With the Six Nations taking a weekend off, domestic rugby was the focus once again. Here is the best of the action from the Aviva Premiership, RaboDirect Pro12 and Top 14:
“Massive result” for Leicester’s season as Quins win again at the top
Richard Cockerill was jubilant on Sunday evening after Leicester came back from 19-12 down away at Saracens to grab the victory with a Geordan Murphy drop goal. After 26 phases pummelling their way forward, with confusion between James Grindal and Toby Flood regarding when to take the drop goal, captain Murphy stepped in to take charge of the situation. It was far from the prettiest connection, but sped between the posts and Leicester landed a major blow on the champions to move back into the top four, 19-20 the final score.
Back at the top of the summit, Harlequins picked up their second home win in a week against a dogged Worcester side. Star fly-half Nick Evans’ boot was crucial once again in the 16-14 win, with the pack putting in a dominant shift to notch up a penalty try on the back of a rolling maul. Northampton also kept their spot in the top four after Stephen Myler kicked 21 points in their win against visiting Sale Sharks. Mark Cueto scored the only try of the game for the visitors, who lost both Andrew Sheridan and Sam Tuitupou to the sin-bin either side of half time.
Newcastle give themselves a lifeline as Wasps continue to slide
The Gary Gold era has started well for Newcastle Falcons, who are now unbeaten at home in three matches after defeating London Irish 19-10 on Saturday afternoon. The boot of the highly sought after Jimmy Gopperth was crucial to their success, as was an interception try from winger Ryan Shortland, bringing about a win that moves Newcastle within six points of London Wasps in 11th.
That win at Kingston Park will have turned up the pressure on Wasps, who have not won a match outside of the Amlin Challenge Cup since last October. Their latest loss, another narrow defeat at home this time to Exeter Chiefs, will have done little to brighten the mood at Adams Park. The fact that the last match of the Premiership season is at home to Newcastle could prove to be perfectly scripted. The final game of the weekend was at the Rec where Gloucester’s pack put in a strong shift to win the local derby, Man of the Match Nick Wood grabbing a try for the Cherry & Whites.
Narrow win for Leinster to stay 10 points clear
Leinster maintained their lead at the top of the RaboDirect Pro12 thanks to a narrow win over the visiting Scarlets in Dublin. With Johnny Sexton rested, Fergus McFadden scored of his team’s points, scoring one try and three penalties, the last of which was enough to win the game and clinch Leinster’s 12th successive victory in the competition.
Munster notched up a bonus point away to Treviso, with Simon Zebo grabbing a brace and Ronan O’Gara kicking 15 points, but stayed in third after the Ospreys defeated Aironi at home. There were also wins for Cardiff and the Dragons, whilst Connacht and Glasgow thrashed out a 13 all draw at the Sportsground.
Toulouse increase lead at the top as Clermont are held to a draw
A comfortable home win over Agen saw Toulouse stretch their lead to 8 points in first place, following Clermont’s 22 all draw with Bayonne. Morgan Parra was wayward with the boot, costing his side the win, and giving Bayonne some valuable points in their relegation battle. Elsewhere, Steffon Armitage put in a man of the match performance for Toulon in their 19-19 draw with Stade Français, though the club will be concerned at Jonny Wilkinson’s knee injury. Matt Giteau landed a conversion after injury-time to clinch the points. There were also wins for Racing Métro, Castres and Montpellier.
Try of the Weekend goes to Neil de Kock of Saracens. The South African scrum-half was in the perfect position to support Schalk Brits’ excellent break, collecting the offload to finish the score.
One standout candidate for this weekend’s Hero award, Geordan Murphy. With Toby Flood lacking the confidence to slot the all important drop goal after over 20 phases, the Leicester captain stepped in. It was the ugliest of strikes, but it didn’t matter. Here Murphy’s thoughts on the match below, courtesy of Talking Rugby:
As for some Villains, Jim Hamilton & Ryan Caldwell’s brawl wasn’t on the same level of Chisora & Haye, but it wasn’t pretty either in mud at Bath.
by Ben Coles