We returned to domestic action this weekend and there was some atrocious weather to contend with. Here is my review of the action.
Northampton Saints 15 – 3 Gloucester Rugby
Sale Sharks 15 – 15 Newcastle Falcons
Exeter Chiefs 26 – 25 Harlequins
Saracens 48 – 18 Worcester Warriors
London Irish 15 – 33 Wasps
Leicester Tigers 21 – 11 Bath
5 form 6 as I failed to pick the draw.
On a wet evening both sides were happy to put boot to ball. The understandable dropped balls led to plenty of scrums where Saints dominated. All it then took was the boot of Myler to win the kicking duel. Whilst there were breaks with ball in hand neither side as able to finished them off.
Another wet match and again both sides were happy to put boot to ball with both fullbacks leading their sides for meters run with ball in hand. Sharks got off to a good start with an early penalty. Newcastle evened things up only for Sale to pull a head again. But playing with plenty of confidence Newcastle scored the only try of the first half only for their discipline to let them down as Sale kicked another couple of penalties to go into half time 12-8 up. Sale got another penalty early in the second half and must have though that would be enough. Falcons though kept on attacking forcing the home side to make nearly twice as many tackles and eventually got a converted try to even things up and get their first points of the season.
This is the weather and time of year that Exeter have historically struggled with. With a strong wind this is the kind of game where you expect one side to dominate the scoring in each half. Credit to both teams that they played well into the wind. Exeter got an early score via a penalty only for Quins to come back and force a penalty try through their scrum. Steenson kept knocking over the penalties but Quins were scoring tries in response through Evans and Walker. Evens though struggled with his kicking in difficult conditions and a late Exeter converted try meant they led 19-17 at half time. Evens knocked over an early penalty goal to regain the lead in the second half. Stevenson has a reputation as a kicking fly half but he has a deceptive break and he spotted a gap to scoot over for a try which he converted. A couple of yellow cards reduced Exeter but also meant uncontested scrums. Quins did manage a try wide out to get the TBP but the missed conversion meant they had to settle for a LBP to go along with it.
Saracens continued their early season good from with a big win over Warriors. An early try sent them on their way and they were 17 points up before Warriors got on the board. A couple of penalties seemed the tide momentarily as Saracens led 20-6 at half time. Another early try for Saracens though kept them well clear and the TBP was wrapped up with 51 minutes gone. Another two tries put the nails in the coffin before a couple of late tries for Warriors made the score line look closer than the game really was.
With Falcons picking up 2 points for their draw, Irish really needed to get something from this game to kick start their season. They kept it close in the first half being able to only trail by 3 at half time. Wasps scored an early try and penalty in the second half. Irish were able to claw back a converted try to trail by 6 but the pressure was going to tell. Irish made nearly 200 tackles which was more than double Wasps and in the last ten that told as Wasps scored tow tries to pick up the TBP along with the win.
Bath scored an early try to take the lead and continued to dominate the first half. But Tigers socked up everything that was thrown at them and countered with a try and two penalties of their own to lead at half time. Ford then kicked tow penalties in the second half to even thing sup and with Tigers losing a player to the bin things were looking good for Bath. They weren’t able to take advantage of their numerical advantage and Bell kicked Tigers back into the lead. Then after Bath lost a player to the bin Tigers got the crucial try from a driving maul to win the game.
Edinburgh 32 – 13 Newport Gwent Dragons
Glasgow Warriors 13 – 6 Benetton Treviso
Leinster 8 – 3 Ulster
Ospreys 13 – 6 Cardiff Blues
Munster 12 – 18 Connacht Rugby
Scarlets 20 – 12 Zebre
5 from 6 as the impressive Connacht kept me from a clean sweep.
Connacht stay top 2 points clear of Scarlets. At the other end Ospreys are closing in on the middle group leaving Dragons, Blues, Treviso and Zebre in the dungeons.
Montpellier 25 – 20 La Rochelle
Racing Metro 92 28 – 13 Toulouse
US Oyonnax 9 – 34 Brive
Bordeaux Begles 46 – 10 Section Paloise
Agen 18 – 23 Castres
Clermont Auvergne 9 – 35 Toulon
Grenoble 19 – 21 Stade Francais
Despite losing Clermont remain top of the table by just 1 point from Racing with the top 6 teams only separated by 3 points. Pau, Agen and Oyonnax occupy the bottom 3 places as a gap is starting to emerge to La Rochelle.