That’s round 2 done, here is a look at how accurate my predictions were and my thoughts from the second round.
First up how did the predictions go?
4 out of 6 this week, so not the best from a perdition point of view. But as mitigation we had our first major upset and it’s a case of once bitten twice shy as I have backed Sale these last 2 weeks. Towards the end of last season I was not backing Sale and they kept winning, this season hasn’t started quite so well.
Harlequins 0 v 39 Saracens
Wow, I predicted a Saracens win but I did not expect a shutout. As Conor O’Shea said:
We're shot to pieces because we certainly didn't see that coming. In emotional terms that's a big blow.
Now that’s a big problem at this time of the season. As I said in my Aviva Premiership season deconstructed post, momentum during this part of the season can quickly snowball as it’s the biggest block of back to back games. Quins came up short in every facet of the game against Saracens. Their only glitter of light is that they won’t be coming up against teams like Saracens every week. Having said that after being pushed so close by a bottom of the table side like Irish and now to be trashed by Saracens, Quins need to stop the rot. If they don’t want to be looking over their shoulders and not pushing for a home semifinal.
Probably Quins greatest worry will be at flyhalf, until recently considered the best in the premiership, Nick Evens has been really off colour this season missing another goal kick this weekend and also being charged down. Botica came on at halftime and didn’t do much better also getting charged down. I felt that Evans wasn’t as good last season and maybe Quins will be regretting not refreshing their options over the summer.
For Saracens it’s the exact opposite, last week they sneaked home after letting Wasps back into it. But that win and then this performance means they will be going into the next few games full of confidence. I didn’t realise how much Saracens had had the upper hand in these fixtures, that makes it just 1 loss in 12 games. There are definitely certain sides that teams do better or worse against and it’s not all superstition. It has a large part to do with the style of play of the two sides and clearly Saracens rock like defence has proved hard for Quins to breakdown over the last few seasons.
Bath 53 v 26 London Welsh
Have Bath got out of preseason mode? Great to score seven tries and get the half century of points. But to let in 4 tries as well? That leaves more questions than answers as there aren’t many teams that will give Bath the opportunities Welsh did.
For Welsh at least it’s their first point, well to be honest at least they scored some points. To get 4 tries and the TBP is fantastic for Welsh. But and it’s a real big but that’s another half century of points conceded. Again a bunch of one on one tackles missed, that’s something that needs to be rectified and fast if they are going to compete.
Gloucester Rugby 34 v 27 Sale Sharks
When only one side in a game gets a TBP it’s very rare that they are on the losing side. Sale will be really upset with this result especially with them leading by 11 points at half time. This is 2 weeks in a row where ill discipline has cost Sharks and they need to make sure it’s not a trend that continues. On the positive side Cipriani has kicked off the season in style and will be pushing for a place in the England world cup squad.
Gloucester will be really happy to have shown the strength to come back in this game. The question is how well are they clicking because it looks like the ill discipline let them back into this. Added to this settling in of the team and coaching staff, Hook is never going to be a consistent steady flyhalf. He has that elusive x-factor but hasn’t played that much in this pivotal position in recent seasons. Did Gloucester just get out of jail or is the team clicking?
Exeter Chiefs 20 v 24 Leicester Tigers
A LBP for Chiefs which on the face of it isn’t a bad result but they will be kicking themselves. This is one that got away, with some better execution and discipline this one would have been in the bag. The knock on early on that prevented a try looked like it was rectified by Ewers try. But if they had scored that bit earlier and had the extra time against 14 men, would they have got two tries early in the game? In the end the difference was 2 penalties so better discipline within range has to be big on the agenda next week for the Chiefs. Too many games last season went this way and they need to make sure it’s a habit they break
Tigers will be happy, not playing at their best yet but 2 wins in the bag. Many people described this as Leicester gritting it out and haven’t we heard that before about Tigers. Also Freddy Burns looks to have settled in a fly half well after his terrible season at Gloucester last year. Even with some injuries things have started well for the Tigers.
Wasps 20 v 16 Northampton Saints
Wow, what a result for Wasps. Having come so close last week they got over the line this time. 5 points from the first two games and those against the top two teams from last season is a very good start for Wasps. This win was built on resolute defines and as one poster put it, they have added grunt upfront to go with their good set of backs. My main concern with Wasps isn’t their ability in any given game but the depth of squad and fatigue. Wins like this where they’re defending for so much time will be draining over the season so ball retention will be something they’ll be concentrating on.
Saints come away with a LBP and after the euphoria of last week have been brought back down to earth. This is the kind of grounding that they might find is beneficial in the long run. Don’t get me wrong a loss is never as good as a win, but this will stop any complacency creeping in. This is far from the end of the world, Wasps are a class outfit it just means less room for error over the rest of the season.
Newcastle Falcons 18 v 20 London Irish
If you don’t kick your goals you’re not going to win many games. 6 missed kicks for Falcons means 15 points left on the pitch and what would have been an easy win. On the plus side 5 tries in the first two games goes a long way to rectifying last seasons issues, Welsh you have been warned.
Irish will be happy to get their first win and especially when it’s an 8 pointer in the relegation battle. What’s more worrying is that they are bottom of the league for tries, equal with Quins of all teams. So it looks like there is still a lot of work to do on attack especially. It shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise when you think of the quality backs that they lost over the summer.