As some of you will know I’ve got a new job and so I don’t have as much time for this whole blogging thing. The game by game reviews just take up too much time so I’d thought I’d try something new, so here is my weekend rugby review.
Blues 16 – 14 Brumbies
Crusaders 20 – 25 Highlanders
Waratahs 18 – 32 Stormers
Force 15 – 24 Cheetahs
Lions 23 – 21 Sharks
Bulls 43 – 22 Reds
Getting to the games, the Blues finally win a game! I was there and whilst the penalty count is even at the end of the game, the Brumbies were blown off the park in the first half. The Blues did work to earn those but clearly the Brumbies figured things out at half time and only lost it due to poor kicking. Blues missed 1 and Brumbies missed 3 including one at the death to win it. Away form the game the interesting thing is how the Brumbies managed to fix things at halftime but not on the pitch, so are players over trained and can’t think for themselves?
This season has had a whole list of upsets and the first three games followed that trend. The Highlanders won a cracker after the Crusaders took a good lead. Maybe the Crusaders are “flat track bullies” to borrow a term from cricket. They have big wins and many pundits were saying that they had found their form but they keep tripping up against the better teams. The Stormers are having a great season as long as they don’t play NZ teams (Blues excepted) and that continued as did the Waratahs up and down season.
Force v Cheetahs, doesn’t anyone really care? Bottom two teams who are there most seasons, at least the Cheetahs have played attractive rugby even if it was the forwards who won this one and do cause upsets. But the perennial positive news out of West Australia proves to be false again.
The Lions continue their winning run as the Sharks sink even further. I’m not close to these two teams but it seems to be a case between good and bad cultures. The Lions aren’t loaded with star names but are fighting for each other. This time they got a lucky with a late missed penalty but they really should have scored more points in a half they totally dominated. The Sharks on the other hand do have those names but are losing players left and right to suspensions for cheap shots.
The Bulls dominated the score board over the Reds and there will be talk about the tries but 24 to 5 points with only 24% territory is great defence as well. The Bulls put in a real shift with 156 tackles and nearly twice as many as the dysfunctional Reds.
No red cards this week, the game has just gone all soft.
Newcastle Falcons 19 – 29 Bath
Harlequins 29 – 26 Gloucester Rugby
Saracens 22 – 6 Leicester Tigers
Exeter Chiefs 21 – 10 Northampton Saints
London Welsh 13 – 40 Wasps
London Irish 25 – 23 Sale Sharks
4 from 6, is ok but I’m a bit disappointed not to pick either of the upsets.
Bath got the expected win but Falcons made them fight for it like they have with most teams when at home. Even so once Bath got back a head just before half time they always looked like the winners. In the mid table clash for the first 68 minutes Gloucester looked like the winners. Quins kept themselves in touch with penalties and then 2 yellow cards gave them the advantage to secure the game even if a late Gloucester try made it close.
The scoreline looks like a Saracens domination but Tigers were 0-6 up after 10 minutes and Saracens didn’t get on the scoreboard until just before half time. A yellow card gave them the numerical advantage and they used that to build up a lead and their tenacious tackling did the rest.
A cracking performance and result for the Chiefs who’s forwards dominated the Saints. The Saints need to regather themselves or their season that was looking so promising will end in a bit of a flop. The question for the Chiefs is can they cope with Europe and challenging in the Premiership.
Wasps are disappointed with their performance and didn’t get the half century that I expected. But they got the 5 points and are still in with a chance. Sale though are now 5 points back and need to ensure they don’t get caught by Quins. Diamond might be blaming the referee but he only has his own players to blame. They should have kicked the ball out to end the half rather than trying to run it from under their posts.
It’s all coming to the boil very nicely even if Gloucester are no longer in the hunt for 7th and a playoff place for the Champions Cup. Also Sale bowed out of the race for the playoffs and are now looking over their shoulders at Quins instead of up the table.