Nick Wood sees the red mist only 73 seconds in. Yarde scores a brace but gets punchy. Tattooed beast Banahan upsets Tigers winning start.
It feels like this weekend of Rugby Union will be forever remembered in the Record Books for how many times Referees have delved deep into their pockets. After Bismarck’s unfair dismissal against the imperial All Blacks, the Aviva Premiership saw a total of 8 Sin Bin’s and a Red Card this weekend with a few more that could have possibly been dished out.
Looking beyond the indiscipline and rather than seeking to pounce on any official that slips up, viewing the rugby on show over the past 3 days does cause a wry smile on the face of any avid English rugby follower. The terrific derby between Gold’s Bath and the injury stricken Tigers illustrated all the splendid and heart-pounding characteristics of the game. It included wonder Tries, Sin Bin’s, fight-backs and promising youthful talent. Parallel to this was; a tremendous battle in biblical conditions between Quins and Saints, a fight to the death down at Sixways, a trampling of the Cherry & Whites, a late Wasps comeback and a swooping boot to give Falcons the win.
Harlequins 6-13 Northampton Saints-
Two of the Premiership’s big guns went at it in the lugubrious conditions down in Twickenham. Saints went into the game after a convincing victory last week, whereas O’Shea’s side were fortunate to come out on top with a late Andy Goode strike that clattered against the post. A game that saw Evans’ boot hugely hampered by the weather, meant that Saints were able to sneak the victory with 3 successful kicks from Myler and a great finish from Full Back come Fly Half come Outside Centre, James Wilson, who in this case was in the 13 jersey. A Saints midfield without George Pisi prospered, as both Wilson and Burrell were the stand-out performers. The Back Row contest was evenly matched with average performances from Robshaw, Mo, Wood and Manoa. However both impact subs, Guest for Quins and Dickinson for Saints respectively looked sharp and will certainly be pushing for a starting place next week.
Saints were the more consistent side, so eventually came up trumps.
Tries- James Wilson (Northampton)
Key Player- Luther Burrell
Worcester Warriors 18-20 London Irish-
A new, revamped Worcester side with the same results. This match was marred by controversy with two key decisions going in the Reading based side’s favour. Worcester began with an extraordinary offload from Full Back Chris Pennell to put Lemi in for an early score. 10-3 up 35 minutes in, the Gold and Blues looked in control, but a superb Try from England star Marland Yarde allowed Irish to draw the score level. Yet, right after the Try was scored, Yarde didn’t take kindly to a slight shove from Ignacio Mieres and seemed to swing and collide with the Worcester 10. The Referee decided to let it go, probably unfairly to the Warriors and that became the turning point of the match. Yarde secured a double and a harsh call from Referee Tim Wigglesworth in the dying minutes of the game gave Humphreys the opportunity to secure a win for the Irish and with that, he did.
Worcester were the better team. Ruthlessness and questionable officiating let them down.
Dean Ryan- “It’s very difficult to talk about performance when you lose, especially when you lose a game that you had significant control of.”
Tries- David Lemi & Ignacio Mieres (Worcester), Marland Yarde x2 (London Irish)
Key Players- Marland Yarde & Chris Pennell
Exeter Chiefs 30-26 London Wasps-
London Wasps displayed an incredible work rate and a unique desire at Twickenham last Saturday and continued in the same vain this week. With the loss of Varndell in training, new signing from Bedford, Josh Bassett took the 11 jersey and certainly didn’t have an easy debut down at Sandy Park! The game began with kicks being exchanged from the boots of Andy Goode and Gareth Steenson. 14 minutes in, former Cardiff Blues Wing, well known by Dai Young of course went over the whitewash for a dazzling score. The game had a few sloppy passages of play and at HT Exeter went in 4 points up. Straight after the restart Goode missed a wonderful chance to put Bassett in for his first try with a forward pass and Scaysbrook soon added to Wasps woes after he crashed under the posts for his 6th ever Premiership try. Soon after, ace Tom James broke through the midfield and sprinted to slide over for Try number 2 of the day. 30-12 down Wasps looked down and out, however a quick response from Wade being put through by Ben Jacobs gave travelling fans a glimmer of hope. A late Try by Johnson who had earlier been dismissed to the bin after a high tackle, and a swift Conversion left Wasps with a Bonus Point. Consolation maybe, but Wasps results will come after promising performances from young, old, new and experienced.
