Guinness Premiership Report 26/02/08

Guinness Premiership

While most peoples’ eyes and ears were transfixed by the weekend’s Six Nations results, the Premiership continues to build towards a dramatic end of season.

On Friday night, relegation battlers Worcester were unlucky to only come away with a losing bonus point as they took London Irish to the wire, the match ending 11-12 in Irish’s favour. Interestingly, Irish’s winning points came from a penalty after Drew Hickey, the Worcester back row, argued with referee Rob Debney. Mike Ruddock has claimed “he’ll be hit in the pocket for that”!

All Saturday’s matches were close but the upset came from Sale Sharks who managed an away win at fortress Welford Road, the home of Leicester Tigers. A 79th minute Chabal try was the difference as Sale ran out 14-11 winners. That’s two defeats on the trot for Leicester and the chasing pack are sniffing blood.

Wasps sneaked a win without the help of their International stars, a nerveless Dave Walder conversion of an injury time Mark McMillan try sealed their home win against Bristol 32-30. Bristol will be upset at the loss of a potential away 5 pointer but will be consoled by the fact they scored two losing bonus points.

Gloucester also came from behind to defeat Newcastle at home by 28-20. Newcastle boss John Fletcher has joined the chorus of voices calling for Simpson-Daniel to be given another shot at an England jersey, saying, “How the hell that kid isn’t playing international rugby I’ll never know”. Gloucester have stretched their lead over Leicester to 5 points, giving them plenty of breathing space and an eye on a home play-off quarter-final.

On Sunday Bath kept the pressure on Leicester with a bonus point away win against Leeds, 15- 34. Olly Barkley’s end of season move to Gloucester hasn’t dampened his ambition to earn some silverware with Bath as he starred against the premiership basement team. It could be more to do with trying to earn an England recall mind you…

Sunday’s televised game was an engaging contest between Saracens and Harlequins. Thanks largely to the 8, 9 axis of Tom Guest and Danny Care, Quins managed to defeat their London rivals 15 – 6 at Vicarage Road. Never mind trying to get back in the England set up, Andy Gomarsall will have a job on his hands to get back into the Quins team.

The pick of the matches this weekend is the west country derby between Bristol and Bath. My money is on Bristol to sneak it…but I lost every bet I tried on the six nations so expect Bath to win by a country mile.

by Jon Hobbs