Category Archive: Premiership Rugby

Premiership Rugby News

Apr 29

Freddie Burns puts Leicester on course for win over Sale and fourth spot

• Leicester 41-18 Sale
• Burns scores 19 points in comfortable win for Tigers

Leicester Tigers put themselves in pole position for the fourth Premiership play-off place with a bonus-point victory at home to Sale.

The convincing win put the Tigers on 62 points, nine ahead of Bath, who meet Gloucester on Sunday. Victory at Worcester next week will clinch fourth place for the Tigers, who scored five tries in front of a 23,940 crowd.

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/apr/29/leicester-sale-premiership-match-report

Apr 29

Exeter eye summit as Jack Nowell seals bonus-point win over Northampton

• Exeter 36-12 Northampton
• Leicester on track for fourth play-off place after 41-18 win over Sale

Exeter’s story since they were promoted to the Premiership seven years ago has been one of steady ascent, and they are approaching the top. Victory next Saturday against a Gloucester side that will have the European Challenge Cup final on its mind would earn the Chiefs a home tie in the play-off semi-finals and a likely place at the head of the table, with the leaders Wasps at home to Saracens.

Exeter not only achieved their biggest Premiership victory over Northampton, but dominated the match from beginning to end. The Saints scored the first and last tries of a one-sided match but were largely required to defend. They attempted more than 250 tackles but their initial resolve faded into submission against opponents who look bound for the Premiership final.

Related: Saracens wake from sluggish start thanks to Petrus du Plessis double

Related: London Irish’s Nick Kennedy: time to seize Championship play-offs moment

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/apr/29/exeter-northampton-premiership-match-report

Apr 29

Saracens wake from sluggish start thanks to Petrus du Plessis double

• Saracens 27-9 Bristol
• Bristol led 9-3 at half-time before champions awoke

Two tries in 20 minutes from Petrus du Plessis sealed a bonus-point victory against a defiant Bristol side, who had not scored a try in seven years at Saracens. It keeps the defending champions in the hunt for a home play-off semi-final.

In arguably their worst performance of the season, despite naming a XV that included five of their six Lions, Saracens stumbled their way past the Premiership’s bottom side, who led 9-3 at half-time, with two tries from their replacement tighthead Du Plessis and one apiece from Chris Ashton and Nick Tompkins. Saracens, for whom Kelly Brown and Neil de Kock were making their final appearances, remain third but go to Wasps on the final day of the season, two points behind Dai Young’s side and Exeter, who are level on 79.

Related: Exeter eye summit as Jack Nowell seals bonus-point win over Northampton

Related: London Irish’s Nick Kennedy: time to seize Championship play-offs moment

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/apr/29/saracens-bristol-premiership-match-report

Apr 28

Harlequins’ Nick Evans says goodbye in style in victory over Wasps

• Harlequins 32-13 Wasps
• Nick Evans kicks 22 points but Danny Care an injury concern

Nick Evans waved goodbye to the Harlequins faithful with a style that has become the hallmark of his nine years in south-west London, orchestrating a victory that, while tempered by Danny Care’s injury scare, boosts their hopes of a top-six finish and a seat at Europe’s top table.

Care went off clutching his side and, if his place on England’s summer tour to Argentina is in doubt, he could well be replaced by his opposite number on the night, Dan Robson, who scored a fine try on what was otherwise a difficult evening for Wasps.

Related: Exeter’s Harry Williams: ‘The idea of international rugby is forming a bit more’

Related: Bristol may get relegation reprieve from the Championship play-offs

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/apr/28/harlequins-wasps-premiership-match-report

Apr 27

Bristol may get relegation reprieve from the Championship play-offs

• Victory for Doncaster or Ealing will save West Country club
• Only London Irish and Yorkshire Carnegie can step up to Premiership

Bristol will receive a relegation reprieve if Doncaster or Ealing Trailfinders win the Championship play-offs because neither club put itself through the Premiership’s entry-criteria process and so cannot be promoted.

Ealing play the first leg of their semi-final play-off against Yorkshire Carnegie in west London on Friday, while Doncaster host London Irish on Sunday. The two away sides this weekend have both met the criteria and if Carnegie and Doncaster both reach the final, Bristol will be relegated.

Related: Bristol end seven-year Premiership exile despite Doncaster’s late rally

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/apr/27/bristol-reprieve-championship-rugby-union-play-offs-doncaster

Apr 27

Wasps head to Harlequins with a home play-off semi-final in their sights

• Coventry club will finish top with a bonus-point win at the Stoop
• We are proud of the long unbeaten record at home, says Matt Mullan

Wasps were the masters of the play-off system when the Premiership adopted it 15 years ago, timing their run in the latter months and winning the first three finals despite never finishing at the top of the table. After flirting with bankruptcy and relegation this decade, the club who now play in Coventry rather than Wycombe will secure a home semi-final with victory over Harlequins at the Stoop on Friday night and first place if it is garlanded with a bonus point.

