Premiership table showing some unusual placings after three rounds
The bigger clubs may not like it, but the Rugby World Cup definitely makes the Premiership more interesting. Harlequins and Exeter are the surprising teams leading the way going into Round 4, and their performances have certainly been worthy of spots 1 & 2 in the table.
In fact, Harlequins win over Gloucester last weekend was the most impressive result thus far of the new campaign. Played out in horrendous conditions (trust me, I was there), Gloucester simply couldn’t handle the hard running of Quins pack around the fringes, as Nick Evans boot kept them ahead. Missing Tom Guest, Nick Easter and Will Skinner in the back row, man of the match Luke Wallace, who grabbed two tries, and number 8 Chris York were both excellent alongside captain Chris Robshaw. Their aggression in the loose combined with powerful lines in the centre from George Lowe and Jordan Turner-Hall proved to be at the core of everything Quins did right.
Elsewhere, there were late wins for London Irish and struggling Leicester up at Kingston Park against Newcastle, with the relegation favourites putting in an excellent performance. Only Steve Mafi’s late try prevented the Falcons of a big win, and the sadness in Alan Tait’s voice speaking in the tunnel reflected just how gutted Newcastle felt. However, if they put in performances like that every week, then safety should be guaranteed.
Irish meanwhile picked up their first win of the season thanks to a controversial late penalty from Tom Homer. After narrowly losing out to Sale last weekend at Edgeley Park, Irish were on the road for the third time this season, and a Nick Kennedy try in the second half and Homer’s boot saw them pick up a valuable win, with 10 of their squad still to come back from injury and the Rugby World Cup.
Wasps heroics from last weekend against Leicester did not come to pass for a second time against Sale, with the Sharks forward pack putting in another great shift this time on the road. Wasps early season momentum has been perhaps only been temporarily halted, and Dai Young will be expecting a response next week against Exeter next week. There were also wins for Saracens at home to Worcester, the Warriors second defeat of the season, and for Bath at home to high-flying Exeter in torrential conditions at the Rec.
Leinster lose again as the Ospreys win in Italy
Despite missing plenty of their best players away at the Rugby World Cup, it’s business as usual for Munster, Ulster and the Ospreys in the RaboDirect Pro12 League. The Ospreys win in Italy was perhaps the most impressive of the weekend, with highly rated flanker Justin Tipuric scoring the winning try in a 27-32 victory against Bennetton Treviso. Meanwhile Ulster centre Darren Cave ran in two tries in their convincing victory over Cardiff Blues as they continued their good start to the season as well. There were also wins for Munster, Newport-Gwent Dragons, Edinburgh and Glasgow.
Try of the Weekend goes to Dan Hipkiss of Bath. Breaking from well within his own half, the former Leicester left five Exeter defenders trailing behind him as he raced towards the line, showing impressive pace and strength.
This weekend’s Hero is London Irish’s Tom Homer. The full back controlled his nerves in the 77th minute and nailed the winning kick.
On the flip side of that penalty, the Villain for the weekend is referee Martin Fox, for missing a blatant knock-on in the build up to the moment where the penalty was awarded. Northampton have every right to feel aggrieved.
by Ben Coles