EXETER, ENGLAND – Somebody forgot to tell the Chiefs and Bath that Premiership matches aren’t supposed to be entertaining during the Six Nations. The sides played out an absolutely thrilling match, with Bath squeaking past a heartbroken Exeter by a final score of 27-23. George Ford put forth an impeccable performance, landing a perfect seven out of seven kicks and releasing his centres with quality passes. Though Owen Farrell appears to have the number 10 shirt locked down for now, a performance on the same level as his below-average effort against Scotland may see him on the bench. Leicester must now deeply regret letting Ford walk for one more year of Toby Flood.
Tigers Dire in Victory
Leicester managed to defeat a miserable Gloucester at Kingsholm, delivering an 11-8 victory which left their West Country opponents desolate. After last weekend’s close encounter against Worcester, the Tigers appear to be at a crossroads. Richard Cockerill’s team continues to win matches, but their paper-thin squad has been absolutely decimated by injuries. News that prop Dan Cole will be out for the immediate future with a neck injury will further strain the Premiership’s most storied side. Though Leicester have made a spectacular nine consecutive Premiership finals, it appears as though this may be the year the streak comes to an end. Improved competition has spelled the doom of many dynasties before, and Freddy Burns will need to hit the ground running to gain the trust of wary Tigers fans.
Worcester Likely Finished
All season, it has appeared that Worcester would be in danger of the drop. While it was always going to be difficult for the Warriors to face up to table topping Northampton, another limp performance leaves them eleven points behind the pack. Jonathan Thomas embarrassed himself with a 52nd minute red card for slapping Sam Dickinson, who was awarded a yellow for his role in the fracas. At the time of Thomas’ sending off, the Warrior trailed by only five points, but within four minutes try from GJ van Velze put the match out of reach. The Saints eventually cruised to victory by a final score of 30-14.
Harlequins flew out the gate with two tries inside thirty minutes, but the Falcons refused to give up, taking the lead with fourteen unanswered points. Heartbreak awaited, as Newcastle undid themselves with two kickable penalties in the last five minutes. After the horn sounded, Ben Botica slotted through, and the Harlequins breathed a sigh of relief. While the bonus point loss is unlikely to be much consolation, the Falcons played extremely well away from home, demonstrating great spirit against an admittedly under-strength Harlequins side, who were lacking eight first-choice players.
Irish Continue Revival
London Irish won the battle of the capital, taking down the London Wasps in a tight contest at Adams Park. The Wasps will be ruing the unfulfilled promise of this season, unable to hit the offensive heights of last campaign. This match was also marred by a red card from Irish scrum-half Tomas O’Leary, who was sent off in the forty eighth minute for stamping. O’Leary looks set for a lengthy ban, though it is unlikely to have much impact on the Irish’s season, with the London side sitting safely out of the relegation zone, but far out of the playoff fight. The Irish took a victory thanks to a Shane Geraghty drop-goal, which took the score to 23-20 in favor of the visitors. In the weekend’s early match, Saracens beat Sale 15-10, keeping pressure on the Saints at the top of the table. Northampton sits on 55 points, while the Saracens have 54. Bath is far behind on 44, while Harlequins and Leicester are tied with 40 apiece.