We had a fitting climax to the Premiership league games and another exciting round of Super Rugby games. Here is my review of the weekend’s action.
Bath 50 – 30 Gloucester Rugby
Exeter Chiefs 44 – 16 Sale Sharks
Leicester Tigers 22 – 14 Northampton Saints
London Irish 40 – 40 Wasps
London Welsh 17 – 68 Saracens
Newcastle Falcons 37 – 21 Harlequins
3 from 6, I let my heart rule my head for one prediction and there was a draw, so not surprising really.
Bath polled up with their first team as Ford had said they would and as expected Gloucester rested some players. Under that scenario the result shouldn’t be a surprise. Gloucester are keeping their powder dry for the Champions Cup playoffs after playing every weekend for a while. Bath have had a couple of weekends off recently and so want to carry their form through into the Premiership playoffs. Once Bath recovered from Gloucester’s early try they were always in control of this one.
Chiefs needed to get a TBP win and for other results to go their way. They managed that but it wasn’t as easy, well initially, as the score line suggests. The two sides traded blows with the Chiefs having the upper hand. Then there was a rash of cards and the Chiefs took full advantage scoring 22 in answered points. But it was too little to climb into the playoffs.
Another case of one team having their first choices and the other not. But in the Tigers v Saints clash the first choice team were trailing at halftime. It was only a point and in the second half they went about building a lead that would make sure they made the playoffs again. For a side that has got poor reviews they have done well and this lot of players won’t be the first that didn’t make it.
40 – 40, what the beep??? There was even a nearly 20 minute gap between tries at one point! Not sure there’s much I can say about this one but really sounds like an end of season party. Wasps secured their Champions Cup place and London Irish will be welcoming a host of new faces.
Saracens got the expected result against Welsh and secured their playoff slot. But Welsh kept it close for most of the first half and it wasn’t really until the last twenty minutes that Saracens had enough to see them clear of the Chiefs.
Finally a surprise result in game where the result couldn’t effect the table. Falcons put in a stunning second half performance to comeback and beat Quins. This means Falcons will look at next season with some confidence even if the know it’s going to be a fight to stay up. Quins will be happy this season is over and will want to start afresh. There are new faces arriving to fill some of the more glaring gaps in their squad so who know’s what next season will hold.
Blues 23 – 18 Bulls
Reds 46 – 29 Rebels
Hurricanes 22 – 18 Chiefs
Waratahs 33 – 18 Sharks
Lions 20 – 30 Brumbies
Cheetahs 24 – 45 Highlanders
3 from 6, considering the weekend started with 2 upsets that I didn’t pick that’s not a bad return.
It was cold and wet, I was there, but luckily both teams were happy to spread the ball when they could. As with a lot of games this one came down to spotting and taking your opportunities. All it took was a poor clearing kick from Pollard. He failed to find touch and the returning player spotted he was up against a prop. Little swerve and the first try was scored. Both sides battled it out and even though Bulls were more effective in the opposition 22 they didn’t get there often enough. Amazingly the Blues are unbeaten at Eden Park and they clearly wanted to keep it that way.
The Rebels had a great first 30 with some wonderful flowing broken play rugby. The Reds had all the ball and possession but weren’t able to do anything with it. Eventually the pressure told and it was one way traffic as they racked up 6 tries and 40 unanswered points. It was powered by some lovely offloading rugby but also helped by some poor tackling. The Reds have too many quality players to be poor all season the only question is if this is a one off or an end of season flourish?
The most anticipated game of the season might have been missing Barrett, Cruden and SBW but it was still the game of the round. Some good power running from 11 and 12 helped setup a home lead. The Chiefs were looking dangerous with their offloads and finally it paid off just before half time to take the lead. Unfortunately the ref became the focus of attention, there were as many disallowed tries as those scored in the second half. In the end the right team won this close contest and its a shame the ref has taken so much of the focus.
The Tahs had a great start with a try in the first minute. The Sharks pulled a try back just before halftime with a wonderful cross field kick. Tahs pulled out a good lead with their powerful winger getting another. But players rushing out of the line allowed the Sharks back into the game. The Tahs kept themselves in front but the margin had the gloss or a runaway try at the end. Again the ref got too much attention with bad calls which needs sorting out as it’s impacting too many games.
The Lions were on top early but didn’t take full advantage. Once the Brumbies got a sniff they picked up 2 quick tries. The Lions then panicked and threw some stupid passes to give the Brumbies a third and the game. The second half saw the Lions try to come back but the Brumbies defence was up to everything they threw at them.
The Highlanders were far too good for the cheetahs mixing up their game fabulously and when missing one of they strong back three. Well when the new guy comes in and scores two tries it’s also easy. The TBP was wrapped up before half time. It was only in the last quarter of an hour that the Cheetahs came back and it was far too late by then and the Highlanders had a good defence to fall back on.
Junior Rugby World Championship
The Junior Rugby World Championship is in Italy this year and kicks off on the 2nd of June. I’ll be having a go at predictions and reviews of each round. To match your wits against me join my SuperBru pool. I can’t promise any great insights, however I did somehow manage to finish in the top 4% on SuperBru last year.