Newcastle Falcons hosted Bristol Bears in the tightest game of the weekend! Scoreless until 36 minutes. Callum Chick bundled himself over beneath the posts from excellent phase play, from the Falcons. In a - somewhat - alarming fashion, the Bears could not get into the game and were a shadow of their former selves from last season, often dazzling their opponents with south sea island flair.
However a piece of genius from Bristol’s ‘not-so-south sea islander’ Harry Randall - and an excellent performance to add - allowed Alapati Leiua to narrow the Falcon's lead after half-time, showing the Kingston Park crowd just how dangerous the Bears can be when they are on song. The game was eventually decided on penalties, with the Falcons being efficient from the tee and taking them beyond 7 points so Bristol come away with nothing.
Newcastle travel to Gloucester next week whilst Bristol have a week off, until their game with London Irish on October 30th.
After a tight contest a week prior, Sale hosted Harlequins in another game that went down to the wire, with only a point separating the two teams come the 78th minute. Both teams took turns in taking the lead throughout the match with Sale scoring early on from a fantastic break leading to a try, from Raphael Quirke. Nevertheless, the Harlequins were able to respond, with Quirke’s opposite number Danny Care scoring only 4 minutes later.
However, the real plaudits should be given to Tyrone Green, who picked a delectable line that sliced the entire Sale defence, and despite still having lots to do, finished fantastically in the right-hand corner to cap a wonderful solo try from the winger. With the second half finishing where it left off in the first, Sale were able to hold on with a second try from Quirke in the 79th minute to extend Sale’s lead to win the match.
Looking forward, Sale will travel to Welford Road against the league leaders Leicester Tigers (a game I will personally be watching), who will be taking confidence from the return of the monstrous duo of Manu Tuilagi and Tom Curry, in hopes of giving Leicester a game away from home. Biases aside, my predictions for this match will remain with the league leaders, who are unbeaten and do not look like stopping anytime soon.
Meanwhile, Harlequins host Bath at home, and I feel they will bounce back after this match - where they were very unfortunate to come away with only a point. This view is emphasised further by Saracens’ decimation of the south-west club (more to follow).
Wasps entertained Exeter at the Coventry Building Society Arena, but despite the home advantage, Wasps were slow to start. Henry Slade scored the first of the afternoon, from brilliant team interchanges in the middle of the park allowing him to score in the corner.
A second try was to follow shortly after when the Argentinian winger, Cordero, demonstrated his outstanding pace to burn his opposite number, Watson, on the outside. Wasps eventually responded from Frost off a driving maul, in a manner that would please Rugby's purists after the champagne rugby shown earlier by Chiefs. The lineouts proved to be effective as they score a second, almost identical to the first.
Exeter were not done! They proved their own might through the barrelling Sam Simmonds, taking it to a single point with 20 minutes left of the second half. After continuous pressure within Wasps' half, Chiefs had the last laugh with some excellent phases on the right hand side allowing Jonny Hill to show his killer instinct on the wing, scoring expertly in the corner that any true finisher would be proud of. He also enabled Exeter to come away with full points.
Exeter will play London Irish next weekend and Wasps will travel to Bath.
Teams from the South-West are having a tough start to this season, with Bristol, Worcester and Bath all languishing in the bottom three spaces in the table.
Bath are no exception having struggled against a very dominant Saracens side, who annihilated them 17-71. With tries from Itoje, Malins (3), George (2), Earl, Vunipola, Segun and Morris, there are seemingly no weak links within the Saracens side from last weekend. A team which has set a new record for themselves for the biggest ever away win - a win that showed the dismal Bath side 0-45 at half-time.
While there were consolidations from De Granville and Muir, Bath should be very worried about the direction their season is going following their close game with Sale at the beginning of the season. While the Saracens Coach was pleased with the result, he remained stoic in the victory, stressing that his team were “clinical” in their win, but it does not excuse Bath for simply not being good enough.
This could be season defining for both sides, with Saracens charging on for the title and Bath recuperating to avoid relegation. Next week, Saracens will play Wasps and Bath will play Harlequins.
It's an odd thing to say a team putting 40 points on an opponent was not the highest scoring team of the weekend - but you've seen the score above! Nonetheless, Leicester Tigers put on a show to dazzle Worcester Warriors in a routing at Sixways stadium. With a slew of tries from Potter, Moroni, Montoya, Wigglesworth, Dolly, Nadolo and Burns, it was flying-Fijian Nadolo who particularly impressed after setting up two tries and scoring one himself.
Worcester remained scoreless, bar a singular penalty, there was very little wrong with the performance from Tigers. The coach Steve Borthwick; however, will be remaining methodical and always analysing and looking forward to next game. Sale Sharks will be providing a much harder and much sterner test.
Worcester, on the other hand, will be remaining in the midlands for their next game, travelling to Franklin Gardens to play, an ever-growing in momentum, Northampton Saints squad. I can’t help but think we might have a repeat of this week next weekend.
Compared to the other games this weekend, a neutral fan might have overlooked this game as two side teams low in the table facing each other; HOWEVER, what evolved was interesting development of Irish’s continuous problems regarding consistency and Gloucester’s improvement under Scottish international Adam Hastings.
Crevey and Harris scored in quick succession to go 14-0 up early in the first half, but Ben Morgan responded after half time with a brace, both of which from a driving maul. The final Gloucester try was down to excellent poaching from Rees- Zammit, who flashed up and surprised Irish with an interception, while also casually blazing 75m without even need to hit high gear! Rogerson responded with a try to level the game at 25-25, where it remained a draw.
Gloucester will host Newcastle Falcons next weekend whilst London Irish will face Exeter.