Back to the Premiership and due to the internationals the opportunity for some upset results. Here is my review of how the weekend went.
How did the predictions go?
3 out of 6, but there is the mitigation of there being a draw. Plus sometimes you’re happy that your predictions are wrong, that was certainly a case with Chiefs win this weekend.
Gloucester Rugby 15 v 22 Harlequins
It’s amazing to think that this is Quins first win at Gloucester since 1999. Gloucester started the game really well, taking a 12 point lead. The problem was they couldn’t get over the try line and so even though they had around 70% possession and territory they only went in a half time 2 points up. In the second half Quins got the dominance and were able to score two tries to claim the comeback win.
Quins knew that they had to start winning if they are going to make the playoffs. Last seasons they just made fourth place with 7 losses and they have already lost 3 times this season.
Gloucester picked up a LBP which could be important in the packed mid-table group. I think we will have to wait until the turn of the year before that starts to shake out. Even then a good run in the new year can see teams climb the table swiftly.
Key Stat: Kick at goal success Gloucester 56% Quins 60%
At this level that is very poor and if all the kicks had been successful then this game would have been a draw. Obviously it’s not as simple as that ,the scoreboard ticking over adds pressure during the game and changes decisions. There are some interesting stats such as Quins conceding 11 penalties and Gloucester kicking for goal 9 times. That’s a lot of penalties conceded within range, which suggests either “professionalism” in stopping tries or poor discipline.
Northampton Saints 18 v 24 Exeter Chiefs
Saints are renowned for their powerful pack so it’s very impressive for the Chiefs to travel away and for their forwards to score three tries. OK one was an interception but even so Exeter started well and powered their way to a big lead. Saints couldn’t really get back into it until the hour mark. Despite dominating from there on, Exeter’s defence and especially high line speed, meant it was too little too late.
Saints are still top of the table and looking like they will be challenging of silverware. Exeter are starting to make people think that their first playoff appearance could be this season.
Key Stat: 2 tries to the Tank
At time of writing Thomas the Tank Engine is the leading try scorer in the premiership. Yup a number 8.
Sale Sharks 38 v 6 London Irish
Sale put together a powerful performance to come out on top aided by some players coming back from injury. With their captain coming back and putting in their first performance of the season like we know they can, it kind of feels like the season starts here for them.
Irish got out muscled but two yellow cards really killed any chance they had of getting anything out of this game as Sale took full advantage.
Key Stat: Yellow cards Sale 0 Irish 2
Sale were already ahead and probably would have won it anyway but the 2 yellow cards enabled Sale to score 19 points whilst Irish were reduced in numbers. That included 2 penalty tries.
Bath 23 v 14 Newcastle Falcons
This was a tight fought game and even though Bath opened up a gap during the second half a try on the 72nd minute brought Falcons right back into it. Baths scrum gave them the platform for this win and they did manage to keep Newcastle at arm’s length.
For Falcons their kicking woes continued with 3 missed penalties. This is an area that they really need to fix, they have to play so much more to get points and they could easily have taken a LBP away from this one.
Key Stat: Offloads Bath 10 Newcastle 2, Clean breaks Bath 3 Newcastle 0
The scrum may have been the platform but Bath played the more rugby with nearly 40 more passes than Falcons and 100 more meters run with ball.
Leicester Tigers 21 v 21 Saracens
Clearly this was a tight game that was dictated by the conditions and when you get into a kicking contest there are few people you would want ahead of Hodgson. Tigers missed 2 penalties and a drop goal to just the one missed penalty by Saracens so maybe Tigers should have taken it but at the end for the day the conditions won.
Key Stat: Kicks from hand Tigers 37 Saracens 36
There was only 1 clean line break and 3 offloads between the two teams so you would have thought there was a defensive battle, but no only 122 tackles made in total. Yup this was a kicking duel from hand as well as tee. One to miss and stay at home in the dry by a nice warm fire.
Wasps 71 v 7 London Welsh
Oh dear it’s just getting worse for Welsh, Wasps were all over them from the start scoring a try in the first minute. I don’t think that Wasps can learn much from this game even if Young said “If we play like we did today I think we’ll cause any team problems”. Maybe but other teams won’t miss so many tackles and let you gain anywhere nears so much ground.
The Welsh assistant coach said “We know as coaches that we keep making the same mistakes as we have done in recent weeks.” For me that’s really worrying as the coaches are supposed to be improving things and at the moment it doesn’t look like they know how.
Key Stat: Meters run with ball Wasps 726 Welsh 299
That is an amazing amour of meters for Wasps and helped by Welsh missing 30 tackles. A great send off for Wasps old ground, we will see in the coming weeks how they settle in to Coventry.