into a 17 point lead but a score deep into first half stoppage time gave Gloucester the momentum needed to turn the game around. Some of the play making from both Danny Cipriani and Freddie Burns was wonderful. In the end Gloucester deserved the victory as Baths season starts to fizzle out. It will be interesting to see if Gloucester have made the strides required to not only partake in the play offs but to really challenge Exeter and Saracens.
Man of the Match – Danny Cipriani
Harlequins 19 – 20 Northampton
A real snatch and grab game as Northampton took home a surprise four points. This game didn’t have the same quality that some of the weeks other fixtures had but it did have a sting in the tail. Harlequins looked to have secured a crucial four points for themselves in their quest for a play off place. With little over two minutes on the clock and camped deep in their own 22, Quins decided to kick the ball back to Saints. Out of nowhere replacement scrum half Alex Mitchell sold a dummy then weaved his way over the line to silence the Stoop. The game unfortunately saw Nathan Earle pick up what looked like a serious injury. The result keeps alive Saints play off hopes and puts a dent in those of Quins who currently sit in fourth spot, the fight to secure it looks set to go all the way to the end of the season.
Man of the Match – Teimana Harrison
Worcester 39 – 17 Sale
Sale just were not at the races on Saturday afternoon, Steve Diamond smiled through a scathing assessment in his post match interview where he stated his Sharks didn’t want it enough. Worcester were very good and the result gives them a little breathing space over bottom club Newcastle. Josh Adams was in the kind of mood which he was in during the Six Nations with Wales and saw him grab a predatory second half hat trick. The Warriors don’t have the easiest of run ins but with two more games to go at Sixways Stadium they will be confident in getting the points required. Sales focus will now switch to the Challenge Cup semi final, maybe that was already in the minds of some players during this game.
Man of the Match – Josh Adams
Bristol 23 – 21 Saracens
This huge result probably secures Premiership rugby at Ashton Gate next season. Saracens recent poor form away from home was further compounded by this result and will need to be addressed if they are to secure a home play off game. Pat Lam stated after the game that he still harbours hopes of a top six finish and the return of Champions Cup rugby to Bristol for the first time since the 2007 – 08 season, although mathematically possible it does seem unlikely. Saracens were underwhelming and even the introduction of big hitters such as Billy Vunipola off the bench couldn’t turn the game in their favour as he endured boos from the Ashton Gate crowd in response to his recent activities on social media.
Man of the Match – John Afoa
Exeter 19 – 26 Wasps
A result which keeps Wasps very much in the hunt for the play offs could have been the result which secured first place for the Chiefs. It looked to be business as usual when Exeter led by twelve points after half an hour. A devastating ten minute spell by Wasps just before half time turned the game on its head when they scored three converted tries. One further try in the 60th minute put the game out of the reach of the Chiefs and secured an excellent result who will hope this is the catalyst for a run to the play offs and beyond. Exeter will attempt to secure first place as early as possible as they attempt to regain the Premiership title.
Man of the Match – Nathan Hughes
Written by Stefan Hamilton