What a weekend
Everyone can finally breath! This weekend was packed with sensational matches, teams fighting for survival, trying to make top four – it had everything. Let’s start on Friday night where Newcastle narrowly lost to Tigers, or how I like to put it; Tigers were saved by a Mr Guy Thompson. Thompson’s performance on Friday night was superb and was one of the key reasons Leicester came away with the win. Moving onto Saturday and I don’t think anyone could have predicted the scores. Harlequins lost by one point to Northampton; which is now their fourth consecutive loss. Worcester thrashed Sale as they fought to stay in the premiership and deny Sale of any top four chance. Gloucester and Danny Cipriani came back to win the West Country derby and Bristol, yes Bristol beat current reigning champions Saracens. And who can forget Sunday when Wasps won at Sandy Park for the first time in their history. With three games left we can only imagine what the table might look like…Embed from Getty Images
By the skin of your Tiger teeth
Tigers really needed that win and when 80 minutes struck you could see the relief on the faces of Leicester. It wasn’t pretty and it was very intense and if the premiership was ring-fenced then the game wouldn’t have been what it was, but at the end of the day, Leicester finally got the job done. They should now be safe and can have a little bit of breathing space. Guy Thompson arguably had the game of his career, earning himself the man of the match shirt. George Ford had a good game as captain but one area made me lose a lot of respect for the England fly-half. Following a try, you have 90 seconds for the kicker to make the conversion. Ten minutes left on the clock and a kick right in front of the posts and Ford decides to take all the allocated time, he is of course in his rights but I think that it was extremely poor sportsmanship, as did members of the booing crowd. It also showed that Leicester were starting to panic and were willing to do anything to take any time off of the clock, proving what a threat Newcastle were in that game.
The win wasn’t anything to write home about, but it does make Leicester’s life a whole lot easier for the final three rounds. Embed from Getty Images
The Ashton Gate effect
Bristol beat Saracens. I’ll repeat that, Bristol beat Saracens and against a good Saracens side. A last-minute penalty saw the bears beat the reigning champions as they looked to cement their place in the premiership for next season. Saracens had the players and the experience and had huge names on the bench but couldn’t quite make it work as Bristol once again beat another big-name side. Pat Lam had aspirations for his side to make top six at the end of the season, and although that hasn’t quite been a success the way they have been building and the amount of time and effort they have taken to build a game plan that works for them in the premiership should be applauded. Their win might have only been by a small margin but it is still a win and at this stage of the season that is all they need. I have to give Bristol full credit in the way that they have performed this season and they, along with the success of Exeter when they were promoted from the Championship and the current bottom of the table antics this season are the reason the premiership should never be ring-fenced. Embed from Getty Images
Where have Worcester been all season?
Wales’ Josh Adams’ second-half hat trick helped Worcester secure one of their best wins this season. Not only was this win important it was extremely impressive given Sale’s recent form but raises the questions, where has this performance been hiding and why are we only seeing it now? Worcester hadn’t beaten the Sharks since 2016 but as seen this season Steve Diamond’s men haven’t travelled well. The injection of belief and pace shown by Worcester arguably wouldn’t have appeared had the premiership been ring-fenced and that their performance was a realisation that relegation is a real possibility for them.
Sale on the other hand, last week I posed the question as to whether they could make it into the top four but after their display at Sixways, Steve Diamond is right – they aren’t a top four side. Their season has been really inconsistent but they are building in the right direction for the next couple of seasons. Embed from Getty Images
After being 12-0 down after a quarter of the match played, Wasps fan were in fear of a whitewash defeat, however, the visitors soon found their buzz and took a 12-26 lead at half time. From then on Dai Youngs’ men dominated the game and failed to let Exeter anywhere near them. It was one of the best Wasps performances we have seen all season, their defence was truly outstanding and pushed the Chiefs away from the gain-line on multiple occasions. Although it was a triumphant Wasps performance Exeter did take their foot off the pedal after ensuring they secured their home semi-final place. Nevertheless, take nothing away from the Wasps as for the first time in their history they won at Sandy Park, and as any side in the premiership knows to go down to Devon and win is truly a huge achievement as Exeter don’t get beaten at home often. Embed from Getty Images