As amateur rugby clubs up and down the country see training numbers dwindle for reasons completely unrelated to the cold, our Premiership counterparts brave the weather and attempt to cement their title challenges.
The freezing conditions only claimed one match and that was Worcester v Sale which will be rearranged for the near future.
Two teams playing some decent rugby at the moment came up against each other at Kingsholm as Gloucester faced Saracens. Sarries had to leave out Steve Borthwick due to the new rules governing the amount of games England players are allowed to play and if you ask Eddie Jones, this was the difference between the sides as Gloucester won 22-16. Olly Morgan got on the score sheet again to further press his claims for the England 15 shirt.
The bottom two clubs had a torrid time of it as Bristol went down to Northampton by 30-8 and Newcastle were thrashed by London Irish, 48-8. Irish were able to let their foot off the pedal after 30 minutes having already secured a bonus point. This allowed Mike Catt to make a rare appearance and he sealed it with a try of his own.
Northampton’s Ben Foden returned to his un-favoured position of full-back and scored another fantastic try. It’s interesting to note that one of the reasons cited for Foden’s departure from Sale was that they kept picking him at 15 so Northampton will have to be wary that they keep giving him plenty of starts at 9 as well. It looks like Bristol and Newcastle will be fighting each other for the relegation spot and it is likely to go down to the wire.
Sunday brought two mouth-watering clashes, the first between Leicester and Bath at Welford Road. This clash always has something special about it but this season is accentuated by the fact that both clubs are flying high in the league. Bath raced into an early lead and looked to have done enough to close out the game, leading 22-9 going into the final quarter. Leicester then game storming back with two Tom Croft tries to steal the game 24-22.
Wasps then faced Harlequins in the later kick-off and a similar match ensued. Wasps looked to be close to their best in the early exchanges, given a big helping hand from some favourable refereeing, as they took a 21-3 lead into half time. Quins then came back with all their might in the second half and a fantastic Danny Care solo try brought them to within one score. Wasps brought on Dave Walder for the rusty Danny Cipriani and managed to close out the game, 24-18.
The playoff places are still all up for grabs and realistically any team from 1st – 10th could end up in the top four when the season nears the end. There is still a chance that on any given match-day any team can beat any other in the Premiership and this will keep every team firing on all cylinders throughout the season.
by Jon Hobbs