With all eyes continuing to be distracted by the World Cup one team is standing out ahead of the crowd in the Guinness Premiership, Gloucester. This weekend they navigated their way through a tricky fixture against Sale, who had “nilled” Wasps the week before to maintain their unbeaten record. The Leicester old boy with a knack of scoring important tries, Leon Lloyd, scored a brace after the sides had gone in level at half time. Gloucester finished the match 31-12 and whether the beers next Saturday are drunk in joy or in sorrow, the boys returning from France will have to maintain their intensity levels over a long, hard season to be able to catch the cherry and whites.
Also on Saturday Bath held off the impressive Harlequins to move up to 3rd in the table. Chris Malone – Bath’s kicking metronome for the past few seasons – failed to impress his new Quins fans by missing crucial kicks at the beginning of the second half to keep the Londoners in the game. Shane Byrne’s 15 point haul was enough to see the home side through 25-10.
Two clubs recorded their first wins of the season, Leeds on Friday night and Wasps on Sunday. Leeds outscored Worcester by three tries to two and with Argentinian fly-half Di Bernardo kicking 11 points were able to see it through to the end, 26-21. If Leeds can put together a few more wins like this they could open up some breathing space at the bottom of the league and get back to playing the rugby that lit up National One last season.
Wasps were desperate for a win to kick-start their season and give their England contingent something to look forward to coming home for. Skivington, Cipriani and Voyce were the scorers who helped Wasps overcome London Irish with a little bit to spare, 28-14. With Josh Lewsey out of the World Cup squad with a hamstring injury, young Danny Cipriani might figure in Ashton’s plans for the coming week. However Wasps might hope they don’t lose another one of their young stars to go to Paris and sit in a suit in the stands, a la Rees!
Two matches on Sunday saw Bristol return to winning ways against Newcastle and Saracens consign Leicester to a second straight defeat. Bristol will be keen to prove last season wasn’t a flash in the pan and regained some form to beat Newcastle 23-16. Saracens’ win sees them move up to second to lead the pack chasing Gloucester, they defeated Leicester 26-19. Leicester don’t often lose two in a row so will be out to settle some scores against Worcester next weekend…..not that anyone other than the most die-hard club fans will be caring about anything other than watching England win next Saturday!
By Jon Hobbs