Ben Coles looks back on another rugby weekend, sharing his thoughts on the best of the action. Let us know what you particularly enjoyed this weekend.
Gloucester’s win gives us a great excuse for a picture of Sinbad
Gloucester spring a surprise at the Rec
Starting where the weekend began on Friday night, Gloucester took on Bath at the Rec in abysmal conditions. There are times to play with ambition and, whilst courageous, in the wet on a Friday night is not the time. Bath learned this hard way, whilst Gloucester’s strategy given the weather was excellent, especially from fly half Nicky Robinson – the Welsh 10 was a drop goal away from a full house in an impressive kicking performance. You would have thought that Sir Ian McGeechan and Steve Meehan would have masterminded another home win, but Bryan Redpath will be in much better spirits than he has been so far this season.
Leinster triumph over Munster at the Aviva
Ahead of the Heineken Cup next week, two of Europe’s giants met at the Aviva Stadium in a tight game that saw Brian O’Driscoll’s try prove the difference. In front of an impressive crowd of 50,645, Munster missed the attacking threat of Keith Earls, and suffered their fifth loss in a row against the men from Dublin. It was a must win game for Leinster after three losses in four Magners League games so far this season, and it should give them a significant boost in the build up to another European campaign.
Walder snatches it at Sale
A drop goal in the 79th minute saw Wasps snatch a win at Edgeley Park away from Sale. Whilst Wasps’ form has been rather up and down, Walder so far has given a series of impressive performances, and although his opposite number Charlie Hodgson was similarly flawless in kicking 8 penalties, Walder’s 20-point haul proved crucial. Needless to say Sale coach Mike Brewer was less than pleased.
Irish stay top as the Premiership takes a break
After the first five round of Aviva Premiership rugby, Irish sit top after overcoming a very stern challenge from Leeds as they triumphed 40-24 at the Madejski. Northampton also defeated another relegation candidate in Exeter in a tighter-than-expected affair, holding off a second half comeback from the Chiefs. Along with Saracens, following their victory over Leicester where Derick Hougaard again starred scoring 16 points, you feel that it should be two of these three who will be competing in the final come May.
Meanwhile at the bottom, Leeds have just one point on the board after five games. Their spirit against Irish was admirable and some of their play very promising, but the results need to start coming, and soon.
Try of the weekend goes to Exeter’s Luke Arscott. No space, being tackled by two men, he still managed to dot down in the corner to get Exeter the losing bonus point at Franklin’s Gardens. A really high-quality finish.
This weekend’s Hero is Schalk Brits of Saracens. The “2” on the back of his shirt really is just a number; his running game and sidestep gave Leicester headaches all afternoon. He was on hand to go over after Chris Wyles’ break through the defence, and then brilliantly off-loaded out of the tackle to put in Richard Wigglesworth minutes later. His apparent concussion in the second half looked serious, but for the sake of the Premiership and Saracens’ Heineken Cup hopes, hopefully he won’t be out for too long.
The Villains of the weekend are a couple of creaking scrums. Newcastle and Saracens should expect some gruelling sessions on the scrum machine this week after both packs crumbled repeatedly, both resulting in referees Poite and White heading under the posts.
That’s all for this week, bring on the Heineken Cup action.
By Ben Coles (@bennycoles)