That weekend was once again entertaining in both Hemispheres as the competitions are definitely too unpredictable. In the Southern Hemisphere, the Currie Cup is reaching the end of the regular season while there is a battle for relegation in the Mitre 10 Cup, too.
In the Aviva Premiership, just after four Rounds, there are no teams which are remaining unbeaten. It just shows how competitive the league is and we could say the same about the Pro14 and the Top14, considering the results that we got this weekend.
With Rugby Championship taking a rest this weekend, there were plenty of rugby played around the world. Here is a review of some of these contests in the North and the South. It features games from the european leagues, the Currie Cup and the Mitre 10 Cup, too.
* Cheetahs vs. Leinster : Pro14 (Bloemfontein, South Africa)
That was definitely the big game of the Pro14 for the weekend and the fans in Bloemfontein were not disappointed. The Cheetahs started that game with some intent as their fly-half Ernst Stapelberg scored the defining penalties for the team in the first-half.
Towards the end of the first-half, there was a great combination at scrum time, allowing William Small-Smith to score. The Cheetahs kept their attacking mindset with their forwards Thorsten Van Jaarsveld and prop Ox Nche scoring thanks to their set-piece.
Leinster almost achieved a perfect comeback with Sean Cronin and Jack Conan trying to make a big impact. However, the Cheetahs hung on superbly for a famous win as the franchise claimed a bonus point. That was a famous win for the Cheetahs (FT : 38-19).
* Gloucester vs. Worcester : Premiership (Kingsholm, England)
The Cherry And Whites started the game with their usual attacking game and they got some rewards. Fullback Jason Woodward threw some beautiful offloads and Gloucester scored two early tries. Worcester Warriors were on the back foot, unable to play rugby.
It seemed that the second-half was going to be the same when Henry Trinder made a wonderful assist for Billy Twelvetrees. However, after that, Gloucester spent too much time on defence and Worcester came back thanks to their skipper Donncha O’Callaghan.
Centre Ben Te’o found some gaps in the Gloucester defence and Ryan Mills had a good game at fly-half. The Worcester Warriors pushed until the end and went for the winning try. Nevertheless, Gloucester defended their lines and the home team won it (FT : 24-19).
* Hawke’s Bay vs. Taranaki : Mitre 10 Cup (McLean Park, Napier)
The two provinces were very strong in defence in the first part of the second-half with Referee Shaun McDermott giving some yellow cards warnings. Taranaki spent some time in the Hawke’s Bay 22-metre zone and Toa Halafihi scored a try after a very good scrum.
Hawke’s Bay definitely came back at the end of the first-half when Cardiff Vaega and Iahai West both scored. The turning point of the game happened at the beginning of the second-half when the scrum-half Te Toira Tahuriorangi was brought on for Taranaki.
His passing game and his tempo was defining for Taranaki and he set up some tries. Taranaki relied on the driving maul to score while Sean Wainui concluded a beautiful move. Finally, they got the bonus point as Hawke’s Bay did not come back (FT : 17-48).
* Clermont vs. Racing 92 : Top14 (Marcel Michelin, France)
These two teams always deliver some good performances when they face each other and that Top14 game was no exception. Clermont scored the first try in that contest when the Fijian winger Alivereti Rakka gathered a cross-field kick to score in the Racing 92 in-goal.
Racing 92 were never out of this game though as scrum-half Teddy Iribaren landed some penalties to keep them in the game. The second-half was played on a very slow tempo as the two sides were guilty of some lack of discipline with the referees branding the cards.
Clermont had two yellow cards while Racing 92 played with 14 players at a time. The difference in the game was Clermont’s ability to defend when they had players on the sin-bin. Camille Lopez scored some penalties to secure the win in a close one (FT : 23-21).
* Harlequins vs. Leicester : Premiership (The Stoop, London)
It was the blockbuster of the Saturday afternoon with that game taking place at The Twickenham Stoop. The first-half was very scrappy as Leicester Tigers scored the only try at that stage. Fullback Telusa Veainu scored and George Ford just converted the try.
