Weekend Rugby Review – 31 October

Another big weekend of domestic rugby as the season comes to a close in the Southern Hemisphere with the finals of the Mitre10 Cup in New Zealand. Here’s my round-up of all the action from around the globe.

Aviva Premiership

Northampton Saints 23 – 20 Gloucester Rugby
Harlequins 36 – 14 Worcester Warriors
Saracens 24 – 10 Leicester Tigers
Wasps 31 – 6 Newcastle Falcons
Bristol 13 – 31 Sale Sharks
Exeter Chiefs 10 – 13 Bath

4 from 6, it was going so well until I went against the grain with the last 2.

Saints opened the weekend with a tight victory over Gloucester. They got the opening try when Gloucester defence was cut open but that was a rare occurrence. Gloucester really lost this game rather than Saints winning it. They had twice as many clean breaks and more meters with fewer runs. However the stat that lost this was kicking sticks. Saints were 100% where are Gloucester were only 56% and if you leave that many points out there you won’t win many games.

At first glance you’d think that Quins were all over Worcester but that wasn’t the case. Quins got an early interception try against the run of play and Worcester pulled that back so that it was 7-7 at the break. Quins scored 2 quick tries after the break only for Worcester to get themselves back into it with their second try. Another intercept try though sealed the game for Quins before they rounded off the game with their fifth try late on. If it wasn’t for those 2 intercept tries the scoreboard pressure would have been very different and it would have been really interesting to see how that would have played out. In the end Quins defend their perfect him record and the stats suggest that there were no mauls in the entire game.

Saracens had the game fully under control as they pulled out a 24-3 lead soon after halftime. From there though Tigers attempted a comeback with Freddie Burns coming off the bench to pull the strings. A couple of moments of magic from him pulled back 1 try but it was too little too late. Saracens had to make 165 tackles which was 3 times more than Tigers but only miss 17 which was 1 more than Tigers. Tigers really need to improve their defence as making only 70% of your tackles will always leak points.

Wasps got the TBP win over Falcons bringing Newcastle back down to earth as they drop out of the top 6. The stats say that this was a much more even game than the scoreline suggests but that Wasps were more clinical and better disciplined. There was nearly another try for Wasps as Sinoti was very lazy running back for a kick. That along with the captain Welch’s late needless yellow card suggest there might be some attitude issues in the squad.

Bristol are now officially in big trouble, they were never in this game as Sale 17-0 lead early in the second half. When Bristol did get an opportunity with a penalty advantage in the Sale 22, it felt like they opted for the 3 rather than trying something for a try. Then the scoreboard pressure meant that later in the game they tried a cross field kick in their own 22 only for Sale to catch it and score another try. Bristol are 7 points behind Worcester and have the worst points difference by some distance. Sale climbed into the top half of the table and will be happy with their afternoons work.

The headlines are that Rokoduguni stole the game with a try after time had run out. In reality Exeter shouldn’t have been anywhere near. Bath were much more effective with ball in hand but lacked the execution to take advantage. Turning over the ball 21 times will always relieve pressure and make it hard to build momentum. Also Exeter’s discipline really let them down giving up 15 penalties to just 5 from Bath. Some how though they were in the lead as time ran out and a couple of weak tackles meant Roko could run in the winning points.

Pro12

Ulster 14 – 15 Munster
Edinburgh 14 – 19 Zebre
Glasgow Warriors 31 – 14 Benetton Treviso
Cardiff Blues 15 – 26 Scarlets
Ospreys 35 – 17 Newport Gwent Dragons
Leinster 24 – 13 Connacht Rugby

3 from 6, Friday night was an amazing evening of upsets!

The top of the table is very tight with Leinster, Ospreys and Glasgow all on 26 points. It’s great to see that the top 3 sides all come from different countries. The big movers have been Scarlets who have climbed into the top half of the table at Cardiff’s expense. This is really good news after we were talking about a top and bottom half split a few weeks ago. It looked like the top and bottom 6 were going to stay the same but this is showing that the competition has a long way to go. Even though Zebre got a first away victory in Scotland they remain in the bottom 2 with Treviso but are on the same points as Dragons.

Top 14

Pau 20 – 24 Toulouse
Montpellier 12 – 11 La Rochelle
Stade Francais 25 – 19 Lyon
Toulon 42 – 12 Grenoble
Bayonne 3 – 16 Racing Metro 92
Castres 33 – 27 Bordeaux Begles
Brive 16 – 40 Clermont Auvergne

6 from 7, so close to the clean sweep!

Clermont stay top with a 5 point lead over Montpellier. La Rochelle were the only side in the top half of the table to loss which leaves them in fourth and 3 points behind the chasing duo of Montpellier and Toulon. At the other end Castres win lifts them clear of the relegation fight with Bayonne and Grenoble still in the last 2 spots.

Mitre10 Cup

Otago 14 – 17 North Harbour
Canterbury 43 – 27 Tasman

1 from 2, North Harbour timed their run to perfection.

North Harbour won a very tight encounter to win the Championship final and gain promotion into the Premiership next year. Otago were the standout team in the Championship during the regular season but it all comes down to timing your form for 1 game.

Canterbury confirmed the dominance we saw in the regular season by winning the Premiership final by a comfortable margin. It was a good send off for their head coach who will be replacing Blackadder at the Crusaders next season.

With the end of the rugby season we switch to the touch rugby season down south. I’m feeling stiff after our first game of the season and maybe need to review my recovery methods.

#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 going over the following day.

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