Sale v Leicester was obviously the first game of the season on Friday, but the London Double Header at Twickenham yesterday launched the Guinness Premiership season in front of 67,000 fans.
Saracens took on London Irish in the first match, and caused something of an upset by taking the points in an 18-14 victory. The Exiles attacked relentlessly for the last half-hour, but Sarries managed to keep them at bay to seal the win.
The Harlequins versus Wasps match then got underway, and it was clear from the outset that the Quins players were fired up, determined to put down a marker on the pitch after a difficult summer off the pitch. Unfortunately, second row George Robson did them more harm than good in apparently headbutting Joe Simpson with 30 seconds on the clock. He was shown the red card and left his side struggling with a man down for 79 minutes.
Despite the early setback, Quins played wonderfully in the first half and scored a couple of outstanding tries, but Danny Cipriani created some magic of his own to get his side back in the game. Ultimately, in the second half, the numerical disadvantage began to show as Quins could not find any space and as they tired, Wasps closed the door to win 26-15.
The occasion was marvellous, and although the sending off tarnished the Quins’ repuation further, the Twickenham crowd did not have the benefit of a replay and so weren’t quite sure what had happened. The rugby on the pitch more than made up for it, with two thrilling matches that suggest we are in for another brilliant Guinness Premiership season.