This weekend was a weekend made in rugby heaven as we enjoyed 240 minutes of exquisite RBS 6 Nations rugby and 480 minutes of top notch Aviva Premiership rugby. In the domestic competition some teams felt the impact of missing their esteemed internationals whilst others flourished without them, the weather held off and tries were the result… so let’s have a look at all of the weekend’s action;
As predicted it was a thriller at The Rec and we were treated to 55 points courtesy of 7 tries, 5 conversions and 4 penalties. It was the first game in a long time that Bath had to run out without their precocious talent George Ford however it didn’t matter as the home team recorded a bonus point victory regardless. Kyle Eastmond had another great shift and Nick Abendanon showed that he isn’t leaving the UK without a strong last hoorah! Wasps will be disappointed with the loss however they certainly delivered a much more confident and assured performance than in Round 14. Next weekend they head home to host Sale whilst Bath turn on their Friday Night Lights.
Simply sublime stadium (Image @Katelm76)
Kingsholm hasn’t been a happy place this season with more home defeats than any player or coach would care to admit to however on Saturday afternoon the smiles were back. Gloucester’s win was a fitting goodbye for their legend Andy Hazell who led the team out and was honoured at half time and equally for Captain Mike Tindall who celebrated his 200th Premiership appearance. Performance wise it wasn’t pristine but the confidence it will give the players is important as in Round 16 they head to fortress Franklin’s Gardens to take on the Northampton Saints. For Harlequins the loss won’t be wholly unexpected as they have been looking a little off colour without their international talents over the past few weeks. However there is no time to wallow in shelf pity as Conor O’Shea’s men are hosting Worcester next weekend and certainly will not want to become the first team that the Warriors beat this year.
At Sixways it was the visitors who took the spoils, as once against the Warriors came out on the wrong side of the score sheet. Sale were quickest off the blocks, led by their own Mr 200 Mark Cueto who scored an early try to mark his own Premiership milestone. Worcester fought back and they fought hard throughout however their false start cost them dearly. Both teams head down to the Big Smoke in Round 15 as mentioned Worcester will run out at The Stoop whilst Sale are off to Adams Park.
The Madjeski witnessed an emotional encounter as the Leicester Tigers came to town. London Irish’s recent run of form has been superb however they faltered slightly and let the Tigers race ahead. James O’Connor had a rare off day and left points begging however on a brighter note Marland Yarde came off the bench and looked as if he had never been away. Irish pressured right until the final minute however once again the Tigers did what they always do at the moment and won ugly.
Rob Baxter had asked for a reaction from his players and he certainly got one in the first 10 minutes of the match however sadly for the Chiefs it didn’t last for the full 80. Saracens weathered the early storm, re-grouped and worked hard to get themselves back into the game by half time. In the second it was the home team who had much of the possession and worked hard to gain the victory. The Chiefs looked more frustrated than ever and once again they need to dig deep before they return home to Sandy Park next weekend. Saracens continue to pressure the Saints at the top of the table and face a huge test underneath the Friday Night Lights of The Rec.
In the final match of the weekend the Northampton Saints started emphatically at Kingston Park as they scored 3 tries in the first half; notably two of them were from young James Wilson who has certainly made the 15 shirt his own since Ben Foden has been out injured. However the Falcons weren’t just going to lie down and hand the visitors the victory and for much of the second it was all about the home team. The Falcons battled hard and were rewarded with a try from speedster Noah Cato, the conversion was hugely significant as it secured them a vital losing bonus point. We all know that in the Aviva Premiership points mean prizes and that could be a particularly important one for them in the context of relegation/survival.
The Aviva Premiership continues to excite and delight us all… after Round 15 the table is slightly more clear cut however there is still everything to play for. It has been quite a colossal weekend of rugby so I suggest that you take a few days to rest and recuperate because it begins all over again on Friday night when Round 16 steamrollers its way into town!!