So the first full round of the LV= Cup is done and dusted. Here’s my review of how it went.
First up here’s a link to my predictions.
So how did the predictions go?
5 out of 8 is OK when you never know what teams are going to be selected. For example Exeter only had 1 name that was the same in their starting 15 from last week. Even so some good games and a record crowd for Exeter at their newly expanded ground.
Scarlets 7 v 24 Northampton Saints
Saints set the trend for the friday games using a dominant second half performance to win this one. It took Saints until the hour mark to stamp their authority on the scoreboard with the help of their bench. But then two tries in eight minutes sealed the deal and kick off this competition with two wins.
Saints took the lead in their group but Sale aren’t out of this yet and if Cardiff win next weekend will be applying pressure. Scarlets have to win next weekend and even then will find it hard to catch Wasps and Tigers.
Ospreys 9 v 21 Saracens
Saracens took the lead after just 5 minutes of this kicking contest in torrential rain and never relinquished the lead. Ospreys really need to sort out their discipline but especially at scrum time as this was a source of a lot of the Saracens penalties. You’re not going to win many games if you give away that many kickable penalties and there were a couple missed as well.
Saracens take the lead in the most competitive group with Bath and Gloucester on their heals. Ospreys need a win next weekend to have any hope of progressing.
Harlequins 31 v 21 Dragons
Quins battled back from a 13 point deficit at half time to win this one quite comfortably at the end. Dragons weren’t able to score a single point in the second half as they lost all territory by not being able to adapt to the refereeing and giving up 12 penalties to 1. Again a key aspect was an early spate of substitutions helping to get the win.
Quins kept themselves in this competition but are still playing catchup and will be hoping their London rivals Saracens can do them a favour by beating Exeter. Dragons are already looking out of this competition.
Newcastle Falcons 21 v 22 Cardiff Blues
Another come back win with Blues down by 14 points at half time able to shut out Flacons in the second half to squeeze home by just a point. A yellow card was the catalyst for Cardiff’s come back as so often if can be. But not for the first time this season Newcastle’s kicking let them down with two missed penalties late on that could have won it.
Falcons are now effectively out of this and Cardiff will need another good result next weekend to apply pressure on Tigers.
Exeter Chiefs 18 v 6 Bath Rugby
A good win for Exeter sees them take control of their group. This was a tight game with defences having most of the control. Considering that this was pretty much a first choice Exeter side there has to be some concern that they were losing this up to the hour mark. From there they pulled away with two tries but this Bath side made a good fist of it.
Bath are still in this competition and their group is bubbling up nicely with three teams within 3 points of each other.
Wasps 43 v 22 London Irish
Helped by a yellow card Wasps went on the rampage in the last 20 mins to keep themselves very much in this competition. After a close ding-dong of a first half, Irish had a slight lead that they extended with a penalty early in the second. But that’s as good as it got as the Irish academy youngsters succumbed and are now effectively out of this competition.
London Welsh 9 v 18 Gloucester Rugby
Welsh lost this kicking duel but even though there were a number of yellow cards in the first half went in even at the break. Gloucester managed to keep the scoreboard ditching over whilst it dried up for the Welsh. The good thing for Welsh though it that they were hard to beat, sure this wasn’t a first choice Gloucester side but you have to take the positives. Gloucester will be very happy with their youngsters and are still in this competition in what is the most competitive group.
Leicester Tigers 29 v 13 Sale Sharks
Tigers came back from a 10 point deficit at half time to win this one comfortably. This was another where a powerful second half performance won it, when Tigers scored 26 unanswered points. A real story of adapting to the opposition and a great tonic after the injury hit hard start to the season.
Sale can take some positives out of the last two weeks and even though I can’t see them catching Saints aren’t out of this competition yet.
There has been talk about this competition being “easy” silverware for the mid-ranked clubs. But if you look at the groups they are mainly being topped by the perennially successful sides, Saracens, Tigers and Saints. Last years champions Exeter are the only side to break up the big 4 homogeny.