Weekend Rugby Review – 2 January

Happy New Year and 2017 kicked off with domestic action. Here’s my round-up of all the action.

Aviva Premiership

Newcastle Falcons 30 – 34 Wasps
Bath 11 – 17 Exeter Chiefs
Sale Sharks 23 – 24 Bristol
Leicester Tigers 12 – 16 Saracens
Worcester Warriors 24 – 17 Harlequins
Gloucester Rugby 12 – 13 Northampton Saints

2 from 6, oh dear starting the year with a shocker!

Wasps went top of the table with a TBP win but this is 1 that Falcons should really have won. They started brightly with 2 tries and it took a moment of magic from Cipriani to get Wasps onto the scoreboard. Falcons were in this up until the end and goal kicking was all that separated these 2 sides with Wasps knocking all of theirs over whilst Falcons were only 67% from the tee.

Bath led for most of this match as some poor kicking from Exeter let Roko run wild. With a combined 57 defenders beaten it’s amazing that only 3 tries were scored in this game. The afore-mentioned Rokoduguni got Bath’s only try after a couple of Ford penalties as Bath kept Exeter scoreless in the first half. Exeter returned the favour in the second half but it wasn’t until the last 10 minutes that they got on the scoreboard. 2 tries to Short was enough to win the game but Bath were upset to be reduced to 14 men due to uncontested scrums. They lost 3 props to HIAs and you have to wonder who will be available in 6 days time against Falcons?

Sharks allowed themselves to be dragged into the relegation battle as they were unable to push home their advantage against Bristol. Sharks led 15-0 after 32 minutes and were leading 23-10 in the second half. Both times Bristol showed the resolve to get themselves back into the game. Varndell equalled the all time Premiership try scoring record as he picked up with 90th and showed why Bristol signed him.

The stats say that Tigers should have won this game as they had the better possession, missed less tackles and gave up less pantries. They did turnover the ball more though and it was from 1 of those that Farrell pounced as he scored all Saracens points. In the end this could have gone either way as both sides have a poor night kicking sticks. It proved a loss too far though and Cockerill has lost his job at Tigers.

Warriors responded in the best possible way to their loss away to Bristol. They went about building a lead and got to 21-0. It wasn’t until after the hour mark that Quins got on the scoreboard and by then it was too little too late. Worcester though will have to up their game against sides that travel better, missing 41 tackles just isn’t good enough at this level.

Gloucester Saints wasn’t a great advert for rugby as those that did brave the rain were treated to more than a kick a minute. Gloucester did the right thing by building a lead from the boot. Saints just kept themselves in the game and finally fashioned an overlap. The defender knew he had to intercept or it was a try, unfortunately for him he didn’t take the ball and adjudged to have deliberately knocked it on. That penalty try was enough to win the game for Saints.

Pro12

Zebre 19 – 24 Edinburgh
Benetton Treviso 28 – 35 Glasgow Warriors
Leinster 22 – 7 Ulster
Connacht Rugby 9 – 16 Munster
Scarlets 15 – 10 Cardiff Blues
Newport Gwent Dragons 0 – 10 Ospreys

5 from 6, I had too much faith in Zebre to pull off an upset.

It was a simple story this week as the top half of the table beat the bottom half of the table. The only exceptions were where Edinburgh gained revenge on Zebre in a bottom of the table clash and Leinster saw off Ulster at the other end. I means we have an Irish & Welsh playoff picture with Munster, Ospreys, Leinster and Scarlets in the top 4.

Top 14

Lyon 19 – 16 Bordeaux Begles
Pau 32 – 27 Montpellier
Stade Francais 12 – 10 Brive
Castres 47 – 18 Bayonne
Toulouse 26 – 20 Clermont Auvergne
La Rochelle 40 – 3 Grenoble
Toulon 17 – 11 Racing Metro 92

4 from 7, I broke the rule of always pick the home side in France.

Clermont still lead the way but are only 1 point ahead of La Rochelle after losing to Toulon Who sit in fourth. Montpellier also lost but hold on to third. It’s congested between fifth and eleventh with no gaps bigger than 2 points. Lyon opened some breathing space at the bottom with Grenoble 10 points back and Bayonne further 2 off the pace.

#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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