5 things we learnt from round 5 of the Gallagher Premiership

Kyle Eastmond saved Tigers from another loss

Tigers scrapped a win by the skin of their teeth this weekend at Welford Road against bottom of the table Sale.
Kyle Eastmond returned to the starting XV and played a crucial part of his sides narrow win, scoring his sides only try of the afternoon.
Eastmond struggled to ‘fit the mould’ at Wasps following his stunning seasons at Bath and appearances on England team-sheets. But in recent seasons he has struggled to find the spark that he once had when he was at his prime with Bath. He is still a relatively young player at the age of 29, but his international chances are becoming more limited.
Tigers would appear to be the perfect club to reignite his spark and have a key player in their team who will still be available during the international periods – somewhere that Tigers have struggled with in the past.

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Todd Blackadder’s staying until 2020, but Bath still aren’t performing on the pitch

Last week Bath wrote a controversial open letter to their fans following the recent media attention around the club and the coaching set-up. It was announced that Blackadder, will stay with the club in the Director of Rugby role until 2020, and the current general manager Stuart Hooper will take over the position. However, both Toby Booth and Darren Edwards will not be renewing their current contracts which expire at the end of the season.
Despite the now somewhat settled backroom debate Bath still aren’t gelling as a team on the pitch and their heavy loss to Saracens at the weekend proves this.
Bath were only ahead of the table toppers once in their game and that was with a penalty in the first three minutes –which actually describes how the game went. Saracens were ‘Saracens’ and Bath couldn’t match the level of intensity and play that they brought. So although the coaching dispute might be settled they face far bigger problems in the field of play.

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“It’s a two-horse race and the rest are playing catch up.”

Worcester director of rugby Alan Solomons spoke after Worcester’s loss to Exeter at the weekend and indicating that the Premiership season has already been decided and everyone else is catching up with Saracens and Exeter.
I agree with this to an extent but it is still very early on in the season and a lot can change. Nevertheless, I can’t see either Saracens or Exeter dropping to10th place anytime soon. But, other teams could defiantly push them for the top two spaces in the table. At the moment Wasps look to be the only team that could push them this early on, but as the season develops I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a side like Harlequins push for a home semi-final if they eliminate their on-field mistakes.

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Alex Goode deserves a place in the England squad

It is pretty clear that for whatever reason Eddie Jones simply doesn’t like the way Alex Goode plays rugby, because if he did he would have been in an England shirt months ago. Goode’s display at the weekend in the words of his Director of Rugby, Mark McCall was an “incredible performance”.
Goode said he hasn’t spoken to the England boss Eddie Jones since his call in 2016 as to why he was no longer included in the December 2016 squad following a month after he claimed his 21st cap for the country.
Goode is arguably the best full-back in the country at the moment and he doesn’t even get a look in at the England squad, which I cannot fathom why.
Jones has taken the option to train those who are currently in his squad into a weaker positon for them so that they have the flexibility of being more of a utility player.
It just seems bizarre to take someone like Elliot Daly away from the position he plays the best in to mould him into a full-back when you have a perfectly fit and capable 15 sitting in front of you.

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Bristol doesn’t look like the team that will be fighting for survival at the end of the season

Although they lost to Northampton at Ashton Gate this weekend I am sure that Bristol will not be one of the teams fighting out the battle of relegation. Since their arrival in the Premiership five weeks ago they have shown full determination to make it to the sixth position that they are hoping for at the end of the season.
When watching Bristol play there are areas of their game that show their inexperience in top-flight​ English rugby and their struggle to pressurise the opposition into forcing errors. But they will improve throughout the season and if they can keep their key player’s injury free it looks like they will be joining us for another season in the premiership.

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