Well that’s the season kicked off with a bang. A hat trick of hat trick of tries and two half centuries. Here is a look at how accurate my predictions were and my thoughts from the first round.
First up how did the predictions go?
I got 5 right out of 6 and the only one I got wrong the bookies got right. So basically it went to form but there were still plenty of talking points.
Saints 53 v 6 Gloucester
Clearly a bad night for Gloucester, but I thought that David Humphreys, the Gloucester coach, got it right:
"After the first six games of the season we will be in a much better position to assess where we are and where we can aspire to be."
I don’t think that you can draw too many conclusions yet, this was one of those perfect storms. It was away, with new combinations, against the champions from last year who want to prove there is no hangover.
For Saints it’s a great start to the season and more evidence that they should be at the sharp end come the end of the season.
The away thing is one to come back to, it’s not just the support and noise of the crowd but also the travelling. You only have to look at Team Sky the cycling team who travel with their own mattresses to see that it definitely has an effect. We can see these marginal gains coming into rugby for example Exeter have a new GBP400K coach for the team to travel in to away games. Yes it’s a chunk of cash but if players can arrive at games fresher and start to recuperate on the way home, they will play better.
Irish 15 v 20 Quins
A real game of two halves and. Neither team will be happy after this. Quins are the only one if the “big 4” not to get the TBP. Also the discipline needs to be greatly improved, teams better than Irish will really punish you with 2 players in the bin.
For Irish at least they got the LBP but no tries, especially with the numerical advantage, will be a worry going forwards.
Leicester 36 v 17 Newcastle
Tigers get the bonus point win and have some early season rustiness, nothing much learnt there. Well that’s not entirely true, Mr Burns appears to be settling in to his new home just fine.
The interesting side though is Newcastle, they got across the whitewash twice which was a big struggle last year. Defensively also much better keeping Tigers try less for the first half. Was this upping game against Leicester as all teams do or an improvement on last season that they can do consistently? Time will tell.
Saracens 34 v 28 Wasps
Saracens had enough but only just. They walk away with the bonus point win but they needed a last minute try. As they say that getting the result whatever is the sign of champions and making sure they get these kind of results is what they will need to get there.
Wasps will be disappointed having got back into this game but it’s a performance that promises more to come. The question with them is how they cope later in the season with squad depth and fatigue.
Sale 20 v 29 Bath
Bath will be happy with the win but know they need to do better. This sounds like it was an extra preseason game for the two clubs. Sale will be ruing their ill discipline and especially execution, they were 1 forward pass from winning this. That’s how tight this one was, even if the final scoreline had a bigger gap.
Welsh 0 v 52 Exeter
Exeter get past this banana skin with style. They are top of the table but that doesn’t mean much this early. What they will be happy with is how well the new and academy players have fitted in.
All the talk from Welsh before this game was about how many players from the promoted side are still there, but they still had 9 debutantes. If there were any doubts about how hard this season is going to be they were smashed. The Welsh coach Justin Burnell talked about missed tackles being personal not team issues, but when you’re comfortable with the team, you can concentrate more on your own stuff. So basically this team need to click quick, especially on the defensive side or it’s going to be a very long season.