We are now half way through the season and with at least 7 sides in with a decent chance of making the playoffs it should be an exciting second half too. Here’s my review of round 11.
How did the predictions go?
First up here is a link to my predictions.
4 out of 6, so not a great return. Tigers stepped but it was close and Wasps managed their first away win of the season!
London Irish 24 v 9 London Welsh
Irish played the conditions better and showed that they could do more then the opportunities presented themselves. Whilst the score line is clearly dominant in Irish’s favour Welsh weren’t that far behind in many aspects of the game. For example Welsh had more defenders beaten and clean breaks but this was a wet winter game where it’s about the forwards not backs.
Key Stat: Start of second half Noakes – sub off, Gilsenan – sub on
Being down to 14 men Irish decided to take off their flyhallf and bring their pack back up to 8 men. This is something that we saw Saints do against Tigers and backs up what we say about forwards providing the platform to win games.
Bath 31 v 14 Exeter Chiefs
With the margin of victory it looks like it was a one sided affair, but this was close for the first 50 minutes. Both sides looked to run the ball and this was another kilometre game, i.e. between the two sides they managed over 1,000 meters running with ball. But the Bath pack proved too strong and in the last half hour Bath just pulled away to get the TBP win.
Key Stat: Tackles missed Bath 17 Exeter 34
You are going to get punished when you miss that many tackles and this led to an amazing 34 defenders beaten. Some people would pull up the penalty count of Bath 3 Exeter 14 but this one wasn’t decided by the referee.
Sale Sharks 30 v 32 Leicester Tigers
Another kilometre game of running rugby and the first half saw the lead change until Sharks took control in the final 20 minutes. Taking full advantage of a yellow card to Tigers, Sharks built up a 30-15 lead early the second half and with the TBP already in the bag looked good for the win. They tried to shut up shop too much and tigers dominated the rest of the game. Tigers also took advantage of a late Sharks yellow card to get the game winning converted try at the end and also seal the TBP.
Key Stat: Penalties conceded Sharks 15 Tigers 5
Indisciplin towards the end of the game allow Tigers to pounce and get the crucial late converted try to win the game.
Newcastle Falcons 23 v 25 Saracens
This was a real ding dong battle with the lead changing several times during the game. Saracens must have thought that they had it in the bag when they finally pulled out a twelve point lead with 10 minutes to go. But two unconverted tries from Falcons nearly saw them steal the win. Falcons are one of the most improved teams and getting a high percentage goal kicker will only improve that further as again place kicking let them down.
Harlequins 25 v 30 Northampton Saints
After the game Jim Mallinder said “it is not all about how much ball you get, it is really what you do with it.” It’s very true, we have seen plenty of games won by the side that has had less possession and territory this season. But this one is the extreme with Quins having 70% possession and territory and Saints having to make over 4 times as many tackles as Quins.
Quinn were all over Saints but they kept them out and when they had opportunities they were taken. The difference between the sides on the scoreboard in the end was 2 missed kicks by Quins. Saints had a 100% kicking day.
Key Stat: The score 25-30
Just about all the other stats point to a Quins victory.
Gloucester Rugby 23 v 30 Wasps
The first half was full of exciting rugby with Gloucester taking an early lead before Wasps looked more dominant. Even so Gloucester fought back to trail by 10 at the break. The second half was all Gloucester but they just weren’t precise enough and couldn’t break down Wasps defence. Wasps should have pushed on from half time but nerves or something got the better of them and they didn’t get into their stride until the last quarter of an hour.
Key Stat: Tackles made/missed Gloucester 49/13 Wasps 107/12
The talk will be about the tries scored but Gloucester topped the attacking stats with three times as many meters with ball in hand, more territory and possession but they just missed too many tackles and couldn’t break Wasps down. Wasps put in a shift and it was really evident that they wanted that away win, even if they lost the plot a little in the second half.