Aviva Premiership Week 1 round up

Rob Seltzer Roar Guru

By Rob Seltzer, Rob Seltzer is a Roar Guru

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    After a summer Lions tour and many fringe players getting their chance to impress on the International stage the Aviva Premiership is back and it is back with a bang. There were hat-trick heroes, points galore and upsets on the opening weekend of the season

    Gloucester 28-21 Exeter
    Champions Exeter started their title defence with a defeat against Gloucester at Kingsholm in a thriller. Summer recruit Jason Woodward, scored in injury time and Billy Twelvetrees kicked the conversion to give the hosts the bonus point and snatch two points from Exeter’s grasp.

    Johan Ackerman’s tenure got off to the worst possible start. Within five minutes Exeter had opened their account with No.8 Sam Simmonds crashing over after good work from Phil Dolman and Henry Slade. second row Jeremy Thrush cancelled it out with Gloucester’s first real attack but Simmonds and Exeter quickly got their noses in front again as he scored his second of the game.

    Thrush then equalled this feat right on half time when a bold decision to kick for the corner was rewarded. Forgotten England No.8 Ben Morgan then gave Gloucester their first lead of the game 15 minutes into the second half, a lead they held until the 71st minute when Olly Woodburn scored a converted try to level things up.

    With two minutes to go, Slade had the chance to take home the points but missed with his penalty attempt before Woodward won the game for the Cherry and Whites.

    Newcastle 38-5 Worcester
    Newcastle began the new season how they ended the last, scoring tries and winning rugby matches. It was a fairly comfortable win for the Falcons against a Worcester team who played Ben Teo’o after his Lions exertions.

    Teo’o only lasted just over 20 minutes before a wrist injury ended his evening. Alex Tait scored five minutes into the contest with Sonatane Takulua converting. The crowd had to wait until the 47th minute for the next try though and that came to the Warriors for who Tom Heathcote had kicked a penalty.

    Josh Adams try brought Worcester to within two points of the Falcons. This jolted the Falcons into action and prop Rob Vickers crashed over five minutes later.

    Kyle Cooper then made it a double for the front row union as the hooker added his name to the scoresheet ten minutes later before substitute Juan Pablo Socino scored with his first touch of the game in the 75th minute to get the bonus point and give the Falcons the perfect start to the season.

    Saracens 55-24 Northampton
    The first game at Twickenham pitted European Champions Saracens against Northampton.
    The Saints will be looking to improve on last season’s disappointing campaign but seven first half tries made their fans wishing they hadn’t come.

    Saracens were simply brilliant. Sean Maitland scored a hat trick in 14 minutes. His 21st minute try was the third one of the game after Brad Barritt and Richard Wigglesworth had already scored by then. Alex Lozowski and Vincent Koch also crossed the line before half time. The scoreline at half time was 41-3 and Saracens, unsurprisingly took their foot off the gas a little in the second half.

    They still managed to add a further two scores through the evergreen Schalk Brits and replacement scrum half Ben Spencer. Northampton did restore some pride in the second half with Lewis Ludlum and a Tom Wood double converted by Henry Mallinder but they will have to improve dramatically to better their seventh place last season.

    London Irish 39-29 Harlequins
    In the second game of the double header at Twickenham, London Irish celebrating being back in the Premiership, stunning a fast finishing Harlequins. Marcus Smith kicked one penalty for Quins with Tommy Bell kicking two for Irish before veteran winger Topsy Ojo scored the first try at HQ.

    Bell converted to give Irish a 13- three lead before Bell himself crossed the whitewash after a superb pass from Blair Cowan. Joe Marchant took Jamie Roberts offload to burst through to score for Quins to bring them back into the game before half time.

    Samoan No.8 Ofisa Terviranus then added to another Bell penalty to give the scoreline a comfortable look of 32-10. Marland Yarde, Danny Care and Charlie Walker then all scored with Demetri Catrakilis converting two of them and now there were only three points separated the teams. Brendan McKibbin eased the nerves with a last minute try, converted by Bell to give Irish a fine start back in the Big Time.

