Aviva Premiership Round 2: 5 things we learned


1. Marland Yarde is the real deal

The season’s barely begun but already Yarde is starting to look like the complete package and chances are he’ll be among the top try scorers come the end of the 2013/14 season. He took two tries in great fashion on Saturday, including a 40 metre run-in, and his finishing is lethal. He’s a big lad who is hungry for the ball and England could do a lot worse than the 21-year old who already has two international tries after just one cap against Argentina in June. With fans unimpressed with Chris Ashton’s international form, maybe Marland is the answer. A special mention to David Strettle who also scored twice at the weekend and now has 10 Premiership tries in his last 12 games.

2. What a difference a week makes

After Sale’s surprise win at Gloucester last week and after Newcastle were dominated at home by Bath, most people would have had money on the Sharks being the victors when the two sides met on Friday night (including this writer). So the shock of the round goes to the Falcons who just managed to squeeze in a win, courtesy of four penalties by Phil Godman and one from Rory Clegg. Unlike their match against Bath, Newcastle were equal to their opponents up front and managed to put the squeeze on them in the scrum, helping them to a narrow 14-15 victory.

3. Wasps have a serious Devon hoodoo

Wasps came into the season with plenty of optimism, but find themselves two games in and still without a win. They came agonisingly close on the opening day, and played well again against Exeter, but eventually lost out to the Devon team 30-26. They have now failed to beat Exeter in their last six games, not a stat anyone at the Wycombe club will relish.

4. Saints are a team for all seasons

After destroying Exeter last week with an impressive attacking display on a firm pitch in dry weather, Northampton were then able to beat Harlequins on Friday with a streetwise display in the wet. They kept the ball in tight, sent strong runners crashing over the gainline and used their strong scrum and rolling mauls to full effect. Just two games into the season, they are by far the most impressive team; they are structured and if they keep up this impressive form whatever the weather, they have to be amongst the favourites for the title.

5. Props in the spotlight more than ever

Props were in the public eye quite a lot this weekend, most notably Nick Wood for stamping on Jacques Burger, but fair play to the guy, he looked distraught and couldn’t wait to apologise. Joe Marler was true to himself and looked like he wanted to fight every man in a Saints shirt, but by far the biggest error by a prop this weekend was Davey Wilson. An error that will have every old-school prop rolling in his grave or spitting out his ale. An error that will ensure that every time Wilson props down this season, his opposite man is going to have a dig at him. What is this dreadful error you ask? Davey Wilson wore white boots. Need I say more?

By Calum Gillon (@C_Gillon)

Photo by: Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images

6 thoughts on “Aviva Premiership Round 2: 5 things we learned

  1. Really hoping we see a back 3 of Foden, Yarde and Wade in the AIs. Serious pace, intelligent running lines and some distribution skills. Oh to see wingers running off a fast countering full back carrying the ball in 2 hands again.

  2. Heres hoping Stuart Lancaster sees the light and starts Yarde as he is far more lethal and hungry than Ashton, Ashton has been meandering in an England shirt for the last year or so and some real competition may shake him and his massive ego up.

    Yarde I agree looks the real deal, his running lines, dodging and weaving out of tackles without loosing pace and the miraculous recovery to score a try, in all seriousness the last comment shows his alertness on the pitch even though he was not involved in the play.

    I agree with Matt about the back three but would have Mike Brown tussling for the 15 jersey, not on the wing please we have plenty of decent stock that play in this position.

  3. I agree at the mo Yarde, Wade and Foden are the back three we need for England. But by playing Brown on the wing, Lancaster has made him an excellent choice for the 23 shirt. Now we know he can do a job on the wing, and is very comfortable at full back. There are a number of wingers who could do a job at full back, but personally I would rather see a full back covering wing than the other way round.
    Ashton and Strettle have made a good start to this season though, and although Ashton may not be scoring tries like Yarde is, he has been putting a lot of work in around the pitch. Strettle has bulked up a bit this season, and is a lot stronger than people think. He chases everything and has improved his tackling as well, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see him in Lancaster’s squad for the AI’s. Brown or Strettle for the 23 shirt?? There’s only one way to find out…………………..fight!!!!!

    1. Strettle has had his chances now, despite the good club form I don’t see him getting back into the international picture.

      Brown is looking like a nearly man. Good boot, good under the high ball, good tackler, good pace, decent power …. but it’s 18 caps and no tries. Nor is he a try provider as he’s not a passer/offloader.

      I think both have come up a bit short at international level so we’ve got to look at alternates and move on from those guys.

      As for the 23 shirt, I think it’s made for Eastmond, covering 5 positions in the back line and those fast feet will be lethal against a fatigued opposition.

      Fingers crossed Ashton stays fit and finds his mojo as, on form, he’s our only proven international finisher. Relying on a 21 and a 22 year old with 2 caps between them isn’t ideal.

  4. Yarde looks so good. So inevitably next season he won’t be playing for London Irish!

    White boots? Outrageous. Does he think he is a back?

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