Weekend Rugby Review – 18 April

This weekend saw the kickoff of a new professional league in the USA in addition to two rounds of the 7s series plus the domestic action! Another week of rugby overdose, I’m going to be sent to rehab soon…..

Aviva Premiership

Gloucester Rugby 16 – 9 Exeter Chiefs
Worcester Warriors 35 – 54 Wasps
Saracens 22 – 12 Harlequins
Northampton Saints 24 – 30 Leicester Tigers
Sale Sharks 29 – 17 Bath
Newcastle Falcons 13 – 6 London Irish

4 from 6, home advantage worked for Gloucester but not Saints.

Amazingly this game was 0-0 at halftime, an early try in the second half was the difference between the sides on the scoreboard. Perhaps it should have been more than that as Gloucester were much more controlled and caused more turnovers, but they will be happy with a win.

The next one turned into a try fest of both sides, Wasps had the TBP wrapped up before halftime. Even though Warriors scored six tries they also missed five conversions and were never going to win this one.

Saracens saw of Quins at Wembley in front of 80 thousand people. Saracens were more deadly with ball in hand but 18 turnovers and 18 penalties really hampered their efforts. Two later tries in the first half pulled them away from Quins and both sides cancelled each other out in the second half.

Tigers got some early points on the board and from there kept their noses in front. Saints never got back into the lead but Tigers couldn’t pull clear either giving up 18 penalties. However even though Saints made more meters will ball in hand turning it over 18 times really happened their efforts.

Sharks maintained their impressive home record with a  win over Bath in this first of a double-header. After Sale led for much of the match Bath managed to come back and even things up just before the hour mark. A yellow card for Day eight minutes from time gave Sale the advantage they needed to score two tries and pull away.

Falcons did enough in a tense affair to win against their relegation rivals. The sides cancelled each other out for much of the game and a try in the first half proved to be the difference. This means that Irish are likely to get relegated but as you can see many people think they will be coming straight back up.

Super Rugby

Crusaders 32 – 15 Jaguares
Rebels 13 – 38 Hurricanes
Cheetahs 92 – 17 Sunwolves
Blues 23 – 18 Sharks
Waratahs 20 – 26 Brumbies
Bulls 41 – 22 Reds
Lions 29 – 22 Stormers

6 from 7, the Canes proved it wasn’t only playing the lower teams that led to their wins.

Dagg had a great come back for the Saders as the Jags just fell off too many tackles. The key to this game for the Saders was good hands to find the gaps.

The pitch in Melbourne was horrible and a sandpit in one corner causing Savea to fall over and allow a Rebels try. In the end it didn’t influence the result as Barrett had a great game and the Canes fitness and defensive line speed just throttled the Rebels.

The Sunwolves travel and low moral led to a really poor showing against the Cheetahs who aren’t a good side. It was just too east for them to pass the ball wide and run into wide open spaces being left for them.

The Sharks fed off the Blues errors to stay in this game as they had so little possession and territory. The Blues could keep hold of the ball but not do much with it and it took a moment of 7s magic to win a narrow one that should have been easy.

The Brumbies retained the ball well and used the wide backs to get the lead. But they couldn’t contain the struggling Tahs all game and they came back. In the end they held out but it was far from the convincing performance people are looking for a side that’s supposed to be title contenders.

The Bulls just had too much power for the travelling Reds. Gill’s drop goal will be replayed many times for years to come but it was all in a losing effort.

The Lions v Stormers started out as a kicking dual and it wasn’t until just before halftime that Lions managed to take control. An early second half try stretched that lead before the balance to the Lions game was tested as the Stormers came back. The Lions defence held out and a late drop goal slewed the deal. I’ve had a chance to talk to the high performance manager from the Lions about how they have turned things around and I hope to get that written up next week.

Pro12

Leinster 30 – 23 Edinburgh
Ospreys 47 – 10 Benetton Treviso
Scarlets 10 – 46 Glasgow Warriors
Zebre 17 – 47 Ulster
Connacht Rugby 35 – 14 Munster
Cardiff Blues 28 – 8 Newport Gwent Dragons

6 from 6, my 5th clean sweep of the season.

Scarlets have slipped out of the playoff places after going so well this season but should get into the Champions Cup at least. Munster might not even make that which is a big decline for the previous champions. Leinster, Connacht and Glasgow are all looking good with Ulster likely to take the last playoff slot.

Top 14

Grenoble 28 – 33 Castres
Section Paloise 9 – 25 Toulon
Brive 31 – 13 US Oyonnax
Clermont Auvergne 38 – 10 Agen
La Rochelle 22 – 15 Bordeaux Begles
Stade Francais 20 – 26 Montpellier
Toulouse 14 – 3 Racing Metro 92

Racing lost some ground on the top three as they were distracted by European matters. At the other end Agen and Oyonnax will need a miracle to overtake Stade as they are 16 and 14 points behind.

ProRugby

Denver 16 – 13 Ohio
Sacramento 37 – 25 San Francisco

The conditions were contrasting, Denver won in overtime surrounded by snow. In Sacramento it was so hot they had to close half the ground and the home side came through to win. A late try made the margin look more comfortable than the game really was. All in all a decent start for professional rugby in the USA.

Singapore 7s

This round was full of upsets and this pitted the top four teams against each other in the quarter finals opening things up. In the end Kenya beat Fiji in the final to become the 4th side to win a tournament this year.

Canada 7s

England beat New Zealand in the final to break the clean sweep of tournaments by Australia so far this year. This was the 4th stop of the series and there is just one more in France before the Rio Olympics.

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