As the season heads into the serious competition around Europe, the games are getting bigger and better. Here are the best bits:
Harlequins and Leicester set to meet at Twickenham for Aviva Premiership final
The league table’s top two will fight it out at Twickenham in two weeks time for the Aviva Premiership title, after Harlequins and Leicester Tigers won at home. Northampton lead by 8 points at The Stoop with minutes remaining, but a powerful drive from the Harlequins forwards saw Joe Marler touch down before Nick Evans kicked the decisive points.
Leicester were without Toby Flood but George Ford capably stepped in to run the show from fly-half against Saracens, setting up a crucial try for Steve Mafi and kicking 14 points to reach their 8th successive final. The Tigers have gone from 11th place at the end of October to title contenders in a remarkable turnaround, inspired by the good work of Matt O’Connor and Richard Cockerill. They now face Harlequins on May 26th.
Leinster squeeze past Glasgow as the Ospreys hammer Munster
A try from winger David Kearney proved the difference in Dublin as Leinster progressed to their second successive RaboDirect Pro12 final. They were outscored two tries to one by Glasgow but points from the boot of Johnny Sexton were enough to grab the win. In the end a couple of missed Duncan Weir penalties cost the Warriors victory, but their improvement this season has been outstanding.
There was nothing contentious about the Ospreys win however, with the 2010 champions routing Munster at the Liberty Stadium, scoring five tries in the process. Playing with real width and ambition and attacking Munster at the breakdown, the Ospreys never dropped their intensity throughout, impressive in defence and meaning the final in a fortnight’s time will perhaps be a far closer affair than people previously thought.
The Reds are back as the Blues finally win in Super Rugby
It’s been a difficult season for the champions, but the Reds finally came good with a win against league leaders the Chiefs in Brisbane in a nine-try thriller. The visitors looked set for another win at 22-8 up but Ben Lucas sparked the comeback with a try as the Reds raced away to win. Their loss meant that the Bulls moved top after beating the Waratahs on Friday. There was also success for the Blues for only the second time this season, a crucial home win against the Lions easing the pressure on Pat Lam.
A hugely successful weekend at the London 7s saw Fiji win the title but New Zealand clinch yet another World Series after beating South Africa in the quarter-final. There was also success for the England Womens side who won the IRB Challenge Cup.
Try of the Weekend goes to Kahn Fotuali’i for finishing off the Ospreys breakaway try, with Richard Fussell and Joe Bearman playing important roles.
The weekend’s Hero is Joe Marler for being at the bottom of the pile when it mattered for Harlequins.
The Lions are this week’s Villains after yet another poor Super Rugby performance, putting their future into real doubt.
by Ben Coles