Aviva Premiership 2014-2015 Round 8 Review

Another good weekend of Premiership rugby, here’s my review.

So how did the predictions go?

First up here’s the link to my predictions.

4 from 6, as Sale are starting to show the form of last year and Saints pulled off an important victory on the road.

Harlequins 12 v 16 Sale Sharks

As I said in the review last week it appears that Sales season has just started and they have backed that up with another good win. If they keep this up they are going to be series contenders come the sharp end of the season. They defended well and kept in touch for most of the game before taking their chance when it came and scoring a try to take the lead near the end. Cipriani will be thanking his captain as the two missed penalties could have been very costly.

Quins are missing key players and didn’t perform at their best. They knew what was going to happen and it’s how most seasons are, so losing players to internationals is no excuse. They will need to up their performances or their going to struggle to make the playoffs, with 4 losses already they can’t afford many more stumbles.

Key Stat: Clean Breaks Quins 2 Sharks 6

Quins may have had more possession and offloads but they couldn’t make the breaks. Sharks were more cutting and managed to take their opportunity when it came along.

Newcastle Falcons 20 v 10 Gloucester Rugby

It couldn’t have started any worse for Falcons with Gloucester getting a try in the opening minute of the game. But from there they restricted Gloucester to just 3 points whilst managing to keep the scoreboard ticking over with five penalties of their own. Interestingly Falcons changed their kicker this week after there have been a couple of games this season where their goal kicking has lat them down. In the end a try at the start of the second half sealed this one. This win will mean they are now looking up the table and not worrying about relegation.

Gloucester are missing 8, 9, 10 and 12 to international duty and so it shouldn’t be a surprise that they are struggling during this window. With such change in the squad and coaching staff expectations should have been that this would be a rebuilding year. If you look at Bath they have taken a couple of seasons before putting in a sustained challenge at the top of the table. Top of the lower half of the table should be their target from here.

Key Stat: Not available

Exeter Chiefs 31 v 15 Wasps

Another big win for the Chiefs sees them go top of the table for the first time ever, even if it was short-lived. The Chiefs won this in the first half where they were able to keep the scoreboard ticking over and rack up three tries. Yet again, I’m typing that, a team will be disappointed not to have picked up the TBP after getting three tries in the first half.

Both side squandered opportunities to score more tries. There was controversy with the refereeing in the second half, both sets of supporters wondered how Wasps didn’t pick up a penalty try at scrum time. But equally the fan forums agreed that the better side on the day won.

Wasps really are turning in to a Jekyll and Hyde team, having won all their home games and lost all their away ones in the Premiership. To a certain degree that’s got to be a worry, they are about to move house, so can Pickfords pack up their home form and move it with all the other equipment?

Key Stat: Not available

London Irish 23 v 33 Bath

Bath dominated the first half ending 6-16 up so when they got the first try of the second half they must have thought it was in the bag. Irish though fought back from there and ten points in five minutes looked like they might stage a fight back. In the end Bath had it under control and a late try for Irish makes it look closer than it actually was.

Considering the disruption caused by the international window, Bath will be pleased just to get another win and not be so concerned by the performance. Even if you have your players back, they have been up and down the M4 and immersed in a different training environment.

For Irish it’s now 4 losses on the trot and the loss of that early season form that saw some of us reviewing our expectations of Irish. There’s no need to worry as Welsh are already looking relegated. How ever they do need to turn things round quickly or it’s another season wasted at the wrong end of the table. If your perpetually at the wrong end of the table you’ll keep losing your best players, which has been Irish’s problem over recent seasons.

Key Stat: Not available

Saracens 24 v 31 Northampton Saints

Saints dominated the early part of the game scoring three tries and then held on to the end. Yet again we have a side that managed three tries before the break, not going on to get the TBP. Saracens managed to get themselves going towards the end of the first half and then dominate the second but they had already gone too far behind to catchup.

This is a massive result for Saints and takes them top of the table again, allowing Exeter just one day in the spot light.

Key Stat: Territory (1H/2H) Saracens 52% (31%/65%) Saints 48% (69%/35%)

That early dominance allowed Saints to go out to a 3-25 lead that Saracens just could close.

London Welsh 5 v 24 Leicester Tigers

This was a much improved performance from Welsh and hopefully something that they can build on. Welsh were even in the lead when they scored a try on 22 minuets but that’s as good as it got. They managed to stay in touch until near the end of the first half when Tigers scored their second driving maul try. In the second half Tigers were able to pull away and get the TBP that they needed. Job done for Tigers but far from their best performance and work to be done a head of hosting Wasps next weekend.

Key Stat: Territory (1H/2H) Welsh 32% (26%/36%) Tigers 68% (74%/64%)

If you’re stuck in your own half for that much of the game you’re not going to have the opportunity to score many points. We have seen sides win whilst being on the wrong side of possession and territory but not when the gap has been this much.

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