A high scoring weekend to kick off the least loved tournament is a great start, here’s my review.
So how were the predictions?
5 out of 6 with Irish unable to repeat their victory over Tigers the only blemish on the copy book. Considering how this competition can depend so much on the sides that teams choose to put out I’m very happy with that.
Sale Sharks 32 v 29 Wasps
Sale might not have been there physically for the first half. Some how they managed to keep it close only being down by 2 points at the break, after the lead had changed several times. They came out much more physical in the second half and opened up the largest lead of the game only for Wasps to even things up with 10 minutes to go. This was only settled by a 75 minute penalty.
For two teams that have had a tough start to the season and having to deal with the champions cup they put on a good show. Obviously not a great start for Wasps but two bonus points means a good result next week and they are still in it. Clearly a great start for Sale but they are not the only bonus point win in their group.
Bath Rugby 47 v 7 London Welsh
Bath are building a reputation of begin a big spending club but they fielded a good number of academy players in this game. Even with that they took control early and had the TBP before half time. If Bath are going to progress in this competition then this is exactly the result they needed.
For Welsh this season is just going from bad to worse, looking at the scoring they were never in this and let Bath score too easily. They didn’t even score until the hour mark once Bath were well out of sight. They really need to get harder to beat.
Exeter Chiefs 28 v 27 Gloucester Rugby
Gloucester were leading this for most of the game and two missed penalty kicks are what lost this one for them in the end. Exeter got out of jail with this one especially as one of those missed kicks was the last action of the game. As Saracens v Quins hasn’t happened yet it’s hard to measure where these two teams are. Gloucester are clearly behind Bath but have Welsh to come which could pull them back. Who knows about Exeter’s group as only Welsh have also played.
London Irish 16 v 17 Leicester Tigers
Tigers took the lead in the first minute and never gave it up. That makes it sound easy, it wasn’t. Irish were on the top for most of the game but just weren’t as clinical as Tigers. That and Tigers defence saw ten through and just hold off Irish.
Irish are now in trouble as the other two teams in their group got bonus point wins. In this competition where you don’t play your rivals, even at the best of times it’s not wholly within your control. But as soon as you are behind you don’t have the opportunity to make your competitors in your pool lose and you’re hoping for a favour.
Tigers have a nice lead as both the other teams in their group lost this weekend, but it’s early days even though there are only 4 rounds.
Northampton Saints 37 v 23 Newcastle Falcons
Another high scoring game which seems to be a bit of a theme for this competition this year. It looks like a relatively easy win but Saints were made to work hard for it and it wasn’t until the half hour that they opened a gap. Even then Falcons looked like they were staging a fight back towards the end but it was too much and Saints closed it out.
Saints and Sale top their group both with 5 points so even with a big win there is plenty of work to be done. With no bonus point wins in Falcons group a big win next week could get them back into this.
Saracens 25 v 20 Harlequins
Saracens creativity in the first half was enough for them to win this one as Quins fought back after the break. But it was not to be as Saracens kept their noses in front by being able to reply to every score. Quins didn’t help themselves by getting a yellow card just after they got them selves back within a score. Both coaches were happy to take positives from the game with so many young players involved.
This results means that Exeter lead Quins by 3 points and so next weeks results will be crucial. Whilst Saracens are just 1 point behind Bath and possibly in the stronger position having had the harder game.