Another weekend in the Guinness Premiership, another cracking series of close fought matches hurtling towards the sun-soaked end of season finale at HQ.
The weekend began with absurdly high winds at Kingston Park, snapping a post and making playing a game of rugby as hard as justifying another Balshaw cap. Wasps and Newcastle will have to work another match into a hectic spring to get this one played.
A different kind of drama was on show at Sale, with the Sharks losing out to Worcester by 15 – 22. A try from Kai Horstmann was the difference between the two sides in the end. Worcester have now developed enough of a cushion over Leeds to relax a little and allow their talented backs to express themselves.
On Saturday Harlequins maintained their good form and Gloucester maintained their mid-season shakes in an interesting clash at the Stoop. Simpson-Daniel was his classy best throughout as he created a try for Anthony Allen and scored one himself. Willie Walker struggled to come to terms with the difficult kicking conditions and that proved the difference.
Leicester upped the pressure on Gloucester by gaining maximum points in their clash against Leeds, winning 34 -21. Leeds will continue to put everything into all their remaining matches but will now struggle to catch Worcester and look likely to return to first division action next season (and get a big parachute payment and come straight back up the following season).
Also on Saturday London Irish beat Saracens 27 – 24. After a good start to the season Saracens have lost form in 2008, losing 5 of their last seven matches. It seems their unwelcome reputation of annual underachievers is coming to the fore this season too. Irish are timing their run to the playoffs this season better than before and should be making those above them a mite edgy.
Sunday’s west country derby was won by Bath, as they beat Bristol 19-9 at Ashton Gate. As avid readers will have noted I once again got the result wrong. Excellent. Another notable performance came from Olly Barkley, managing the game from fly-half in Butch James’ absence. He’ll be miffed not to have been called up for England duties for the latter stages of the Six Nations.
by Jon Hobbs