Victory, though, is far from assumed. Wasps have only won at the Stoop once in the league since March 2007 and lost on their last three visits. Quins have lost only two at home in the Premiership this season, with Saracens among the victims, and field the side that pushed another title-chasing side, Exeter, hard two weeks ago.

Related: Matt Mullan and Wasps burst into life to beat Northampton at the last

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/apr/27/wasps-harlequins-rugby-union-premiership-play-off-semi-final-stoop-matt-mullan

Apr 26

Exeter’s Rob Baxter sounds warning about playing fewer top-flight games

• Rugby clubs need to find a way to make a profit, Baxter adds
• Exeter prepare to take on Northampton and eye Premiership final

Leading players campaigning for fewer matches and shorter seasons have been warned by a top Premiership coach to wake up to the economic realities of their profession. Exeter’s Rob Baxter, believes the club game is not yet financially stable enough to justify a reduction in players’ workloads and says jobs could be lost if the sport does not adjust its mind-set.

“We need to be careful in rugby not to become turkeys voting for Christmas,” said Baxter, whose Chiefs squad are vying to reach the Premiership final for the second successive year. “Premiership rugby is not some business that is making millions. The players aren’t being exploited because no one’s making any money out of it.

Related: Holding 2023 Rugby World Cup in Ireland would capture hearts and minds | Robert Kitson

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/apr/26/exeter-rob-baxter-warning-premiership-players-northampton

Apr 25

British and Irish Lions tour will be cut, says Premiership Rugby

• Chief executive Mark McCafferty says things must change
• New global season comes into effect in 2020

The British and Irish Lions tour to New Zealand this summer will be the last in its existing six-week format, Premiership Rugby has confirmed.

Mark McCafferty, chief executive of the umbrella organisation for the 12 English clubs, has echoed the stance of his Rugby Football Union counterpart, Ian Ritchie, that the tours must be shortened as part of the new global season that comes into effect in 2020.

Related: Warren Gatland calls for Lions to get more preparation time for future tours

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/apr/25/premiership-rugby-british-irish-lions-tour-cut

Apr 16

Wasps consign Bristol to bottom place with a comfortable victory

• Bristol 21-36 Wasps
• Bristol face almost certain relegation

Wasps consigned Bristol to a last‑place finish in the Aviva Premiership and almost certain relegation after claiming a comfortable 36-21 victory at Ashton Gate.

Bristol are 12 points behind Worcester with just two games left, and the only way they can now survive in English rugby’s top flight is if the eventual Championship title winners do not meet Premiership entry criteria.

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/apr/16/bristol-wasps-premiership-match-report

Apr 16

Alex Lozowski sparks Saracens revival to defeat dominant Northampton

• Northampton 25-27 Saracens
• Late conversion keeps Saracens in hunt for top-two finish

If this was a duel between England’s two hookers vying for a place in the British & Irish Lions squad, then Dylan Hartley can celebrate a comprehensive win but it will be little consolation after a smash-and-grab win for Saracens they had little right to claim.

It was Alex Lozowski who sparked the champions’ revival, making the break for Marcelo Bosch’s try and nailing a tricky conversion to put Saracens ahead in the closing minutes and keep them in the hunt for a top-two finish. How Northampton contrived to lose a match they had largely dominated will be of huge frustration to Jim Mallinder, even if Saracens’ resilience has to be marvelled at.

Related: Lions squad: two-tone approach may throw Warburton and Hartley a lifeline | Paul Rees

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/apr/16/northampton-saracens-premiership-match-report

Apr 15

Worcester’s rare win over Bath makes them all but safe from the drop

• Worcester 25-19 Bath
• Will Spencer seals Worcester victory over bogey side

Worcester may not be safe mathematically but Bristol’s number is up. The Warriors’ second-half rally against their Premiership bogey side took them 12 points clear of the bottom club who have three matches to play, including the leaders Wasps on Sunday and the champions Saracens in the penultimate round. Even a miracle would not be enough.

Worcester knew victory would turn their survival prospects from probable to almost certain, but they had beaten Bath only twice in 21 Premiership meetings and once in the previous 15. The Lions’ assistant coaches Rob Howley and Steve Borthwick were in the stand as they prepared for Wednesday’s squad announcement.

Related: Ellis Genge’s belligerent display earns Leicester a bonus over Newcastle

Related: Mark Tainton fights on but says Pat Lam can lead Bristol to the big time

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/apr/15/worcester-bath-premiership-match-report

Apr 15

Ellis Genge’s belligerent display earns Leicester a bonus over Newcastle

• Leicester 30-3 Newcastle
• Ellis Genge scored two tries to help tighten Tigers’ grip on fourth place

Leicester DNA was the topic of conversation for Matt O’Connor last week and here was conclusive proof that Ellis Genge has it in spades. The 22-year-old loosehead scored two tries in a bonus point victory, on O’Connor’s first match back at Welford Road. But it was Genge’s attitude that most caught the eye.

