Northampton power past Saracens, Quins bounce back
A tantalising list of fixtures beckoned in the Premiership this weekend, but perhaps none as enticing as the West Country derby between Bath and Gloucester. Five penalties from George Ford were enough to give Bath a 15-13 win at the Rec, and maintain the early season form which has seen them entrench themselves in the top four. Exeter opened the floodgates against a struggling Worcester side, and recorded a 40-6 victory, whilst Northampton arguably turned in the performance of the weekend, beating title rivals Saracens 41-20 at Franklin’s Gardens, a performance all the more impressive for the lack of star players Alex Corbisiero, Dylan Hartley, Tom Wood and George North. Harlequins dispatched Sale 24-3 to help erase some of the European pain they’re currently feeling, and interestingly, Ben Botica was the man Quins opted for in goal-kicking situations, after Nick Evans picked up an ankle injury which was not severe enough to force him off the pitch, but clearly would have affected his goal kicking.
Sunday saw an injury and England squad-depleted Leicester Tigers travel down to Adams Park, a venue they had not won at since 2007. That trend continued at the weekend, with an Andy Goode-inspired Wasps turning them over 22-12. The wily fly-half played the tricky conditions to perfection, proving there is no substitute for experience. His opposite man, 19-year old Owen Williams, should at least have learnt a lot. At the other end of the country, Newcastle snuck a close win over London Irish, 13-11, to haul themselves up to eighth in the table, equal on points with Wasps and Sale. Adam Powell’s second half try, and the all important conversion from Phil Godman, made the difference on the day.
Munster move top, Edinburgh record much-needed win
Munster moved to the top of the table with a hard-fought 13-6 away win at Glasgow, and the win will be all the more pleasing for the performance of the young JJ Hanrahan, who scored all 13 of Munster’s points. Both the Ospreys and Ulster backed up their early form in the Pro12, recording bonus point victories over Newport and Cardiff respectively. Edinburgh managed to pick up their second win of the season, and move from the foot of the table, after they beat Treviso 20-13 at home, whilst Zebre surpassed all expectations, battling to a 16-16 draw with the in-form Scarlets. Leinster rounded off the weekend with a 16-13 win over Connacht, but had to come from behind, and a penalty try in the 77th minute was finally enough to swing the match in their favour.
Justin Tipuric gets the Try of the Week for his first score against Newport, but owes a lot of thanks to Matthew Morgan. The young fly-half broke four tackles, and offloaded out of the fifth to the arriving Tipuric, to set up the score for the Ospreys, and showed a devastating combination of speed and strength. Tipuric’s second try was also certainly worthy of mention, as was Dean Mumm’s fantastic team try for Exeter.
There were a lot of good performances up and down the country this week, but perhaps none more so than Hero of the Week, Samu Manoa. The lock did not put a foot wrong in Northampton’s impressive win, and his audacious sidestep en route to his try was enough to win him this accolade.
We’ve not seen anything over the weekend to really warrant Villain of the Week, so do let us know in the comments if you’ve got any ideas!
by Alex Shaw (@alexshawsport)
Photo by: Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images