Over this past weekend, we saw teams battle it out for the bragging rights of the West Country, the East Midlands and the North. There were near wins that got stolen (cough EXETER CHIEFS cough), standout perfomances on premiership debuts and many tries.
Bath vs Bristol Bears:
At The Rec, we saw Bath claim a narrow victory over the Bears, 20-19, as the two teams kick off the Gallagher Premiership’s derby weekend. In the first half, we saw Bath in control but after the break, Bristol stormed back. Despite the rather wet conditions, the ball was thrown aimlessly around the pitch in both halves and both teams missed “kick-able” extra points. Finn Russell scored a penalty from in-front of the posts in the 70ith minute, ensuring Bath the victory. An outstanding night for player of the match, Ollie Lawrence (Bath’s centre) as his combination of speed and power made him an almost unbeatable player.
Saracens vs Harlequins:
Saracens proved this Saturday that they are contenders for the cup with a 38-10 win over Harlequins at The Stoop. It wasn’t just a derby but a derby demolition as the defending champions (Saracens) scored a whopping 6 tries and fly-half, Owen Farrell, converted 4. The Quins’ 4-match winning streak came to a halt as the Sarries plundered on with their seventh victory over Harlequins. Not only did the Quins lose the match, they also lost James Chisholm to a yellow card for dangerous play late in the game. Player of the match was awarded to Sarries’s lock, Maro Itoje, for his creativity, athleticism and lineout brilliance.
Exeter Chiefs vs Gloucester:
The Chiefs snuck in a victory at home (Sandy Park) against Gloucester as Henry Slade hit a dramatic penalty to steal the win from the Cherry and Whites with just a few minutes to go before end whistle. Before this, the Chiefs were trailing by 9 points but Chief’s Stu Townsend leapt over a ruck to score with gave his centre a straighforward conversion, cutting the lead to two. Then Henry Slade happened. Albert Tuisue hit Rusi Tuima, but Jack Clement found head-to-head contact with the Chiefs lock and spent two minutes in the sinbin, early on in the match. Welsh Wizard, Joe Hawkins, earned player of the match as his turnover helped spark the Chiefs’ comeback on his premierhship debut.
Sale Sharks vs Newcastle Falcons:
The Battle of the North saw the outcome of Sharks conquering the Falcons, with a 40-22 victory at home (AJ Bell Stadium) after surviving a second-half comeback. Sharks were made to work hard infront of their fans but accepted the challenge by converting two late tries. Comapred to Sale’s winning streak of 3, Newcastle has a losing streak of 6, making them bottom of the table. It staretd so well for the Falcons when Louis Brown crossed the line in the corner, just three minutes into his Premiership debut but this lead only lasted ten minutes as Arron Reed drew the Sharks level. The Falcons were threatening in the second half as two tries were scored within three minutes of each other but the Sharks were able to keep a lead. Player of the match was Rob du Preez who scored one try and assisted two others and was also named top performing player this week.
Leicester Tigers vs Nothampton Saints:
The Tigers led for the majority of the match but Saints did prove a worthy opponent. The bragging rights of the bitter East Midlands were awarded to the Tigers after a crushing victory of 26-17 at home (Mattioli Woods Welford Road). Tries from the Boks duo Francois van Wyk and Hanro Liebenberg complemented 16 points from the boot of Handre Pollard. Saints attempted to play the attacking rugby that makes them a stand-out team in the premiership but the Tigers gave no room to breathe. Tommy Reffell and Handre Pollard played terrific all match and were very problematic to the Saints. Northampton managed more metres and clean breaks than Leicester but any team who concedes 17 turnovers and 20 penalties is rarely going to recover. Tommy Reffell was awarded player of the match after proving to be a menance to the Saints.