Weekend Rugby Review – 22 February

A quiet weekend between 6 Nations rounds? Not with all the domestic rugby action, here’s my review of it all.

Aviva Premiership

Harlequins 25 – 19 Leicester Tigers
Saracens 25 – 12 Gloucester Rugby
Worcester Warriors 31 – 23 Sale Sharks
Bath 18 – 24 Wasps
London Irish 15 – 22 Exeter Chiefs
Newcastle Falcons 26 – 25 Northampton Saints

4 from 6, as I missed the upsets by the relegation sides.

Quins fans would have been nervous coming into this game with Evans out injured and Botica in the 10 shirt. In the first half he got into a kicking dual with Tigers going a head early with a penalty and Botica equaling things up. This happened three times so the sides went in 9-9 at halftime. I’m sure there was plenty of “the games starts over in the second” kind of comments. Quins took the lead for the first time again by Botica’s boot as he knocked over a couple early in the second half. Tigers though were back in it when they scored a try before the hot mark. Botica edged Quins back a head with the boot but it wasn’t until 5 minutes before time that Quins sealed it with a try from Yarde. Burns did pull a penalty back for the LBP but it wasn’t enough to stop Tiger’s losing run.

Saracens got and early try to take the lead but the talking point was about cards. First after a quarter of the game Barrett got sent to the bin for a tip tackle. Gloucester were unable to take advantage as the sides swapped penalties. Then before Barrett was back Brits got red carded for a punch when his leg was trapped. After that Saracens maintained their discipline and forced Gloucester into a kicking duel. They swapped penalties so that Saracens led 13-6 at halftime. In the second half Saracens responded to each of Gloucester’s penalties before pulling away on the last ten minutes with two more kicks.

Warriors consigned Sharks to their first lost of 2016 as Cipriani had a shocker with the boot. Warriors shot out to an early lead via the boot of Heathcote and a couple of tries with Sharks only response being Cipriani’s only successful kick of the game. Then with less than 5 minutes to halftime Sharks grabbed their first try. You’d have expected the yellow card soon afterward to have taken the wind out of Sharks sails but they got their second try when down to 14 men. Warriors did manage to get their third try just before Sale were restored to 15 men and with over half an hour to go would have been thinking of a TBP. All they could manage though was another penalty as Sale got two tries in the last twenty minutes to claim a consolation TBP themselves.

Wasps took the lead through an early penalty but it was just before the half-hour mark for the first try. Haley got over the line but the conversion was missed. This allowed Priestland to narrow the gap to 6-8 with two late penalties. Wasps also started the sedan half better with another early penalty backed up with another Halai try. Wasps then added another try on the hour mark to take a commanding lead. A yellow card for Young then gave Bath a hope as they pulled back a converted try but another penalty settled any Wasps nerves. A late Bath consolation try added some respectability to the score line.

Irish started the stronger getting an early converted try. They weren’t able to add to their score in the first half as Steenson narrowed things with a penalty on twenty minutes. Irish lost a player to the bin late on but Exeter were only able to add another penalty to trail 7-6 at the break. Even down to 14 men, Irish started stronger and force a penalty only for Exeter to land a double blow with a penalty followed up by their only try. From there the Chiefs turned the screw and slotted another couple of penalties, so even though Irish score two tries to one they still came out on the losing side.

Falcons got off to a flier with and early try in a game, Saints replied with a try of their own but the missed conversion would be telling at the end of the game. Then en exchange of penalties between Myler and Goode gave Saints a 1 point lead. That was short-lived as Falcons fashioned another try that was backed up by a Goode penalty for a 20-11 halftime lead. Early in the second half Goode kicked two more penalties to stretch the lead to an important three scores. Saints had the upper hand from there, scoring two converted tries but ran out of time and lost the game by a single point. On such thin margins Falcons survival in the Premiership might be secured.

Pro12

Benetton Treviso 19 – 17 Newport Gwent Dragons
Ospreys 27 – 13 Edinburgh
Glasgow Warriors 27 – 24 Munster
Cardiff Blues 13 – 14 Leinster
Zebre 34 – 51 Connacht Rugby
Ulster 20 – 21 Scarlets

4 from 6, got it wrong in a couple of close games so not that bad.

That win by Scarlets meant there was a little shuffling at the top and those four are now 8 points clear of the chasing pack. Traviso have back to back wins but are still bottom of the table.

Top 14

Stade Francais 32 – 17 Brive
Castres 17 – 28 Clermont Auvergne
Bordeaux Begles 24 – 19 Agen
Montpellier 16 – 19 Section Paloise
Grenoble 35 – 39 Racing Metro 92
La Rochelle 28 – 8 Toulouse
US Oyonnax 13 – 44 Toulon

Toulouse lost but are still in third behind Racing and Toulon. Agen and Oyonnax are looking adrift at the bottom of the table as Pau and Stade pick up victories.

Americas Rugby Championship

USA 64 – 0 Chile
Uruguay 21 – 24 Argentina XV
Canada 52 – 25 Brazil

USA took the lead in the table by one TBP over Argentina and it still could come down to points difference between these two. Brazil have two LBPs and still have a slight hope of overhauling Chile to avoid the wooden spoon.

Womens’s Sevens World Series

Australia thrashed Canada to win Sao Paulo and both of the tournaments this season. New Zealand beat the USA to come third and go second in the series standings equal on points with Canada. The next stop is Atlanta on the 8-9 of April.

Super Rugby Prediction League

Super Rugby starts soon, join in the predicting fun by clicking here for my SuperBru prediction league.

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