Another weekend of exciting rugby across both hemispheres, here is my round-up of all the action.
Wales 67 – 14 Italy
Ireland 35 – 25 Scotland
France 21 – 31 England
2 from 3, I got caught up on the tartan bandwagon.
Wales romped to an easy victory against an Italian side that has regressed or just faded as this championship went on. This secured Wales second place and the same points difference as England.
Ireland won a tough contest against Scotland where the got their heads in front when Barclay was binned after 24 minutes. After that they had enough control to keep Scotland at bay in what was a niggly contest. We saw two late yellow cards including one for Sexton who got roundly condemned for appealing to the ref and then grabbing his head.
England beat France by three tries to nill which sounds convincing. However France were in this right up until late in the game as England gave up 7 kickable penalties. Whilst this was France’s best performance by someway their set piece let them down. England were 100% from their lineout and scrum and managed to steal several linnouts to take the wind out of Frances sails. This sealed England’s first Grand Slam since 2003.
Bath 21 – 19 Newcastle Falcons
Harlequins 15 – 21 Worcester Warriors
Exeter Chiefs 20 – 12 Northampton Saints
Wasps 39 – 12 Sale Sharks
London Irish 23 – 18 Gloucester Rugby
Leicester Tigers 21 – 13 Saracens
4 from 6, with two of the relegation sides winning this a bad result.
Bath and Newcastle fought a tight contest with the Falcons having more of the possession and territory. Falcons got an early try with Bath fighting back to get two of their own to lead 12-7 at halftime. In the second half the teams swapped penalties and two yellow cards to Bath allowed Falcons to have a 1 point lead with ten minutes to go. A late yellow to Falcons helped Bath knock over a penalty for a narrow win.
Both Quins and Warriors were happy to run the ball. After an early exchange of penalties Warriors got over the line for a healthy 9-18 halftime lead. In the second half, for all the endeavour there were only penalties, two for Quins and one for Warriors. Whilst we’ll look at the Warriors tries it was their ability to keep out Quins that won them this even if it meant giving up more penalties.
Chiefs had the upper hand in possession and territory, in the first half though the advantage was slight. It also did them no good after an early penalty it was all Saints on the scoreboard. Two tries with one converted gave Saints a 3-12 lead. The second half though was one way traffic in the other direction. Saints got on the wrong side of the ref being penalised repeatedly. Chiefs took advantage of Saints yellow to pick up a try and then Steenson kicked his penalties to finish the job.
Wasps dominated the game against Sharks running for nearly twice as far with the ball and having over 70% of possession. Three unanswered tries and Gopperth’s boot meant a 25-0 halftime lead. A yellow card help Sale get back into momentarily it as they scored two tries. When Wasps returned to fifteen men they turned the screw and scored two more tries to seal the game. The game closed out with a card each for kicking out and retaliation.
Irish kept their survival hopes alive with a narrow win over Gloucester. Irish got an early try only for Gloucester to pick up a late try when they were reduced to 14 men. In-between we had an exchange of penalties meaning the sides were 10-10 at halftime. There was an exchange of penalties again before Gloucester crossed the whitewash again. Then Gloucester lost two more players to the bin and this time Irish took advantage to pull off an important win.
Tigers were all over a Saracens side that missed an amazing 40 tackles. In the first half though Saracens were first on the scoreboard with a penalty after Tigers picked up an early yellow card. Tigers managed two penalties of their own to go into the break with a narrow 6-3 lead. Early in the second half Saracens lost a player to the bin and Tigers took full advantage. Two tries in this ten minutes were the deciding factor that own the game. Saracens did many to drag it back to 18-13 with ten minutes to go. A Burns drop goal steady nerves before Saracens lost another player to the bin.
Chiefs went top of the table for the first time this deep into a season and face Saracens next weekend in a top of the table clash. At the other end Warriors went a long way to securing their survival and Irish closed the gap on Falcons.
Hurricanes 41 – 6 Force
Waratahs 26 – 30 Highlanders
Bulls 16 – 16 Sharks
Sunwolves 9 – 35 Rebels
Crusaders 57 – 24 Kings
Reds 25 – 25 Blues
Lions 39 – 22 Cheetahs
Stormers 31 – 11 Brumbies
Jaguares 26 – 30 Chiefs
4 from 9, even with a couple of draws it was a poor weekend of picking.
Force kept it close for the first hour and then the Canes just kept the ball alive and ran away with it. The Landers blitzed the Tahs in the first half pulling out to a 0-30 lead early in the second half. The Tahs did well to come back for a LBP. Sharks missed a late easy penalty to win it as the they fought a kicking duel draw with only a try each. Rebels did exactly what they needed to against the SunWolves running away with it after a tight first half. The Kings got an early 0-10 lead before the Saders ran away with this continuing their flat track bully trend of last year. Blues got a narrow lead at halftime but Reds spread things and got a good lead. Blues had a late penalty and the coaches ran on to call posts to draw. Lions played some nice expansive rugby to win this in the first half and then hold off the Cheetahs in the second. Stormers were already in the lead when a Brumbies player decided it was a boxing match and got red carded. Chiefs with better decision making about when it was on looked in control until the last 10 when the Jags got the lead. However a late Chiefs try with amazing offloads won it in the end.
We are only 4 rounds in but our conference leaders are Chiefs, Brumbies, Sharks and Stormers.
Not a great weekend picking but at least I beat the machine!
Cardiff Blues 34 – 28 Munster
Glasgow Warriors 12 – 6 Leinster
1 from 2, I thought that Munster would be too desperate to lose.
Glasgow got themselves back into the playoff contention and kept Leinster from going top. Munster missed a big opportunity to get into the top 4. Blues pulled clear of the bottom 3 but really their season is already over.
What do you think of the one line review concept? Would you like to see more?
Stade Francais 33 – 20 La Rochelle
Montpellier 60 – 7 Racing Metro 92
Section Paloise 21 – 16 Castres
US Oyonnax 30 – 28 Agen
Grenoble 26 – 22 Brive
Clermont Auvergne 32 – 23 Toulouse
Clermont overtook Racing to go top of the table. At the other end Stade and Pua maintained their gap over the bottom two.