Aviva Premiership League Fixtures, 2-4 March. Round 17
An exciting weekend in the Aviva Premiership. Things are hotting up at the top of the league, though the Chiefs will take some catching as they move 7 points clear. London Irish are fighting to move away from the bottom. Leicester may be about to break into the top 4.
Exeter Chiefs v Saracens - Saturday 3rd March, kick-off @ 1500hrs at Sandy Park
The extra 24 hours rest after the match was postponed due to weather conditions didn’t bring any relief for the Saracens. They fielded a much-depleted team, missing were Schalk Burger, Callum Clark, Vincent Koch, Michael Rhodes, Will Skelton and Christopher Tolufua, down to injury. This was in addition to the expected absence of Mako Vunipola, Maro Itoje, and Jamie George, away on international duty. Exeter Chiefs came to the match with a strong side, Joe Simmonds, brother of England International Sam Simmonds, made his Premiership debut, gaining three penalties for the Chiefs. Rob Baxter the Chiefs director of rugby was extremely happy with the team’s performance, stating that the 7 point lead really strengthens their position at the top of the league. Putting down their last match’s slightly skittish performance to the players wanting to give their best, and noting how the pressure riding on this match brought out a good performance. Saracens much-depleted team had two new starters, Ben Earl (who scored) and Blair Cowan. Mark McCall their Director of Rugby rated both players performance highly. If things couldn’t get any worse Saracens lost Captain Brad Barritt and Winger Chris Wyles just after half time. McCall was still pleased with the team's overall performance, seeing an improvement over their last match defeat against Leicester. The play was a little frantic at times, he claimed due to the inexperience of some in the side.
Wasps v London Irish - Sunday 4 March 2018, kick-off @ 1500 at the Ricoh Arena
Wasps director of Rugby Dai Young wasn’t at all impressed by his team's performance. “We were really poor today”, he said, “a tired and flat team that made too many errors. The best side lost.” Despite falling to the bottom of the league, London Irish put in a spirited performance against the West Midlands based Wasps. They were trailing seven to nil at halftime. Tommy Bell’s substitution for Grieg Tonks after the break brought a welcome three points and the team stepped up its’ efforts, pulling back to lose by 8 points. If they continue to perform as they did against the Wasps, London Irish stand a good chance of moving away from their bottom place.
Worcester Warriors v Leicester Tigers - Sunday 4th March 2018, kick-off @ 1500 at Sixways
A thorough dousing with winter rain in the warm-up led to very wet conditions for the match. Not that this seemed to hamper Leicester. The Tigers put in a strong performance keeping Worcester on the back foot for a lot of the time. Leicester achieved a convincing victory, that’s three in a row now. Not everything went Leicester’s way, Alafoti Fa’osiliva placing the ball to gain 5 points for Worcester 20 minutes into the first half. Leicester continued to dominate for the rest of the match. Worcester’s director Alan Solomons thought his team performed better than last time but they were still making too many mistakes. Matt O’Connor head coach at Leicester was impressed by his team's performance. “We are improving week by week”, he said.
Remaining Fixtures of Round 17
Friday 2nd March, kick-off @ 1945hrs
Saturday 3rd March, kick-off @ 1500hrs
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