5 things we learnt from Round 2 of the Gallagher Premiership

Exeter are just as good playing away from home

The Ricoh arena saw a thrilling ten try display this weekend and both teams were evenly matched in the first half but Exeter took the match away from Wasps in the second half. Chiefs now sit 10 points clear at the top of the table and have the correct attitude moving forward to round three. Chief’s confidence is growing each season and so is their proven ability to play either out wide or to use the power of their forwards. Whatever play they choose they know how to back themselves as both individuals and as a team and they are becoming increasingly hard to beat. Sandy Park will always be a tough place to visit but Chiefs are just as good on the road – as are their dedicated supporters.
Rob Baxter and his men know how they want to play this season and seem to have both European and domestic titles on their mind. If they continue playing the way they are then the double title will seem a real possibility

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Marcus Smith is turning into a very special player

Despite Harlequins’ defeat to Northampton Saints at the weekend, one player, in particular, shone brighter than any other in the neon green shirt. Marcus Smith is slowly but surely becoming an international player.
Smith produced two try-saving tackles to help soften the defeat on Friday. His courage on the pitch doesn’t go unnoticed and he thrives under pressure.
He seems to have the 10 shirt for the remainder of the season given he doesn’t pick up any injuries during the campaign and I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s included in the England Six Nations squad in the spring, but this time not as an apprentice player.
He is still young and needs time to mature as both a player and a person but given the opportunity, I think he could surprise a lot of people if he plays in the white shirt.

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Geordan Murphy’s Tigers bite back

After a turbulent week, Geordan Murphy’s Tigers side went back to their winning ways with their impressive performance against Newcastle Falcons, despite them losing their head coach just days before. Tigers have quickly turned around from a poor result against Exeter the previous week and Following last season’s disappointment with a fifth-place finish under coach Matt O’Connor.  Murphy is off to a flying start and the players responded well to the new coaching setup with a Tigers Roar from the home crowd the likes of which has not been heard for some time at Welford Road.  Murphy’s twenty-year association with the club will benefit the team in this interim period.

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Bristol can test the top teams

So far Bristol have really surprised me. Despite their loss this round they did show lots of promise up until the second forty. The reigning champions Saracens were even trailing at half-time, which just proves how good Bristol have been playing.
However, the rise in intensity between championship and premiership has started to show, with Bristol’s discipline suffering when Saracens started to push them. Despite this, you cannot fault the commitment the Bears players gave to the shirt and they should take pride in their performance.  They face Gloucester away from home on Friday night, which will be a hard place to go, but if they stay on the correct side of the penalty count the match could go in their favour.

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Gloucester need to be better in the last quarter

With a 21-0 lead over Bath, Gloucester should not have let Bath back into the game.  Following Baths resurgence with two quick tries, either side of half-time caused Gloucester to panic.  Elliot Stooke scored for Bath with six minutes to go to share the spoils with both teams taking away two premiership points from the game. Gloucester have to be more accurate with their game and reduce their error count.
Cipriani is looking like Gloucester’s key to any success this season.  He was instrumental in assisting the coach’s son, Ruan Ackermann’s two first-half tries. With Cipriani orchestrating the back line, and the added bonus of having Matt Banahan on the wing brings try-scoring power from these two major summer signings which hopefully will have a positive impact on the Cherry and Whites season. Gloucester does seem to have a problem that they have carried through multiple seasons of not being able to perform or hold their lead in the last quarter of the game. Countless games have been lost because of it. They were just very lucky that this weekend the final minutes worked in their favour.

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