Another weekend of exciting rugby with a fair few upsets sprinkled in there to keep things interesting. Here is my review of all the action.
Northampton Saints 11 – 24 Wasps
Sale Sharks 38 – 10 London Irish
Gloucester Rugby 18 – 19 Leicester Tigers
Saracens 19 – 13 Bath
Newcastle Falcons 26 – 19 Harlequins
Worcester Warriors 15 – 30 Exeter Chiefs
4 from 6, an average performance as not many saw Wasps blitzing Saints and Quins stumbling to Falcons.
Wasps came out of the traps fast and Saints were never able to recover. In wet and windy conditions Wasps were on the scoreboard via penalty after only four minutes. Then three tires in a dominant fifteen minutes of play won this game. A flat Saints only managed a penalty during that time. Neither side to add to their scores before the break so it was 3-24 at half-time. Having three tries with only half an hour gone Wasps must have been thinking of pushing on for the TBP. A yellow card early in the second half though gave Saints an opportunity to get back into the game. Wasps survived it well, only giving up a penalty and by the time Saints scored their only try in the last ten minutes it was all too late. Wasps won away at Franklin’s Gardens for the first time since 2005 but did miss out on the TBP.
Irish came into this game with a bit of form and got the first points on the table via the boot of Geraghty. That good feeling though was short-lived as Sharks quickly responded with a try. They had dropped the ball over the line before they added a second t to stretch the lead with twenty minutes gone. Irish also dropped the ball over the line before they forced a penalty try to only trail 12-10 at half-time. In the second half though it was one way traffic. Sale scored their first with only a minute gone. It took a while for the second to come to seal the TBP, but when it did two more followed quickly and the game was done.
Neither side could score in the first quarter of the game but then Gloucester scored two quick tries. First Hook went over from the second phase after a strong scrum. Then Morgan crashed over in the corner after Gloucester got field position from two Tigers colliding under the high ball. Leicester then got a try after a moment of magic from Burns as he chipped through. Gloucester knocked over a penalty to lead 15-7 at the break. Again in the second-half it took a long time before the first score. Tigers returned a kick from their own 22 all the way with good hands and plenty of supporting runners. Gloucester lost Morgan late on to then for pulling a player back off the ball. Tigers made the numbers tell and scored a converted try just before the whistle to take the narrowest of wins.
Saracens had the upper hand in territory and possession but Bath dominated the scoreboard racking up 13 points to nothing. Those came from a try out wide after a long driving maul and two penalties. Saracens continued to have the more territory and possession in the second-half. This time though they also dominated the scoreboard. A couple of early penalties got Saracens going but it wasn’t until ten minutes from the end that they bashed over the line. The ball had been spread wide on both sides before the space opened up. Then two penalties won the game for the table toppers.
Falcons got off to a great start with a catch and drive try that went so far across the pitch it was near the posts. A penalty stretched the lead to 10 points soon afterwards. There weren’t anymore scores until nearly half-time when Quins broke through and quickly moved the ball to Walker who zipped down the line to score. The conversion narrowed the gap to 10-7 at the break. Early in the second half Quins looked to have taken control of the game with two tries, the first from a catch and drive and then Walker scored his second. Goode came on just before the hour mark and quickly narrowed the gap with two penalties. A third evened the game at 19-19 with just over ten minutes to go. With time running the Falcons forwards bashed away at the line and finally got the try to win the game.
Short picked up an easy try for Exeter early on after the ball was moved wide from a driving maul. A couple of penalties for Worcester gave them a 1 point lead. Then Chiefs just cut them open with good running lines and nicely timed passes. Heathcote kept Warriors in it though with two more penalties so it was 12-12 at the break. There was an exchange of penalties early in the second-half before Chiefs pulled away. Waldrom went over from a driving maul and then Armond found himself wide after a backs move. That secured the TBP and a penalty was the icing on the cake.
Newport Gwent Dragons 23 – 13 Leinster
Zebre 12 – 16 Munster
Connacht Rugby 30 – 17 Scarlets
Benetton Treviso 13 – 32 Ulster
Cardiff Blues 10 – 3 Edinburgh
Ospreys 20 – 20 Glasgow Warriors
3 from 6, a poor week even though there was a draw as Connacht reignited their challenge.
The top of the table is very tight with Munster in 6th only 4 points behind Scarlets and Connacht who are top of the table on the same points. At the other end Dragons climbed to 10th leaving the two Italian sides in the bottom two places.
Brive 28 – 6 La Rochelle
Clermont Auvergne 15 – 19 Montpellier
Racing Metro 92 26 – 3 US Oyonnax
Castres 19 – 9 Bordeaux Begles
Agen 27 – 33 Grenoble
Toulouse 54 – 3 Section Paloise
Toulon 23 – 16 Stade Francais
5 losses in the last 8 games see Clermont slip to 4th in the table behind Toulon in 3rd and Toulouse and Racing who are on the same points. At the other end of the table Agen are still bottom with Oyonnax just 4 points above them.
New Zealand became the 3rd side to win a round of the HSBC Sevens World Series beating South Africa in the final. Fiji beat England in the Bronze final and those 4 sides top the series table. Close on their heals are Argentina and the USA. The sides all head to Sydney next weekend for the 4th round.
The next round of the Women’s Sevens Series is in San Paulo on the 20th and 21st of February.
The 6 Nations is about to start so please click here to join my prediction league on SuperBru.