Aviva Premiership wrap: Saints and Sarries continue to dominate
Aviva Premiership wrap: Northampton Saints and Saracens continue to dominate
Sarries and Saints continue to dominate but playoff rivals struggle
Four weeks into the season, one can normally begin to see which teams are going to be there or there abouts at the end of the season, and what sides will be looking at avoiding the drop when May rolls around. Already we are seeing defending champions Northampton Saints, alongside Saracens as the teams to beat this season. All very unsurprising given they are considered usual suspects to the end of season playoff picture. What has been a surprise though is the struggles endured by other teams usually dining at the top table of Premiership rugby. Both Leicester and Harlequins have had tough starts to the season, and have been on the receiving end of some serious beatings so far this season. Quins 39-0 whitewash defeat at home to Sarries sent reverberations through the league, while Bath’s 45-0 dismantling of Leicester last weekend drew similar shock from the rugby fraternity. While the Tigers went down narrowly to an enthusiastic London Irish side, Quins were on the receiving end of a comprehensive drubbing at the hands of relative Premiership new boys Exeter. Of course as time goes on the experienced sides normally rise to the top but there will be a few worried faces at the Stoop and Welford road even at this early stage in the season.
Wasps find their sting but must make most of forgiving schedule
London Wasps have enjoyed a largely consistent start to their season, despite managing two wins and two defeats from their four matches. Narrow defeats by Saracens and Harlequins have come either side of a great win against Saints followed by their less than vintage but no less convincing win over Newcastle. While the black and gold will be the first to admit they weren’t at their best, they were able to rest some key starters and still had more than enough for a Falcons side now 20 matches on the bounce without a win. Another bonus point means Wasps have picked up at least a point from all their games this season, and they must continue to pick the points up when they travel north to take on Sale before returning to Adam’s Park to take on Bath and London Welsh in back-to-back home matches. If they continue to pick up points they will keep the momentum going into their match against London Irish. They don’t then face top-tier opposition until the end of the November when they travelling to struggling Leicester. A decent string of results could see them cement their position in the playoff spots over the festive period before the Six Nations.
Chiefs upset the applecart to return to winning ways
Perhaps the result of the weekend was down at Sandy Park where Exeter Chiefs showed their class to dominate Harlequins, running out 36-13 winners. While it was only a second home win in the league in the calendar year, Chiefs were worth every bit of their victory as they sent Quins back to London with plenty of question to answer. It is testament to the quality of the Premiership that for the most part there are no ‘easy’ games with newly-promoted London Welsh the only side struggling with the gulf in class at the top level domestically. The Chiefs have a wonderful mix of youth and experience with a number of players who have tasted international rugby and are itching to get another taste in a World Cup year. They have three wins and a defeat in their four matches and find themselves in the top-four already. The West-Country side will be looking to build on a positive start when they travel to the struggling Falcons.
Results: Exeter 36-13 Harlequins, Wasps 35-18 Newcastle, Leicester 19-22 London Irish, Saracens 40-19 Sale Sharks, Northampton 31-24 Bath, London Welsh 10-46 Gloucester