Scarlets hold off Ospreys, Leinster beat Munster
Scarlets were made to fight to the death against the lowly Ospreys in Swansea. Dan Biggar had eked out a 9-0 lead for the hosts, but Gareth Davies got a brace in the second half to seize the lead. Samson Lee also got on the scoresheet with a try for the Scarlets, but they couldn’t pull comfortably clear and seal a bonus point as Biggar’s boot kept them in losing bonus point territory 19-18.
One of the two Irish derbies this weekend ended with Munster sinking 23-17 to Leinster, despite outscoring them three tries to two. Leinster’s Johnny Sexton became his club’s all-time leading scorer as he kicked 13 points. It allowed the blues to keep up the pressure on Ulster and Scarlets ahead of them in Pool B and gave them an ideal warm-up for their tough Champions Cup group.
Edinburgh got back to winning ways with a tight victory over Zebre at home 16-15. Fellow Scots Glasgow became the first team to beat Cheetahs in South Africa, with an impressive 29-26 win that keeps their winning momentum going into the Champions Cup. The other Welsh derby resulted in a massive 43-29 win for Cardiff against Dragons. Ulster were made to work for their 16-8 victory over Connacht, which keeps them in the frame in the upper echelons of Pool B. Southern Kings miserable welcoming to the Pro14 continued with a 31-3 loss to Benetton.
Gloucester halt Saints, Tigers cling on
A run of four straight victories came to an end for Northampton against surprise opposition in Gloucester. The Aviva Premiership’s very own take on Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic novel ‘The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde’ showed their better side with a 29-24 victory. Henry Trinder and Jamie Gibson exchanged tries in the first half, before Gloucester broke away early in the second. Saints staged a late rally, securing their own bonus points, but couldn’t quite wrestle the result in their favour.
Tigers early dominance wasn’t enough to seal what should have been a bonus-point win over London Irish. They did manage the victory, but after tries from Nick Malouf, Will Evans and the free-scoring Johnny May, it should have been more comfortable. Irish raced back to get their own losing bonus point and keep themselves at arms-length of Worcester, just losing out 28-27.
The embarrassment of Wasps early season was exacerbated by a ruthless Saracens outfit. Jamie George claimed a fantastic hat-trick in a 38-19 win, where Wasps were only able to threaten in the closing stages. Exeter and Newcastle scored four tries apiece in a vital game at the top of the table, with the champions coming out on top 34-24. Harlequins smashed Sale 42-26 and Bath beat Worcester 29-13.
Springboks push champions
A quiet, if intensely fought, first half gave way to a frenetic second as South Africa hosted New Zealand. The visitors led 8-3 at the interval, but three South African tries to two from the All Blacks made for a spectacular contest afterwards. The champions just about held on to keep a perfect record in the competition with a 25-24 victory. Meanwhile, Argentina finished without even a bonus point for their efforts this year – the first time since they joined the competition. Australia staged a late-show to stretch away to a 37-20 win, sealing second place in the process.
Stade recovery claims biggest scalp yet
A torrid start to the league seems to have dissipated for Stade Francais. They sealed back to back victories by beating early season pace-setters Montpellier 31-20. Bordeaux got a bonus-point 30-27 victory, despite Francois Trinh-Duc’s sublime kicking for Toulon. Pau got a vital away win at Oyonnax 19-16, whilst Brive beat Castres 27-22. Lyon’s tremendous start was extended with a comfortable 25-6 result at Agen.
Villain of the week
It could very easily have been Freddie Burns this week for his red, although it didn’t affect the result. So, even though his team scored with him off the pitch, it could have been a famous victory with him on – Damian de Allende is the villain for an elbow that resulted in a red.
Hero of the week
How it must be to be a Gloucester fan? Sublime. Ridiculous. Repeat. Henry Trinder was magnificent for them, with a brace of tries contributing towards a great win against the (then) league leaders Northampton. Honourable mention to Gareth Davies.
Try of the week
There weren’t many tries in the Ulster v Connacht fixture, but the ones that were deserve mentions. Top of the pile though was Tom McCartney’s effort, which owed a lot to the aggressive running lines and crisp hands that preceded it.
– Which teams are best poised for the Champions Cup?
– Who are the real Gloucester?
– When will Southern Kings come good?
– How do the fans of Rugby Championship teams feel about their upcoming European tours?
by Joe Large