Weekend Rugby Review – 5 September

A big kickoff for both the Aviva Premiership and Pro12 as well as the other leagues around the world still going on. Here’s my round-up of all the action.

Aviva Premiership

Gloucester Rugby 31 – 38 Leicester Tigers
Newcastle Falcons 19 – 17 Sale Sharks
Saracens 35 – 3 Worcester Warriors
Northampton Saints 14 – 18 Bath
Harlequins 21 – 19 Bristol
Wasps 25 – 20 Exeter Chiefs

4 from 6, an average start to the season.

The Aviva Premiership opening with a try fest. After an early exchange of tries, Gloucester built themselves a handy first half lead with tries from Sharpes and a second from Scott. At 24-7 Gloucester were in control and they then extended that lead early in the second half with their forth try trying up the TBP. Tigers though came fight back into it and the stat that really tells the story is:

Gloucester 1 / 3 (33%) Mauls Won 13 / 14 (93%) Tigers

All the talk coming into this season has been about the Tigers backs and exciting attacking but it’s the forwards who did the business here. Tigers, helped by Kvesic’s yellow card, scored 3 second half tries to also bag the TBP and take the win.

Falcons won a tight 1 over Sale and a missed kick at the death along with only a 60% kicking accuracy might look like the cause it was really defence. You can’t miss 31 tackles and expect to win in this league. That meant that Falcons managed 200 more meters carried with only 33% of the possession. Falcons really should have had this one put to bed and will need to be more clinical going forwards. For Sale it’s worrying that their travelling woes will already be playing on their minds.

Worcester held Saracens in the first half and only trailed by 6-3 at the break. But in the second half it was 1 way traffic and as Saracens stamped their authority on the game. It was the forwards that did the business and they picked up 2 of the tries. Lozowski had a good debut with a  try and making most office kicks. He arrives as having potential and due to Farrell’s injury got to start the opening game. Saracens got their TBP win and that leaves Worcester as the only team without a point.

In wet conditions the Saints v Bath game all came down to playing the conditions the best. Ford had a great day with the boot, 100% kicking sticks to score all of Bath’s points. A brave decision to start Harry Mallinder backfired a bit as he missed 2 kicks at sticks. However it wasn’t all down to him 22 offloads to Bath’s 6 tells you who was trying the more adventurous rugby. That might payoff when it’s drier but Jim Mallinder’s comment lets you know it wasn’t right for this game. Saints didn’t get on the board until the 74th minute and that proved too late.

Bristol made the most of the opportunities that Quins handed the with an intercept try and another from a poor clearance kick. That game them a hand lead heading toward halftime but Quins grabbed 2 tries of their own off driving mauls to lead into the break. The second included a TMO controversy as it looked like the move included a forward pass. Bristol added a third try after a good move led to a kick and chase, Quins spilled the ball back over their line and Bristol were back into the lead. The Boot of Nick Evans saved the day as territory pressure eventually told. Quins will have to be much more clinical than this but it’s a positive sign from Bristol who have their first point.

Exeter got an early score through the try machine that is Thomas The Tank Waldrom and after an exchange of penalties maintained that lead through most of the first half. A Gopperth try pulled Wasps back but Chudley replied straight afterwards so that Exeter entered the break 8-17 up. A penalty stretched the lead out to 12 points but after that it was 1 what traffic as Wasps came back. 2 tries and a penalty at the death were enough to see the home side to the victory. The real stat that stood out was turnovers, Exeter gave up 18 compared to Wasps 10 and if you give teams that much ball you are going to struggle.

Pro12

Leinster 20 – 8 Benetton Treviso
Ospreys 59 – 5 Zebre
Ulster 29 – 8 Newport Gwent Dragons
Scarlets 13 – 23 Munster
Connacht Rugby 5 – 41 Glasgow Warriors
Cardiff Blues 34 – 16 Edinburgh

4 from 6, considering the first 3 were obvious that’s a poor opening weekend of picking.

The first 3 games went to script even if Leinster and Ulster were kept in check more than some of us would have expected. Munster pulled off a good win and maybe the new coaching setup won’t take too long to bed in. Cardiff also got a good win, the win was expected but the margin will and style will give their fans confidence that they could challenge to top half of the tablet this season. However the real statement result was Glasgow putting 41 points past the reigning champions. They clearly are looking to regain their title and results like these will mean that any losses due to international call-ups won’t be so damaging later in the season.

Top 14

Stade Francais 30 – 30 Clermont Auvergne
Castres 18 – 26 La Rochelle
Lyon 32 – 13 Grenoble
Section Paloise 25 – 9 Bayonne
Toulon 21 – 25 Brive
Bordeaux Begles 15 – 32 Montpellier
Racing Metro 92 28 – 14 Toulouse

2 from 7, with upsets all over the shop it’s not as bad as it looks but still poor. Interesting all 3 rounds have included a draw so far this season.

Brive and La Rochelle top the table with 2 wins and a draw each. Clermont are the other undefeated side with 1 win and 2 draws in fourth place. At the other end Grenoble are the only team still looking for a win.

Currie Cup

Griquas 47 – 24 Eastern Province Kings
Boland Cavaliers 25 – 22 Pumas
Blue Bulls 31 – 17 Lions
Cheetahs 57 – 25 Eastern Province Kings
Western Province 34 – 27 Sharks

4 from 5, I didn’t think the Sharks would lose their first game of the season.

Even with that first loss of the season the Sharks remain on top of the table by 1 point. The Cheetahs though do have a game in hand and are the only team to remain unbeaten. At the other end of the table the Kings have just 1 bonus point and whilst the Pumas are also waiting for their first win they have gathered 5 bonus points from their 4 games.

Mitre10 Cup

Otago 33 – 28 Northland
Hawke’s Bay 20 – 48 Counties Manukau
Southland 16 – 51 Auckland
Tasman 25 – 20 Taranaki
Wellington 21 – 17 North Harbour
Northland 34 – 52 Canterbury
Bay of Plenty 32 – 33 Otago
Waikato 19 – 10 Manawatu

6 from 8, at some point I’ll have faith in Waikato to retain the Log’o Wood.

In the Premiership Canterbury maintained their perfect start to the season with 3 bonus point wins. They are changed by 4 teams on 2 wins. At the bottom it’s looking ominous for Hawk’s Bay who are the only winless team.

The Championship sees Otago leading with 3 bonus points wins chased by Manawatu and Wellington with 2 wins each. Northland, Bay of Plenty and Southland all remain winless. This is possible as there are cross over games between the Premiership and Championship.

NRC

Sydney Rays 28 – 8 Perth Spirit
Brisbane City 44 – 36 Western Sydney Rams
Melbourne Rising 46 – 32 Queensland Country
University of Canberra Vikings 28 – 60 NSW Country Eagles

3 from 4, the Eagles really have put the cat amongst the pigeons!

The Rays top the table by 1 point from the Eagles, however the Eagles have beaten the 2 preseason favourites in the opening 2 rounds. At the other end the Rams and Queensland Country are both still looking for their first wins.

#RugbyChat

Join the #RugbyChat on twitter for an hour of discussion about the action this weekend. If you can’t make the hour then you can still give your view as the conversation keeps kicking off over the following day.

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