5 things we learnt from Round 9 of the Gallagher Premiership

Exeter are beatable

There you have it, Exeter’s fist loss of the season was on Friday night against Harlequins at a very lively Twickenham Stoop. It was a very close affair with only two points to separate the two teams at the final whistle, however, the stats show a slightly different story. Quins had 61% possession and 63% territory and an astonishing 510 meters were made by Mark Mapletoft’s men, a stat that never really gets put against Exeter. The Chiefs did rest some of their key players, mainly due to the fantastic depth that they have within their squad. Nevertheless, I think that even with more big names Harlequins still would have come away with the win. Exeter, in the dying stages of the game looked to possibly try and take the spoils away from the London club, following a late interception by Ian Whitten who went on to score. But Harlequins throughout the match didn’t look phased by the south-west giants and with a calm, composed performance showed that Exeter are beatable.

Tigers eaten alive by Bears

Former Leicester player, Harry Thacker scored two against his old club in a historic victory for the Bears in which Tigers were left with 14 men. It was Bristol’s biggest winning margin against Leicester in 182 games and one where the Tigers looked extremely poor. A red card in the first half for Kyle Eastmond left Tigers chasing Bristol for the rest of the match. After beating Bath in the first round of the Premiership, Bristol are proving that Ashton Gate is a hard place to go and play at. Their resilience and determination to never give in saw them fly pass a rather lacklustre Tigers side. The bottom line is that something has to change with Leicester. They are becoming a team that is no longer feared and Welford Road doesn’t fill many with dread at the moment. Take nothing away from Bristol, but Tigers need to find their form and improve pretty quickly.

There is still another level to come from Saracens

Hooker, Jamie George knows that his Saracens side still has a lot more on offer for the rest of the season: “The nice thing is we are not actually where we want to be. There are only a couple of games this season when we have been on it. I like that we are building towards something and that is the thing that excites me”. They are the team in the Premiership that could go unbeaten all season, with only Exeter currently giving them a run for their money. Saracens have a plethora of players to call upon when needed and they are all singing off the same hymn sheet. Everyone knows what they need to do and how they are going to achieve it. They defiantly seem as if they have another level that they will bring to their game, if not two.

Worrying times at Wasps

After announcing that a third of Wasps senior players are up for contract negotiations at the end of the season and that the 17/18 season saw the club total a loss of £9.7 million, my heart does go out to the Coventry based club. After moving to the Richo Arena in the hope of turning around the colossal losses that the club were making at Adams Park, things haven’t seemed all that merry for them. On the field, they are missing a lot of key individuals who make the team gel together. Dan Robson, Joe Launchbury and Jimmy Gopperth to name a few are still all out nursing their injuries. With the uncertainty that surrounds the club at the moment, it does seem to be replicating on the pitch. Wasps last season were a formidable force and had the best attack in the Premiership. A back-line that was feared and an attacking force that could score tries from anywhere. Nevertheless, this season has been entirely different and they have yet to find their sting.

An established club could be facing the relegation battle

Personally, I cannot see Bristol heading back down to the Championship at the end of the season. They have too much determination and drive to stay up, in addition they have some extremely talented players with a lot of experience behind them! So, who does look like they might be taking the step down the league? Both Newcastle and Sale have been poor this season and haven’t been able to keep up with the teams they have been playing.

Not only them, but Northampton do look in trouble at the moment and are currently sitting in 10thplace, not where they want to be if they have any hope of making top flight European rugby next year. Currently, there isn’t much difference in points between 6thand 12thplace and everyone in-between isn’t currently performing at their best. As we head into the ‘business end’ of the season, it will be extremely interesting to which clubs will fight for their place in the Gallagher Premiership.