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Five Talking Points After Round Fifteen of the Aviva Premiership

Week Fifteen of the Aviva Premiership saw victories for Leicester Tigers, Northampton Saints, Exeter Chiefs, Sale Sharks and Gloucester while Wasps and Newcastle Falcons drew. Here are my Top 5 Talking Points after Round 15.

 1: Sharks Rise Up the Table All Down To Diamond

Without causing too much of a fuss the Sale Sharks have rose to the dizzy heights of 5th in the table. Steve Diamond is a Sharks legend as a player and a coach after the teams’ early 2000’s success as part of a coaching team with another former player Jim Mallinder as well as his current coaching stint.

Diamond’s revolution is still a long way off where Sale Sharks want to be but their workmanlike effort and attitude is very much in the mold of their head coach. Danny Cipriani has paid tribute to Diamond’s ability and vision as one of the main reasons he signed a new two year contract.

Diamond comes across as a no nonsense coach but there is plenty of guile in is approach that is sometimes lost on people. Sale Sharks may not finish in their current position come end of season but with Diamond and Cipriani working in tandem, there could be plenty of good times ahead.

2: Saints Show Their Strength at Bath

Northampton Saints won the top of the table battle with Bath to extend their lead at the top to nine points. Despite Bath running into an early 10 point lead, the Saints did not panic and got the win thanks to tries from Mike Haywood and James Wilson.

If you look at the Saints starting 15 that took to the field against Bath you see how strong their squad actually is. They are currently by far and away the best team in the Premiership and it is very difficult to see anyone stopping them retaining their title.

Saints have lost some vital players for next season in Samu Manoa and Salesi Ma’fu but have already added quality players to their squad for next season namely JJ Hanrahan, Kieran Brookes, Jamie Gibson and Michael Patterson. It is hard to argue against Saints being at the top for this season and for the next number of years.

3: Elliot Daly Finally Showing His Quality

A few seasons ago Wasps back Elliot Daly was being talked about as the next English superstar. He made his debut for Wasps while still at school and it looked as it was a natural progression to the England senior setup.

It hasn’t worked out that way as of yet for Daly but in the last few games and especially in last weekend’s game against Newcastle Falcons he looked a top class player. Playing at outside centre, Daly was the standout player in the game scoring a try and creating one in the space of two first half minutes.

Daly is only 22 years old and has plenty of time to make the England first team and if he continues to keep up this form he could be an outside bet for the World Cup. That may come too early but Daly has everything a player needs to make it at International level.

4: Worcester and Bristol in Battle for Premiership Place

With London Welsh effectively relegated many months ago I have decided to have a look at the two teams vying for the Aviva Premiership next season Worcester Warriors and Bristol. One point separates them at the top of the Championshop with the Warriors ahead at this stage.

Despite being relegated from the Premiership last season, Worcester have held on to some of their best players like Chris Pennell and Jonathan Thomas. Bristol on the other hand have recruited for Premiership life in the past two seasons so promotion is vital this term.

There is an argument that both teams should be allowed into the Premiership given their superior quality compared to the other teams in the Championship and the lack of a level playing field in that division. Either way one of them will be promoted but with it being so close it is any ones guess at which team it will be.

5: Game of The Weekend: Wasps v Gloucester

It’s not a top of the table clash but Wasps v Gloucester has the potential to be a fantastic game. Both teams try to play an attacking brand of rugby and tries should be plentiful. Ahead of this game Wasps have added full back Martyn Thomas from Coventry and former All Black Piri Weepu from London Welsh on a short term deal until the end of the season.

Weepu’s stay with the Exiles has been unsuccessful to say the least but could do a decent job at Wasps as a backup to Joe Simpson. Gloucester will be looking to avenge their earlier defeat to Wasps this season and are in decent form having won three of their last four Premiership games.

Wasps have had a breakthrough season and can look forward to a daunting trip to Toulon in the Champions Cup quarter finals while Gloucester are planning for next season. This will be a tight one and despite my expectations of it being an open expansive game, it could come down to the kicking prowess of Andy Goode and James Hook. If so, Wasps should win.

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