The second-half was really entertaining as the Harlequins came back with some running rugby. Leicester Tigers replied with Jonny May and Greg Bateman touching down. George Ford’s display was the difference as he landed the penalty which sealed the win.
There was a controversy in that game as Referee Ian Tempest seemed to ignore an obstruction on Marland Yarde. However, Joe Marler probably should have received a yellow card against Wasps the week before so there were few complaints (FT : 28-31).
* Western Province vs. Griquas : Currie Cup (Newlands, Cape Town)
That Currie Cup game was very physical as the two sides played in a very direct route during the 80 minutes. The Western Province were a bit under pressure at the beginning with the Griquas landing some penalties and rewarding the work of the forwards pack.
The Western Province relied on his world-class stars to make the difference : Wilco Louw, Nizaam Carr, Sikhumbuzo Notshe and Damian de Allende, Dillyn Lleyds and Seabelo Senatla. They all made the difference at some stage in that good game to win it.
In fact, the Western Province had a big forwards pack and scored some tries thanks to that with Damian Willemse running the backline. The Griquas remained in the contest in the second-half but then it was definitely a bridge too far for the Griquas (FT : 55-27).
* Scarlets vs. Edinburgh : Pro14 (Llanelli, Wales)
The Pro14 defending Champions had to wait a quarter in the game to find their attacking game. The Scarlets coach Wayne Pivac started all his best players in the backline including Rhys Patchell, Hadleigh Parkes, Jonathan Davies and winger Johnny McNicholl.
Scrum-half Gareth Davies scored a great try though there was a suspicion of an obstruction while back-rower Aaron Shingler scored a try on the left wing. Edinburgh were not helped in the second-half with a red card after a dangerous clear-out in a ruck.
Finally, the Scarlets got the bonus point try as the Irish second-row Tadgh Beirne got the Man Of The Match award. The Edinburgh staff disagreed with some of the calls made by the officials during the contest and in particular the Irish referee, John Lacey (FT : 28-8).
* Brive vs. Toulouse : Top14 (Amédée Domenech, France)
That was a Top14 game with so much at stake as Toulouse wanted to keep the momentum while Brive wanted to win a first game after four defeats. The game was very much in the balance in the first quarter of the game with some penalties exchanged.
Stade Toulousain had the better thanks to their brillant offloading game as hooker Leonardo Ghiraldini scored on the left wing. Then, the Australian playmaker Zack Holmes scored a brillant individual try, finding some huge gaps in the Brive defence.
In the second-half, Brive fought back and touched down thanks to a powerful driving maul. Toulouse were put under pressure in the closing stages of the game. Brive had a 5-metre scrum but Stade Toulousain got a penalty and that was the end (FT : 19-22).
* London Irish vs. Northampton : Premiership (Madejski Stadium, London)
The Northampton Saints may have heavily lost against Saracens in the first Round but their season is really improving. Against the London Irish, they scored two tries in the opening exchanges. The Wallaby winger Rob Horne scored a great double in that game.
The Wales winger George North delivered a very solid performance while Mikey Haywood had his try after a good driving maul. London Irish did fight back with winger Alex Lewington scoring a wonderful try on his wing to give some relief to his teammates.
Nevertheless, that was not enough as scrum-half Cobus Reinach picked up a loose pass to score a try. The Northampton Saints got a bonus point win while London Irish will have to bounce back as they could fight relegation with Worcester Warriors (FT : 25-40).
The Currie Cup and the Mitre 10 Cup will reach the end of the regular season soon, meaning that the November Internationals are not too far now. The respective provinces will hope that a strong finish will pave the way for a good Super Rugby season in 2018.
In the Top14, Clermont are still trying to find their mojo with Stade Toulousain discovering again their offloading game. The Pro14 was entertaining once again because the Cheetahs made a massive statement as they won against Leinster in Bloemfontein.
Finally, it seems that another would be needed to describe the Premiership as “competitive” is not enough representative anymore. With 50-50 calls in most of the games, the bonus points will definitely make the difference at the end of the season.
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