    British and Irish Lions New Zealand Barbarians Rugby Union 2017 Generic rugby image

    (AAP Image/Ross Setford)

    Wasps 50-35 Sale
    Wasps won another entertaining game at the Ricoh Arena. It extends their unbeaten home run but their defensive frailty that was exposed towards the back end of last season was noticeable again. Dan Robson opened the scoring three minutes in and half an hour later had his hat trick. Christian Wade also scored during a pulsating first half where, at times, Wasps were simply irresistible in attack.

    Byron McGuigan and Ben Curry responded for Sale for whom AJ MacGinty was in fine form from the tee. Wasps led 31-14 at the break but Denny Solomona and Faf de Klerk, on debut, scored in quick succession to bring Sale right back into the contest.

    Will Rowlands shrugged off a challenge after a Gabby Lovobalavu break to dive over before Alex Rieder rounded off Wasps scoring. Scottish back rower Josh Strauss rounded off the scoring for Sale as they went home with a well deserved bonus point.

    Leicester 23-27 Bath
    The final game of the weekend was the hotly anticipated clash between old rivals Leicester and Bath at Welford Road. Manu Tuilagi marked his return from injury with a try but George Ford, who swapped Bath for Leicester over the summer, missed two conversions which proved crucial.

    A Ford penalty opened the scoring in the 21st minute before Tuilagi’s try in the 23rd minute that Ford converted. Bath were one of the few teams to play their Lions contingent with Taulupe Faletau, Jonathan Joseph and Anthony Watson all starting. After the Leicester try, Bath took complete control Centre Max Clark got a quickfire double before Semesa Rokoduguni blasted out an 80m intercept try in a devastating eight minute spell.

    Rhys Priestland was perfect from the tee for give the visitors a 21-8 half time lead. A Ford penalty was sandwiched between two further penalties from Priestland before Jonny May, the winger acquired from Gloucester in the summer, scored two late tries but Bath held on to record their first win at Leicester for 14 years.

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    The Crowd Says (18)

    • September 5th 2017 @ 5:58am
      Rt said | September 5th 2017 @ 5:58am | ! Report

      Good wrap Rob.

      I’ve got to admit a few of the law changes have got me a bit stumped . Particularly regarding what forms a ruck and how you can’t kick the ball out of the ruck. Seems to me we are trying to de-contest another area of the game to ensure possession continuity.

      Admittedly there were a lot of tries scored but the defensive lines are resembling rugby league without the space.

      Remember when backs were backs and forwards were forwards and seldom the twain would meet?

      • September 5th 2017 @ 9:58am
        Rob Seltzer said | September 5th 2017 @ 9:58am | ! Report

        Hi Rt,

        I agree they are over complicating things at times but with regards to kicking the ball out of the ruck, this is one i tend to agree with. It just makes the game a bit sloppy, I am all for a good contest at the break down but someone managing to get their foot into the ruck as they are cleared away, to me, isn’t particularly skillful and annoying to all.

        That’s professionalism for you. Players watch what they eat and drink now, spend hours int he gym and coaches keep having to come up with new ways to break those defences down, one of the reason Wasps are so good to watch as they have players running angles all over the shop but also conceed tries as well. Will be a great season though.

      • September 5th 2017 @ 2:44pm
        cuw said | September 5th 2017 @ 2:44pm | ! Report

        It seems there is a new law that defines the HIGH TACKLE. it seems anything above shoulder is high.

        now u may say it has always been the case but there wasa time when someone chasing a runner could reach out , catch him over the shoulder – on the shoulder and drag him down. NO MORE !!!

        i watched Bath v Leicester. every tackle that was around the shoulder was penalized and then at the end Bath received 3 cards. they played at least 15 minutes with 13 on the park.

        the commentary called it the ” seat belt tackle” . it seems that is another tackle now outlawed. i saw it in the 7S circuit in the last 2 years and now its come into XVs as well.

        interestingly only one ref in mitre 10 applied such stringent standards to tackles – i think there was like 5 -6 games in weekend, i lost count.

        maybe all players will need to call la timeout for 3 months and adjust how to tackle in these circumstances.

    • Roar Guru

      September 5th 2017 @ 9:42am
      Mark Richmond said | September 5th 2017 @ 9:42am | ! Report

      Thanks Rob. The Gloucester v Wasps game was a cracker.
      I was also watching to see how the SH teams went in the Pro 14…..both got hammered Kings going down 57-10 to my side, Llanelli Scarlets and Cheetahs got done 42-19 by Ulster. It will be interesting to see if there really is that much difference in class as the season goes on.