He has a snarl about him that has long since convinced Eddie Jones and he has already endeared himself to the Leicester faithful. He was replaced after an hour – perhaps for his own good after yet more afters – but there can be little doubting he was the catalyst for a victory that tightens their grip on fourth place following Bath’s defeat at Worcester.

Related: Worcester’s rare win over Bath makes them all but safe from the drop

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/apr/15/leicester-newcastle-premiership-match-report

Apr 15

Mark Tainton fights on but says Pat Lam can lead Bristol to the big time

Bristol probably need to beat Wasps to have a chance of staying up but their outgoing head coach insists relegation would not ruin the club’s grand plans

Easter Sunday is associated with resurrection and Bristol are in need of divine intervention if they are to dodge an immediate return to the Championship. Having been within three minutes of beating last season’s beaten finalists, Exeter, a week ago, they on Sunday face the Premiership leaders, Wasps, at Ashton Gate with matches running out.

After Bristol were relegated in 2009, they spent seven years in the rugby wilderness. The money went, then the players, and when they assembled a competitive squad they were tripped up by the Championship’s play-off system. Should they go down again, however, their return is likely to be far quicker, with the club financially stable and underpinned by a strong infrastructure.

Related: Worcester take giant leap towards safety by hitting Bristol for six

Related: ‘Big Cats’, brand reviews and the rampant commercialism of the Lions | Gerard Meagher

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/apr/15/mark-tainton-pat-lam-bristol-big-time-wasps

Apr 14

Exeter march on but Henry Slade a saint and sinner against Harlequins

• Harlequins 26-39 Exeter
• Eddie Jones on hand to watch Slade and Dave Ewers

Henry Slade’s delightful solo try lit up another bonus point victory for Exeter in which the Chiefs fly-half demonstrated his infuriating habit of dazzling and deflating in equal measure. Eddie Jones was in attendance, casting his eye over a raft of players who are likely to make his squad for the summer tour to Argentina and while Slade will be one of them, his tendency to blow hot and cold belies his unquestionable talent.

As it was, Slade’s dink over the top was a sucker punch for Harlequins, who had just conceded a similar try from Lachie Turner, drafted into the squad just an hour before kick-off, down the right. Up until then Harlequins had been competitive, Nick Evans keeping them in the hunt, but scores from the towering Dave Ewers – another in contention for the trip to South America – Michele Campagnaro, Slade and two for Turner ensured the Chiefs march towards the playoffs, now unbeaten in 13 league matches.

Related: Jack Clifford ruled out of England tour of Argentina with shoulder injury

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/apr/14/harlequins-exeter-premiership-rugby-match-report

Apr 10

Rugby union talking points from the weekend’s Premiership action

Saracens show relentlessness of champions, Sale’s academy proves productive while Exeter fail to convince in victory again

The scramble for fourth place, and with it a trip to one of three clubs who have lost two home matches between them in the league this season, both suffered by Exeter, looks to be going to the final round after Bath’s late rally at Twickenham. Bath’s decision to move a fixture they had only lost once at home in 11 years to London was made for commercial rather than rugby reasons, a desire to expand their fanbase before the Recreation Ground’s redevelopment when the club aim to become self-sufficient and no longer rely on the chairman Bruce Craig’s deep pockets. They have not looked championship material all season, painting a confused picture, if in vivid colours, and for once they came from behind against opponents whose collapses on the road this season extended into a third coach’s reign following the departures of Richard Cockerill and Aaron Mauger. Matt O’Connor sat in the stand before his first full week of training and watched his side blow an eight-point lead in the final 11 minutes. The Tigers look to have the better run-in of the three teams chasing fourth, but the fickle nature of the trio this season, summed up in the 80 minutes at HQ, means only uncertainty is certain. Paul Rees

Related: Bristol sink closer to relegation but Exeter have to work hard for win

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/apr/10/rugby-union-talking-points-from-the-weekends-premiership-action

Apr 09

Matt Mullan and Wasps burst into life to beat Northampton at the last

• Wasps 32-30 Northampton
• Mullen scores try in 80th minute which is converted by Jimmy Gopperth

It had seemed as if the Premiership’s longest unbeaten home run was about to be reset. It had seemed, just as the season reaches its climax, that Wasps’ wobbles were to be confirmed as fully set in. But with the last play of the game, after a 10-minute-long siege, Matt Mullan was driven over for a try whose conversion won the game 32-30. It also netted a bonus point, keeping them top of the table by five points.

Whether they can hope to win the whole thing with defence like theirs remains unlikely, but that attack of theirs is spectacular. At times in the second half they were unplayable, but their first half was almost as chaotic as their 32-17 defeat to Leinster had been in Dublin the week before. Northampton walk away with two bonus points themselves, moving them level on points with Harlequins in the race for the top six. They outscored Wasps five tries to four, but they could not cope with the varying depths of Wasps’ attacking runners, whose threat remains unmatched in this league.

Related: Three teams to be cut as Super Rugby reverts back to 2015 model

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/apr/09/wasps-northampton-premiership-match-report

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