5 things we learnt from round 10 of the Gallagher Premiership

The biggest fixture in English rugby was finally decided

For months the speculation of Exeter v Saracens has been at the forefront of all rugby fans minds. The battle of the top two was played out at Sandy Park, with the home side ending Saracen’s run of 22 games unbeaten across all competitions. The win over Saracens is Exeter’s 4thsuccessive victory on home turf and Saracens second half problems saw Exeter run away with the win. 

The second half display was unusual with Owen Farrell missing from the boot and Burger being sent to the sin bin. By no means does this define the season but it proves how good sides can be with the added extra of the home advantage. Saracens will host Exeter in 2019 and what will be interesting is whether the 16thman will have the same effect it does at Sandy Park. Either way, the likelihood of these two sides playing each other for the third time in the Premiership is looking ever more likely.

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Tiger’s win is a breath of fresh air

Finally, after eight games Leicester’s losing streak has ended. This doesn’t mean that Tigers have gotten out of trouble with the club still in a dangerous place both on and off the pitchthebut it does instil some hope back into the Leicester faithful going into the New Year. The first 40 minutes was some of the best rugby that Tigers have produced all season and showed glimpses of what this side is capable of doing. The quality of players that Tigers have should be able to perform like this every weekend and a lot better however, something still isn’t right, and if you look into next season the transfer rumours are not looking good. A win is a win and with the bonus point over Harlequins they have a little bit of breathing space but if they stand any chance of going back to ‘the old Leicester’ they desperately need to find their roar in the New Year.

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Bath looked strong, Wasps looked weak

In front of a 30,000 + crowd at The Ricoh arena you would expect Wasps to put 20 points plus on any side that was up against them, but this weekend Wasps’ fierce attack and formidable defence from old was completely gone. 

Freddie Burns controlled the game beautifully for Bath and helped them never lose their lead courtesy of a try of his own and many points from his boot. Nevertheless, this is a Wasps side we are not used to. Wasps are starting to look scared and at times weak. On Christmas Day, they unwrapped some fantastic contract extensions which is a much-needed boost for the club, given their current transfer rumours. The sooner decisions are made on player’s futures the better for the Coventry club, because they need to start putting more focus on the field rather than off it.

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Who is going to be relegated? 

Bristol, Newcastle, Worcester, Sale, Northampton? Just five points separate the bottom five clubs and as the weekend has shown, one win can save you from the dreaded 12thplace. Bristol took a fall to 10thplace after their loss at the AJ Bell Stadium, somewhere that they will have no doubt targeted as a potential win. Sale’s win saw them move up into 8thplace. There have been talks of relegation being taken out of the Premiership, however, personally, I think this battle is better than the one at the top. It is at times like this where clubs and players pull together and can put in astonishing performances to show their worthiness within the competition. Newcastle are currently sitting in 12thplace however, Bristol and Worcester sit above them they have won the same amount of games and have only 2 points separating them so anything really could happen.

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Burns’ criticism following the Toulouse mistakes isn’t good for the sport

If you have ever heard me talk about rugby, one thing that I emphasise on is that rugby players, athletes, coaches are all human and by human nature we all make mistakes. Burns put in the Man of The Match performance against Wasps at the weekend and said it was a ‘monkey off his back’ following the ‘’dark place’’ he had been in after his mistakes a few months ago. 

 His ‘try’ looked to have stolen the win from Toulouse the fatal mistake of celebrating before the ball touched the ground got the better of Burns before the ball was knocked out of his hands and of course no try followed. Succeeding the game there was wonderful messages of support but as always some messages that were not nice to read nor were some punditry or media opinions.

 None other than the former Bath player Jeremy Guscott showed little empathy towards Burns after his bad day on the pitch. I am sure that if you watch every second of Guscott’s playing footage there will be mistakes in there, likewise for any player, as of course no one is perfect.

Words hurt people, it is a known fact and in a sport where the pressure is so high and the recent figures of mental health struggles within the game it seems like there needs to be a new way to approach opinions for when a player makes a mistake. Rugby values are founded upon teamwork and support so surely that counts the most when a player is struggling?

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