      • September 5th 2017 @ 12:05pm
        mzilikazi said | September 5th 2017 @ 12:05pm | ! Report

        I have not checked, Mark, but wonder how close to the SR teams that have just played our season those two teams are now ? Have many/any players got contracts with other SR teams, thus leaving the Kings and Cheetahs ?

        I really hope these two teams can do well this year up north…be a real pity if they get hammered every week.

        • Roar Guru

          September 5th 2017 @ 12:41pm
          Mark Richmond said | September 5th 2017 @ 12:41pm | ! Report

          Mzilikazi. Yeah, I’m not reading too much into it at this stage, as you say, back to back seasons, no Bok players available, and how different are the squads from the Super Rugby ones. Hopefully it’s just a glitch, and they will be competitive from here on.
          Great name by the way, I remember learning about the old king at school in Zim.

          • September 5th 2017 @ 3:21pm
            mzilikazi said | September 5th 2017 @ 3:21pm | ! Report

            Which school did you attend, Mark ? I actually spent 4 years after 1980 coaching coaching St George’s 1st XV…..t’was a great experience. Was a great country once.

            • Roar Guru

              September 5th 2017 @ 8:04pm
              Mark Richmond said | September 5th 2017 @ 8:04pm | ! Report

              Eagle School in the Bvumba. Started in ’71, left in ’75……school closed in ’76 due to the proximity to the Mozambique border and the Chimurenga. It re-opened as the Elim Mission, then in ’77 12 people were massacred by terrorists/freedom fighters.
              We lived in Zambia and I was supposed to go to High School at Falcon in Bulawayo, but parents sent me and my brothers back to a boarding school in the UK for safety reasons.

              • September 5th 2017 @ 9:31pm
                mzilikazi said | September 5th 2017 @ 9:31pm | ! Report

                Pity you missed the Falcon experience, Mark. A great school…produced David Curtis, who went on to play a bit for Ireland at flyhalf.

              • Roar Guru

                September 6th 2017 @ 9:02am
                Mark Richmond said | September 6th 2017 @ 9:02am | ! Report

                Yeah, I know….however I did get to play with Springbok Harry Roberts at Eagle. He was a couple of years older than me and in the pack, I was fortunate enough to be selected in the 1st XV at scrum half, despite being 2 years younger than everyone else.

        • September 5th 2017 @ 12:59pm
          Baylion said | September 5th 2017 @ 12:59pm | ! Report

          The Cheetahs are close to their SR, barring 3 Boks and and a few injuries. Biggest issue for them probably is that they are down to their 7th choice flyhalf.

          The Kings, however, is a completely different team having lost the majority of their SR players. They borrowed 12 fringe players from the Lions, Sharks and WP and filled a number of vacancies with Border Bulldogs players, a second tier Currie Cup side. They got the last of their players signed about a week before the game

          • September 5th 2017 @ 9:32pm
            mzilikazi said | September 5th 2017 @ 9:32pm | ! Report

            Thanks for that info. Baylion.

      • September 5th 2017 @ 1:01pm
        Baylion said | September 5th 2017 @ 1:01pm | ! Report

        Glaws v Chiefs you mean

        • Roar Guru

          September 5th 2017 @ 1:05pm
          Mark Richmond said | September 5th 2017 @ 1:05pm | ! Report

          Sorry…..yes, Exeter…..I was reading the Wasps report just before….Mae culpa😀

          • September 5th 2017 @ 1:17pm
            Baylion said | September 5th 2017 @ 1:17pm | ! Report

            Was a good game though 🙂

            • September 5th 2017 @ 3:24pm
              mzilikazi said | September 5th 2017 @ 3:24pm | ! Report

              Amazing finish….Gloucester certainly showed a lot of control…and courage too, going for the try. Good to see Johan Akermann start with a win.

    • September 5th 2017 @ 5:29pm
      adastra32 said | September 5th 2017 @ 5:29pm | ! Report

      Some new laws were clearly a bit difficult to memorise for some refs. The players spent virtually the whole game at Leicester kicking the ball out of rucks with few sanctions awarded.

    • Roar Pro

      September 5th 2017 @ 10:11pm
      Andrew said | September 5th 2017 @ 10:11pm | ! Report

      London Irish – great return and great tries scored!

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