Week Six of Aviva Premiership saw victories for Leicester Tigers, Wasps, Exeter Chiefs, Saracens, Northampton Saints and Newcastle Falcons. Here are my Top 5 Talking Points After Week 6.
Five Talking Points After Week Six of Aviva Premiership
1: Adams Park Swansong The Tonic For Wasps
Wasps move to Coventry from High Wycombe has been covered aplenty in the last week so I won’t add any more to it. Suffice to say that Wasps are moving on and if their game with Bath had finished after 60 minutes, it would have went down as one of the best performances Adams Park has seen.
Nathan Hughes and Ashley Johnson set the tone for Wasps and were ably backed up by prop Matt Mullan who gave England squad mate David Wilson a torrid time in the scrum. Joe Simpson was electric at scrum half while Elliot Daly excelled in the centre.
The win over Bath will give Wasps massive confidence for the opening European weekend. One note of caution was the 22 unanswered points they conceded that gave Bath their losing bonus point. Credit must also go to Bath for the effort they put in to their comeback.
2: Tigers Return to Winning Ways
Leicester managed to breathe life into their Aviva Premiership campaign with a much needed win against Harlequins. Richard Cockerill’s side have copped a fair amount of flack in the past few weeks and answered many critics with this result.
A lot of the criticism was unjust given their horrendous injury problems, but that is no excuse for a club like Leicester. Manu Tuilagi’s return was a huge lift to the 21,500 Tigers fans that flocked to Welford Road for the game.
Owen Williams has taken over the kicking duties from Freddie Burns for the time being and he kicked 17 of the 22 points that Leicester scored. Blaine Scully scored the home side’s only try.
One other highlight from this game was Matt Hopper’s unbelievable try saving tackle on Niki Goneva. A truly remarkable effort from the Quins centre.
3: Saints Show Title Credentials
The Aviva Premiership breaks for a month for the Champions Cup and Challenge Cup this weekend. The top four of Northampton Saints, Saracens, Exeter Chiefs and Bath have been the most impressive. The old adage that the table never lies is true in this case.
Saints have certainly picked up from where they left off in the Premiership final in May. One defeat against Wasps is the only black mark against their name. They can hit opposing teams from anywhere and Samu Manoa’s hat trick against Sale Sharks last time out is a prime example.
Saracens are still a force to be reckoned with, while Exeter Chiefs and Bath are improving with every game. 16 games remain in the regular season and if they show half the quality that the first six, we are in for the best Premiership season in many a year.
4: England Out Half Watch
Freddie Burns, Danny Cipriani, George Ford and Stephen Myler all started for their clubs in Week 6 but there was no Owen Farrell in the Saracens as he remains injured.
Stephen Myler was outstanding for Northampton in their convincing win over Danny Cipriani’s Sale. Myler kicked 11 points but he also starred with ball in hand. Cipriani suffered from being behind a Sale pack that was truly nullified. He only managed one penalty.
Freddie Burns has been relieved of his kicking duties at Leicester and has lost a bit of his early season form behind a misfiring Tigers pack.
George Ford kept up his superb form despite Bath’s defeat to Wasps. His late penalty earned Bath a losing bonus point which could prove vital later in the season.
5: Champions Cup Preview
This weekend sees the Champions Cup opening weekend and seven Aviva Premiership teams take part. Harlequins open the new European tournament with a home game against French Top 14 outfit Castres. Quins will expect to beat Castres who lie 12th in the Top 14 and have only won three of their nine games.
Sake Sharks also open their campaign with a home game, as Munster travel to the AJ Bell Stadium. Munster’s European pedigree is well known and they have hit form at the right time. Sale are not in the best of form at the moment and could struggle to get a result from this game.
Saracens v Clermont Auvergne is the standout game of the opening round and it is near impossible to call. Sarries are second in the Premiership while Clermont lie at the summit of the Top 14. Clermont will be looking for revenge after being obliterated by 40 points in last year’s Heineken Cup Semi Final.
Bath travel north to Scotland as they face off against high flying Glasgow Warriors. Both sides are in good form but the Warriors are making Scotstoun a fortress and will be looking to bounce back from their first defeat of the season. Bath are also coming off a loss but in George Ford they have the form out half in Europe. A draw could be on the cards.
Northampton Saints have a trip to France to take on Racing Metro on Saturday. Saints are top of the Premiership and will expect to win despite it being away from home. Metro can be awesome but can also be awful and Saints should come away with a win.
Leicester Tigers welcome Ulster to Welford Road in the late game on Saturday evening. Tigers got back to winning way but Ulster have always been a bit of a bogey side for them. Ulster are without Ruan Pienaar and will miss his kicking prowess. Tigers to win this one.
Wasps play Leinster in the final match of the Champions Cup opening weekend. Leinster have a tremendous record at home in Europe but are not in the best of form. If Wasps can win the battle at scrum time, they could pull off the shock of the weekend.
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