Aviva Premiership wrap: Saracens and Leicester share the spoils
Andrew Binner take a look at the third round of Premiership matches, which saw plenty of upsets and drama
As you were at the top
The big game at the top of the table was Saracens much-anticipated clash with rivals Leicester Tigers at Wembley Stadium. After an appalling start from Saracens which saw young fly-half Owen Farrell miss two very kickable opportunities, England fly-half rival Charlie Hodgson came on to steady the ship and guide the north London side to a 9-9 draw in front of 41,000 fans. The draw means that Tigers and Sarries occupy third and fourth spots respectively in the table with Leciester having one more bonus point than Saracens. Harlequins produced a typically assured performance that we have become accustomed to as they beat Sale 37-14 at The Stoop. In doing so, they also secured their standing at the top of the table, two points clear of Northampton with a massive 62-point points difference. The fixture saw another man of the match performance from kiwi Nick Evans and also the return to form of Ugo Monye following injury – he crossed over to get his side’s first score of the afternoon. Elsewhere, Northampton gained a much-needed boost of confidence as they beat Bath away 14-18 – Saints’ fly-half Stephen Myler kicked all five of his goals to seal the win.
All to play for in the mid-table
Despite it still being very early in the season, it is already clear who the candidates to finish in the upper echelons of the Premiership table and those who will be battling to avoid the bottom three places. Bath’s fellow west-countrymen Gloucester are also a team very much in transition and they will be happy with a 16-16 draw away at Worcester. The draw means the Warriors are still to register a win in this season’s competition.
Chiefs suffer a taste of their own medicine
Whoever said that the promotion/relegation system was bad for rugby? With the final game of the round being played on Sunday, there was increased focus on London Welsh’s fantastic maiden victory in the Premiership in a closely contested match at home to Exeter Chiefs. It is ironic that their victory came against a Chiefs side that gained promotion only two seasons ago and caused a few upsets in beating bigger clubs en route to Premiership survival. Chiefs’ coach Rob Baxter was gracious in defeat and instead of concentrating on what his own team did well, quite rightly paid respect to the Exiles’ achievement and told the press to “celebrate that instead”. Welsh came from behind to snatch the game 25-24 and with it they will feel that their season starts now as they look to build upon a good victory at Kessam Stadium.