A weekend of wet rugby and big wins, here is my review of round 14 of the Aviva Premiership.
How did the predictions go?
First here is a link to my predictions.
6 out of 6, a clean sweep!
Leicester Tigers 18 v 15 Gloucester Rugby
Rainy conditions and defences turned this into a kicking battle. Tiger dominated the territory and possession in the first half but weren’t able to take advantage as both sides traded penalties to be all even at 9-9 going into the break. The second half was much the same except that Hook missed a long-range penalty late on that would have earned Gloucester a draw.
Key Stat: Penalty goals Tigers 6 from 6 Gloucester 5 from 6
That missed kick was the difference between the sides but shouldn’t have been. Tigers had plenty of territory and possession but just couldn’t do anything with it as both sides kicked to it each other.
Northampton Saints 15 v 9 London Irish
Another wet match made handling difficult, there had already been squandered opportunities when Saints took the lead with a converted try 26 minutes in. Irish reduced the gap with a penalty to train 7-3 a half time. Both teams were down to 14 men for the first ten minutes of the half but neither could make use of the extra space. Another yellow card after 53 minutes reduced Irish back to 14 men and Saints took immediate advantage with a try. That was enough to win the contest as both sides traded penalties after that.
Key Stat: Turnovers conceded Saints 21 Irish 17
In a game where the sides are handing the ball back and forth so much there was no continuity. Saints won a difficult game that they could easily have lost but champions seem to find away to get the win.
Exeter Chiefs 46 v 17 Newcastle Falcons
Exeter dominated the first half to win this game, opening the scoring after only 2 minutes with a penalty. It was really in the second quart that they ran rampant, already with a try up and leading by 10 points. Three tries in 13 minutes claimed the TBP before half term and ended the game as a contest. To give Falcons credit they did come out in the second half and play more running rugby but the Exeter defence was up to the task. Falcons did that the first try of the second half but Exeter replied with two more before Falcons got a late consolation try.
Key Stat: Clean breaks Chiefs 18 Falcons 8
Exeter were at their flowing best and cut through the Falcons defence too many times.
Saracens 34 v 24 Bath
Bath took an early lead with a penalty goal but Saracens came back in the second quarter to with a try and two penalties to take an eight point lead into half time. Early in the second half was a real ding dong battle as initially Saracens scored another try to open up a comfortable lead only for Bath to score a try to get back into it. Saracens quickly responded with a try of their own to open up an 18 point lead. That was enough to win the game as two late tries from Bath proved too little too late.
Key Stat: Kicks from hand Saracens 38 Bath 20
Most of the the stats say Bath should have won but they do say that the side that kicks most normally wins.
Wasps 37 v 6 Harlequins
Wass produced a dominant win but this wasn’t all Champaign flowing rugby. They initially built up a lead with the boot with three early penalties. Quins replied with one of their own before Wasps scored their first try of the match. That was quickly followed up with another converted try and a 20 point lead had opened up. Quins did pull a penalty back to trail 23-6 a half time. An early penalty try for pulling down rolling maul brought the TBP into sight but it was only secured late on with another penalty try on 77 minutes.
Key Stat: Clean breaks Wasps 9 Quins 4
The stats aren’t as dominant as the scoreline but Wasps took their chances in the first half and their pack dominated.
London Welsh 12 v 52 Sale Sharks
Welsh actually got the first try but it was an interception off a pass and papered over the fact that Sale were already in the ascendancy. After that Sale were more clinical with 5 tries in the first half securing the game and TBP. A sixth try opened up a 33 point lead before Welsh got their second try. Much of the second half was then scoreless until two late tries by Sale brought up the half century.
Key Stat: Metres run with ball Welsh 492 Sale 513
To be fair to Welsh they did run the ball but when you’re chasing the game you have to. Their lack of precision let them down and was in stark contrast to Sale.