An entertaining weekend of cup rugby with some high scoring games and some tight struggles. Here is my review of the third round of LV=Cup action.
How did the predictions go?
First here is a link to my predictions.
5 out of 8, it was looking good on Saturday with 4 out of 4 but Sunday it all fell apart.
Harlequins 21 v 23 Bath Rugby
Bath had the perfect start racing to a 10 point lead after only 5 minutes. Quins worked their way back into the game to take a slim 2 point lead into half-time. Quins then spent the second half extended int the lead with a couple of penalties only for the Bath scrum to force a penalty try with just over 10 minutes to go. A late penalty for offside after another strong run allowed Bath to sneak home.
Key Stat: Clean breaks Quins 6 Bath 12
Bath had less territory and possession but they were more effective with it even if they had needed a penalty try for their second. You could argue that the one extra missed kick was the key stat as that would have resulted in a draw.
Gloucester Rugby 32 v 25 Ospreys
Gloucester started well and got two early tries to open up a good lead. Ospreys did stage a fight back but two yellow cards before half time saw Gloucester score two more tries either side of the break. That opened up a 29-13 lead and claimed the TBP. After a number of substitutions on both sides Ospreys closed to within a point but even with a man down Gloucester closed out the win.
Key Stat: Possession (1H/2H) Gloucester 57% (75%/33%) Ospreys 43% (25%/67%)
Gloucester opened up the lead and then held on as Ospreys led in meters run and defenders beaten but just couldn’t break down Gloucester’s defence.
Leicester Tigers 17 v 8 Northampton Saints
Tigers got an early try and looked the more menacing side except turnovers and penalties removed any sense of continuity for either side. A late try in the half meant that Tigers led 14-3 at the break. More of the same tense rugby dominated the second half with only two scores, a try to Saints and late penalty for Tigers.
Key Stat: Clean breaks Tigers 6 Saints 1
In the end that proved enough with a combined 33 turnovers removing any flow the game had.
Scarlets 27 v 18 London Irish
Scarlets started well but could only claim 2 penalties. Irish came back to lead 13-6 at half time but it should have been more as they only managed a penalty whilst Scarlets were down to 13 men. After Scarlets were back to their full contingent the dominate the second half scoring three converted tries before Irish managed a consolation towards the end.
Key Stat: Scarlets (6) 27 – 18 (13) London Irish
Just the score Irish led or had parity in every category they just weren’t able to take their opportunities and get the points when they were on top.
Wasps 42 v 45 Cardiff Blues
Wasps got off to a flier and at 21-0 after 22 minutes it looked like being a hard day at the office for Blues. Blues did mount a fight back but Wasps had still wrapped up the TBP and were 35-17 a head at half time. An early converted try for Wasps in the second half looked to have wrapped things up. But from there on in it was all Blues, starting on 51 minutes they scored 3 converted tries to get back within one score. With both sides having emptied their bench that one score was made with the last pay of the game 2 minutes after the clock had run out.
Dragons 32 v 37 Exeter Chiefs
Exeter are the first team qualify for the quarter finals. A couple of early tries and Sweeney keeping the scoreboard ticking over with penalties meant a comfortable 6-18 lead at half time. An early second half try looked to put Exeter well in control and even when Dragons scored Exeter countered with another try. But two more tries just after the hour mark pulled them within one score. An Exeter penalty try should have tied things up but a try 2 minutes from time raised how hopes but it wasn’t to be.
London Welsh 15 v 20 Saracens
With Saracens depleted due to both international call ups and playing the Bulls the day before this was a golden opportunity for Welsh. They took a slim early lead with a drop goal only to fall behind to two converted tires either side of half time. Welsh managed to strike back straightaway and another try gave them a 1 point lead. That held until the last ten minutes where 2 late penalties gave Saracens the win.
Newcastle Falcons 39 v 19 Sale Sharks
Ford had a perfect day with the boot for Sale but he couldn’t keep Sharks in contention as Falcons scored 4 tries in the first half. Sale didn’t help themselves with 2 yellow cards during that period and another early in the second half allowed Falcons to stay well on top and stretch wither lead with 2 penalties and another try just after the hour mark. A sale try ten minutes from time was too little too late.