Exeter pulled apart a new look Wasps defence, can’t wait to see Graham and Vanikolo in action for the Chiefs.
Tries- James x2, Scaysbrook (Exeter), Wade, Johnson (Wasps)
Key Player- Tom James
Bath 27-20 Leicester Tigers-
The double Ford combination looks to be a fabulous one for Bath and son George had a perfect opportunity to put his old mates to the sword. Bath looked the composed, clinical side parallel to a Tigers team that looked hugely thrown together, this was evident on the turf. Leicester after numerous mistakes, were intercepted by Joseph who pinned his ears back to run half the length of the field, opening his Try account. At the break Bath had looked to have secured the victory after Banahan also scored for the home side, Bath went in 21-3 after a first half to forget for Cockerill’s side having been reduced to 13 men. A rejuvenated Tigers responded with Mafi going over 8 minutes after the restart. After continuing to pile on the pressure Leicester racked up another 2 Try’s, the last a wonderful show of agility and footwork from out of position Vereniki Goneva. 27-20 at the Full Time whistle it was plain to see that Bath look like a Top 4 outfit this season and will push the likes of Harlequins and Saints for a Play-Off place.
Ford ran the show, indiscipline and injury woe resulted in a limping Tigers side.
Mike Ford- “To beat any side like Leicester that has nine Premiership final wins, you never knock that!”
Tries- Joseph, Banahan (Bath), Mafi, Slater, Goneva (Leicester)
Key Players- George Ford & Leroy Houston
Sale Sharks 14-15 Newcastle Falcons-
After suffering to the hands of Bath last week in unbearable conditions at Kingston Park, Falcons’ pack obviously benefited from a week off and the contest very much centred around the front 8. Even though Sale led for much of the game after Captain Braid scored around the 30 minute mark, it all boiled down to Scrum time with the Falcons on the handsome side of the Referee’s straight arm. Godman’s solid kicking meant that with 15 minutes left the score was 14-12 to the Sharks. As the game was drawing to a close the packs collided once again, Montanella, Brookes and co. standing up victorious. This allowed Rory Clegg to snatch the victory in what could be a key game.
Macleod wasn’t accurate enough with the boot. Falcons pack looked a completely different side to last week.
Tries- Braid (Sale)
Key Players- Ally Hogg & Franck Montanella
Saracens 44-12 Gloucester-
The second-fastest Red Card in the Premiership’s history is not something Nick Wood will gladly put on his CV. Jacques Burger, the recipient of 2 stamps to the head has forgiven Wood for his unnecessary antics. This set the tone for the rest of the game with Gloucester being unable to dent the defence of probably the league’s best side. Gloucester did manage to go in at the break 12-10 up thanks to some accurate kicking by Freddie Burns with only a real response from Joel Tomkins who broke through for a score. Yet, the second half illustrated Sarries one man advantage as David Strettle stormed over. As if the Cherry and Whites hadn’t suffered enough they had to endure 10 minutes without the expertise of Kalamafoni after he pulled down a Maul that pounded Gloucester 20m back. After Brits and Strettle added to the score sheet and secured the Bonus Point, Billy Vunipola, who had begun the game at Blind Side came off the back of a Scrum to finish the game. Saracens won the second half 34-0 and the game 44-12.
Saracens look like they are already firing on all cylinders. They already look to be Final contenders.
Nigel Davies- “Right now we’re in a tough place, but the boys won’t let their heads drop.”
Tries- Tomkins, Strettle x2, Brits, Vunipola (Saracens)
Key Player- Billy Vunipola
Numpty of the Week- Nick Wood. No words needed.
English Prospect- Marland Yarde. A brace of quality tries and he has room for improvement.
Foreign Class- Vereniki Goneva. The most defenders beaten so far and 2 tries to his name.