It’s been a while since my last post!!! I’ve decided to do a shorter report on each game rather than just a score board and one report. I’m going to try to get back into the swing of things when I can. I have had many other rugby related commitments 🙂 Enjoy!
Newcastle Falcons 24 – 22 Bath Rugby
An on form Falcons side produced the performance they needed to overturn Todd Blackadder’s under-par Bath. Newcastle started with fire from the first whistle with Vereniki Goneva crossed after some brilliant phase play. Bath could not seem to break down the Newcastle defence but after some battering they responded. George Ford, who had a bad day at the office boot wise, exploited a Falcon flying out of the line and found the dog leg. The game became a bit scrappy after that but Semesa Rockoduguni snatched 2 tries. It seemed as if Newcastle were down and out but they stuck at it and scored 2 tries through Mark Wilson and replacement prop Ben Harris. The star man, Joel Hodgson, proceeded to kick the winning penalty giving Newcastle a hard-fought victory.
Saracens 13 – 13 Exeter Chiefs
A common cliche ‘a game of 2 halves’ certainly applies to this game as an Exeter dominant first half was turned on its head when Saracens managed to turn the tables and haul back the 2 points. The Chiefs were helped massively by a Richard Barrington red card just 11 minutes in. With the new rules, it was sort of inevitable that there was to be a red card on the weekend of their introduction. Steenson slotted a penalty but it was to be Jack Nowell, who has been on sensational form in the past few games, scored a well deserved exploiting a deft chip from Steenson. A few Alex Lozowski kicks shortened Exeter’s lead and finally Titi Lamositele crossed in the last few minutes and after Lozowski’s conversion, the teams were back on level pegging and that was the way it would end.
Northampton Saints 32 – 26 Bristol
Northampton took 5 points away from a game which could have swung in either teams favor. Northampton looked powerful and early on a dominant scrum and Louis Picamoles’ pick and go resulted in a clattering finish from the bustling Frenchman. Mitch Eade responded with a powerful run of his own and along with a penalty from Bristol’s sensational fullback, Jason Woodward, they took the lead. More power was involved when Northampton used their maul to muscle over through Mikey Haywood. Bristol dropped even further behind when Picamoles smashed through and offloaded to England hopeful Tom Wood to dash over. Bristol then scrapped the power game and played from their own 22. Jason Woodward used his Kiwi vision to spot a gap in behind the Saints. He chipped the ball over the top and Tom Varndell cottoned onto it. He drew in Ben Foden and passed the ball back to Woodward who scampered away. After Bristol had just snatched back the lead back, straight from kickoff a charged down kick bounced up perfectly for JJ Hanrahan. Harry Mallinder hit a drop goal late on to seal the deal despite a Bristol losing bonus point.
Harlequins 29 – 26 Sale Sharks
A late Sale comeback failed to knock down Harlequins lead. Too little too late. Sale scored the first try of the match when some lovely handling resulted in a 1 on 1 opportunity for Denny Solomona and with his footwork, there was only ever going to be one winner out wide. Harlequins used the pace in the backs and made a burst in which Mike Brown offloaded the ball superbly on the floor back up the Charlie Walker who dived over from short-range. Tim Sweil had been playing out of his skin and when Marland Yarde tapped the ball back after a kick and chase he ran onto the bouncing ball at speed and gassed away to finish a sensational solo effort. Byron McGuigan scored for Sale in the last 10 minutes and the Sharks still believed they could win. Flanker, TJ Ioane, certainly still beleived as he linked up with Solomona and kicked, yes kicked, the ball cross field to the rugby league convert he picked the ball up off his toes and scored. However it was only going to be the one point for Sale as they could not salvage a win.
Gloucester Rugby 55 – 19 Worcester Warriors
Gloucester’s mediocre may well have hit a turning point. Bitter rivals Worcester could not come near the Cherry and Whites in a dominant performance. Jonny May, who was superb, grabbed an early try when he picked the ball up 10 metres out and used his pace to get close enough to reach out and dot down. The England wing was then heavily involved in Matt Scott’s first score. Josh Hohneck turned the ball over and some great handling down the blind side put May in space. He then passed back inside to the Scottish centre who paced away. Cooper Vuna returned for the Warriors and he managed to pick the ball up in broken field and step his way through the Gloucester line for a great try. Billy Burns sparked a reply for Gloucester when he played a great flat pass to Jacob Rowan who put the afterburners on and sprinted through for a great score. Next came perhaps the score of the match. Scott chipped over the top to Jeremy Thrush who offloaded back inside to fellow Kiwi, prop John Afoa, and he used all of gas left in the tank to run in from the 22. Ben Vellacot, who was making an earlier than expected debut, used his vision to see some space down the blind side, tie in 2 players and find Charlie Sharples who just ran in from 2 metres out. Vellacot deserved a set up; he had been great on debut. Worcester were looking promising but some sloppy handling in midfield which Matt Scott exploited and ran all the way from the 22 to score despite the challenge of Jamie Shillcock. Worcester would them grab a second try through Tevita Cavuabati who just dived over from short-range. The Cherry and Whites responded again when they set up a good driving maul and managed to out-muscle the Warriors and Josh Hohneck was the man to dot down. The next try was to be the last and it was a controversial one. A rather obvious knock on from Alafoti Faosiliva was missed by referee Wayne Barnes. They played on and Faosiliva grounded but it was merely a consolation for Warriors.
Wasps 22 – 16 Leicester Tigers
Leicester were set to play their first game in 6 years without Richard Cockerill as their Director of Rugby. The Leicester board had decided that it was time to call an end to the former player’s reign as D.O.R and hand the job over to Aaron Mauger. However, Mauger’s reign did not start well. Elliot Daly grubbered through and 3 minutes in Leicester had seemed to have not woken up and Christian Wade was straight onto the score sheet. Then a few minutes later, Tommy Taylor profited off of a strong maul to score. The Tigers responded through the boot of Gloucester bound fly half, Owen Williams, but went into half time with a job on their hands. They came out the blocks firing when Peter Betham grounded the ball under alot of pressure. They then gained more points from the boot of Freddie Burns. James Haskell made his return although it only lasted 38 seconds. He went for a big hit on Burns and was instantly out cold. Hopefully he will not miss the start of the Six Nations like fellow flanker, Chris Robshaw, is expected to. Despite this loss, they did gain something when another England international, Dan Cole, was sent to the sin bin. Jimmy Gopperth hit the resulting penalty to seal the deal for Wasps although it could have been turned its head.