by George Cowell
This week’s premiership rugby has thrown some surprise results, some narrow victories, and some absolute demolitions. As we slowly approach the halfway of the season with no fans, the teams all across England are still playing some fantastic, expansive, and open rugby.
Bristol Bears vs Bath
Bristol Bears ran in seven tries in a thrilling demolition of West Country derby rivals Bath Rugby as they ran out 48-3 winners at Ashton Gate. Bristol Bears scored seven tries through Luke Morahan, Charles Piutau, Andy Uren, Semi Radradra, a brace from hooker Bryan Byrne and to top off their display, the hosts were awarded a penalty try in the latter stages.
The bears were rampant as they continue to push the rhetoric that they may actually be genuine title contenders for this season’s Gallagher premiership. This victory left Bristol bears top of the table, and left Bath wondering if this could be a particularly bad omen for the rest of the season.
Leicester Tigers vs Sale Sharks
Alex Sanderson enjoyed a perfect start to life in charge of Sale Sharks after the departure of Steve Diamond, as they came from behind to beat Leicester Tigers 25-15 at Mattioli Woods Welford Road.
Sale came from behind to record a first win under Alex Sanderson as the Sharks down Leicester at Welford Road following a clinical second-half display.
It was the Tigers who showed an early display of dominance and took an early lead after Zack Henry’s penalty followed a try from Tigers legend Tom Youngs on his 200th appearance for the club.
However, it was not to be for the out of form Leicester Tigers, as they surrendered 25 points throughout the rest of the game, once Sale had worked out their game plan.
The Sharks narrowly missed out on a four-try bonus point, however, they leapfrogged Newcastle into second place behind the Bristol Bears.
Gloucester Rugby vs Northampton Saints
Northampton Saints earned their first win at Kingsholm since 2017 as they beat Gloucester Rugby 31-26 in a hard-fought contest.
In this arm-wrestle of a game, a late surge was not enough to beat a pretty standard Northhampton side, although the midland outfit did play some decent rugby and scored through Taqele Naiyaravoro, Rory Hutchinson, and two tries from Shaun Adendorff.
England International Willi Heinz scored on his return to Gloucester and will be a welcome return for the struggling Gloucester side, as they head to London Irish next weekend in search of a much-needed win.
Worcester Warriors vs Exeter Chiefs
Exeter Chiefs got back to winning ways as they held off a spirited Worcester Warriors 21-17 at Sixways.
It was actually potentially Warrior’s best performance of the season, standing toe to te with the reigning European and Premiership champions, and came very close to stealing a win at home to an Exeter Chief side who many think are lacking confidence.
The Warriors even managed to scrape a losing bonus point, which is the least they deserved after Oli Morris and Duncan Weir both scored tries on either side of the half.
The Warriors are expecting to lose Duncan Weir at the end of the season as he returns to Edinburgh and will be wondering how they will fair without the sturdy Scot in their fly half position.
London Irish vs Newcastle Falcons
London Irish claimed their first Gallagher Premiership Rugby win since November, prevailing 31-22 over Newcastle Falcons despite a spirited comeback attempt from the visitors.
In potentially the game of the round, London Irish were on fire, featuring deft hands, incredible touches of the ball, and a fantastic all-round team display against high-flying Newcastle.
Tries from Agustin Creevy, James Stokes, Curtis Rona and Motu Matu’u – and 11 points from the boot of the outstanding Paddy Jackson – saw Irish run out worthy 31-22 winners.
Irish were made to wait until the final day of January to play their first home match of 2021 at the Brentford Community Stadium.
With COVID-19 disrupting the previous two weeks of European action, in-form Newcastle were the visitors to the capital as the Gallagher Premiership resumed, and London Irish claimed a fantastic victory in their new home ground.
Wasps vs Harlequins
Harlequins powered to their third win of the season 49-17 over last season’s Gallagher Premiership Rugby runners-up Wasps at the Ricoh Arena.
This performance by Harlequins and more specifically their young fly-half Marcus Smith could provide Harlequins with a perfect springboard to try and attack silverware for the rest of the season.
Marcus Smith claimed Man of the Match as he claimed 17 points at the Ricoh, even slotting a meaningless kick right at the end from an impossible angle, hopefully, Eddie Jones is watching.
A much-needed win for Harlequins as they look to claim back-to-back wins away to Bath Rugby next weekend.