The Aviva Premiership opening round gave us just a glimpse of what’s in store for the rest of the season. The weekend in itself was record breaking. 374 points, including 50 tries was enough to surpass the previous record and open the season with a real bang!
Much was said going into the first round, that this will be the biggest and best season in the Premiership to date. With the calibre and quality of the new signings on show, there’s no reason to suggest otherwise.
What was delivered was brilliance, phenomenal tries and dominance. Everything fans deserved, and more.
Brilliant Brits Blows Away Saints
Even without the quality of Owen Farrell and the Vunipola brothers, Saracens were at their best against Northampton Saints. Sarries blew the Saints away, leading 41-3 at half time. Hooker Schalk Brits was a deserved man of the match, underlining his position as arguably the best in the Premiership. It was one of, if not his best performance in a Saracens shirt.
Brits plays like a back-row – attacks the fringes, disrupts at the breakdown and adept at finding space. His defensive work is good but his attack is far superior. His line breaks constantly gave Sarries a platform to attack and offloads like a Fijian sevens player. Brits had a hand in a number of Saracens’ tries, most notably Alex Lozowski’s and Sean Maitland’s. However, the 36-year old has stated this season will be his last in rugby. On Saturday’s performance, boy is he going out with a bang.
Watch | Grab a cuppa , sit backand enjoy this Schalk Brits masterclass! pic.twitter.com/uq4YM0JmKy
— Saracens Rugby Club (@Saracens) September 4, 2017
Irish Get Off To Perfect Start
No one quite expected as good a performance from that of Premiership new boys London Irish. The newcomers began their league campaign with a phenomenal bonus point win over Harlequins at Twickenham. Blair Cowan’s display in the loose alone would be enough to earn him a Scotland recall. Cowan caused so many problems for Quins and was deservedly named man of the match. His turnover at the ruck and subsequent offload to Tommy Bell to get Irish’s first try exemplified their desire to attack.
There were a number of standout players. Bell kept the score board ticking over with the boot and gave Irish the lead that never slipped. Topsy Ojo took his try very well after a neat cross field kick from James Marshall. All of the newly promoted side’s tries had the hallmarks of a team more accustomed to the Premiership than the Greene King IPA Championship.
Brendan Mckibbins’ try at the death rounded off a superb game. However, the result will count for nothing if Irish cannot go on and build momentum.
How good! Awesome way to start the season, it’s always better when everyone says you can’t! pic.twitter.com/Mb0zJSwQnD
— James Marshall (@JimiMar) September 3, 2017
Hat Tricks, Tries, Tries And More Tries!
Saracens undoubtedly looked the team of the weekend, but Wasps weren’t far behind. However, Wasps seemed to slip back to their defensive frailties of last season. Despite scoring 50 points against Sale, the visitors still managed to secure a try-bonus point themselves from their 35 points.
Wasps scrum half Dan Robson became only the 13th player in Premiership history to score four tries in a game. Another player to stake a claim for international recognition, Robson will have surely caught the eye of Eddie Jones. Whether Robson can continue his form, only time will tell, but for now will cement his Wasps place.
Back at Twickenham Sean Maitland put to bed any disconcerting whispers that Saracens had lost their key man in Chris Ashton. Maitland, who scored three, looks a likely figure to replace Ashton as Sarries’ try scoring machine. Maitland has not always had his fair share of opportunities at Saracens, and with the likes of Nathan Earle and Mike Ellery waiting in the wings, this season could be the one where the Kiwi flyer rises to the challenge.
Gloucester, Bath Impress
Gloucester’s last-gasp win against the reigning champions showed that Exeter Chiefs ‘won’t have it easy’ as they look to defend their crown. Jason Woodward slotted in to the Glaws attack with ease, following his summer move from Bristol. His try to seal the game in the dying stages will give Gloucester and new coach Johan Ackermann huge confidence.
— Ultimate Rugby (@ultimaterugby) September 4, 2017
Newcastle’s dominant win against Worcester showed they have enough quality in their squad to compete in the top half of the table. Worcester could find themselves in a relegation battle if their away form suffers. Despite being without Toby Flood and the Matavesi brothers, other players have to come to the fore. Juan Pablo Socino is one of those players and is certainly one to watch in the north east this season.
Leicester Tigers’ backline was hyped up so much going into round one that it failed to fire. Despite Manu Tuilagi scoring on his return from injury, Bath held on for a famous victory at Welford Road. The Tigers could have won it, but Semesa Rokoduguni’s length of the field try sealed the game for Bath.
— BT Sport Rugby (@btsportrugby) September 3, 2017
Both sides have a lot to prove this season and will be vying for at least top four finishes.
The table is still not a clear indication of where teams will end up. Bonus points now could be vital come rounds 20, 21 or 22. The predictions and conjecture is still to be confirmed. So players may ‘make hay now’ while the sun is shining.
And the sun shone brightly on the Aviva Premiership 2017/18. And long may it continue.
“Main photo credit”
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