Best of the Weekend: Saints power on

Soane Tonga'uihaSaints power leaves Wasps in ruins

Northampton’s forwards showed immense strength in Sunday’s only game as they scored three tries before half-time, ending up 37-10 winners at Adams Park. They made Wasps look abysmal. Blunted in attack through the losses of Joe Simpson and Riki Flutey, their forwards could not handle the likes of Tonga’uiha, Lawes and co. as Saints repeatedly mauled the ball over the line. It may have left the backs feeling the cold, but it was a very impressive pack performance.

Jim Mallinder spoke to Russ Hargreaves after the game: 

[podcast]Podcasts/2410Mallinder.mp3[/podcast]

The Premiership suffers from European hangover

A combination of horrendous conditions and fatigue meant that the tries weren’t exactly in abundance over the weekend. Leicester and Bath played in torrential rain, as expertly forecast in the Key Clash preview, and conditions weren’t much better down at Sandy Park where Exeter and London Irish similarly fought it out in the wet. Elsewhere, some games were just awful. Don’t expect Leeds’ match against Sale to be a contender for any game of the season awards. Taking into account the quality of rugby that we’ve seen so far, hopefully this round will be nothing but a blip.

Exeter lose unbeaten home record but continue to impress

Defeated they may have been but what an addition to the Premiership the Chiefs have been. A booming atmosphere down at Sandy Park spurred Exeter on, and at 9-6 up with 20 minutes to go, the upset looked very much on the cards. Ryan Lamb’s continuing maturity at fly-half saw him remain unflustered with the pressure on, and his two kicks gained Irish only their second away win of the season so far. One thing is for certain, if Exeter defend with as much passion and with as excellent a crowd as on Saturday evening, not many teams will come away with victories.

ESPN and Sky left with little to show the try-hungry viewer

The addition of two more live Premiership games every weekend seems to have received a strong positive response from all parties concerned. But unfortunately for both TV broadcasters this weekend, there was not a single try in all three live games. The Exeter Irish game had plenty of drama, and Leicester and Bath gave their all in monsoon season rain, but despite their effort no one managed to cross over the white-wash. The odds on this happening are pretty remarkable, but it raises the argument whether you need tries for a game to be enjoyable? And if they are essential, then is the reason because defences are too strong, or the attacks not firing on all cylinders?

Not many to choose from for this week’s Try of the Weekend, but the winner was an obvious pick. Danny Care’s burst down the sideline showcased the qualities for which he’s held in such high regard; outstanding pace, and sharp vision to grab any opportunity. His 75m sprint will have kept him at the front of Martin Johnson’s thoughts when it comes to selection for the first test against the All Blacks.

This week’s Hero is Alex Goode of Saracens. With Derick Hougaard out for at least six months, and gossip persisting that Gavin Henson could become a possible replacement, it would be easy to forget about Goode. But his goal-kicking under pressure on Friday night up at Kingston Park was first class, and crucial to the Men In Black picking up an important away win.

As for the Villain, Luke Arscott was a nominee after he suffered in the wet against Irish, but the lack of a TMO at Gloucester meant that Chris Robshaw’s “try” could not be given, possibly costing Harlequins the game in the process. Director of Rugby Conor O’Shea was adamant that Robshaw’s effort was good, and can feel rightly unfortunate to have not left Kingsholm with if not a draw, then possibly a win.