Category Archives: rugby Union

Weekend Roundup

Last weekend saw some classic sport on your screens, but did you miss some of it.

Lightening struck twice in the football league this season as Watford scored 18 seconds after their keeper had saved a penalty to put them into the playoff final, a repeat of the Brentford V Doncaster Rovers game which saw Rovers claim the title.

Manager Gianfranco Zola celebrated on the pitch with his stars and they will now face either Brighton and Hove Albion or Crystal Palace in the richest game in football.

Outside of football, Fernando Alonso won his home Grand Prix in Spain as Mercedes drivers Nico Rosberg (who started on pole) and Lewis Hamilton (second on the grid)  were unable to cope with their tyre wear.

Leroy Cudjoe produced a fantastic performance as Huddersfield Giants defeat Leeds Rhinos 24-8 in the Tetley’s Challenge Cup, with the England centre scoring two tries.

Elsewhere Wigan Warriors’ star Sam Tomkins scored four tries as they beat Hull Kr 46-14 and holders Warrington Wolves won 52-6 against Salford City Reds.

Rafael Nadal won the Madrid Open as his dominance on clay continues and Serena Williams claimed her 50th career singles title beating Maria Sharapova.

Leicester Tigers and Northampton Saints beat Harlequins and Saracens respectively as they set up the Aviva Premiership final, with the Tigers looking to take another title.

In America, Tiger Woods claimed his second Players Championship title beating Sergio Garcia after the Spaniard found water on the par three 17th.

For more information about this weeks sport, look out for our preview later in this week.

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First XV – Six Nations Free Weekend sees the best in the Aviva – By Andrew Todd

Without the RBS Six Nations to worry about this weekend, attention turned to the Aviva Premiership.

With six fixtures left prior to the week, it was all to play for, at the top and the bottom of the table.

The most exciting match up was at the Rec on Friday night where Bath played hosts to neighbours Gloucester in a West Country derby. Both sides are embroiled in the battle for the play off places and it was Bath who came out on top, claiming a 31-25 victory.

Friday night also saw arguably the biggest shock of the weekend where struggling Worcester managed to put play off challengers London Wasps to the sword. The Worcester men ran out narrow 29-23 winners over the Londoners to almost certainly guarantee premiership Rugby next season.

Another shock came at the Stoop, where the table toppers coming into the weekend were comprehensively beaten by a superb Exeter Chiefs side. A superb kicking display by fly half Gareth Steenson helped his team to a surprise 27-16 win.

Elsewhere there were comfortable wins for the other three teams holding the play-off spots Saracens, Leicester and Northampton, who beat the bottom three, London Welsh, Sale and London Irish respectively.

Saracens went top of the table with their victory over London Welsh, despite Gavin Henson putting in a strong performance and Welsh Battling hard, the champions showed their metal, winning 35-14.

Leicester Tigers put bottom place Sale away very convincingly, a brace from forward Ed Slater and winger Matt Smith helped the mid-landers run out 48-10 winners.

Winger Jamie Elliot scored a hat-trick, helping his side Northampton Saints extend their lead on 5th place Gloucester to four points with a 40-14 victory over London Irish.

Saracens are now four points clear of second place Harlequins, but Sale Sharks still find themselves struggling at the bottom three points from safety.

 

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First XV – Premiership Review – By Andrew Todd

Although the Six Nations returned this week, there was still domestic Rugby Union to be played.

The biggest result of the weekend came at the Medejski Stadium where relegation battlers London Irish beat high flying London Wasps 30-19 to go five points clear of bottom of the table Sale Sharks.

After four consecutive victories the Sharks themselves were brought back down to earth with a thump against top of the table Harlequins, slipping to a 30-21 defeat.

Elsewhere there were wins for Northampton Saints, Gloucester, and Saracens. As well as another defeat for London Welsh who are now without a win in the league since the first of December.

These results leave Harlequins one point clear of Sarries at the top, while Gloucester have leapfrogged Wasps to claim fourth place and Sale now find themselves three points off the pace at the bottom.

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First XV – England Win Again – By Andrew Todd

This weekend saw the return of the RBS Six Nations and England chalking up another win on their path to potential Grand Slam glory.

Chris Robshaw led his England team with a man of the match performance to a 23-13 victory over France.

After a tight first half in which France went in one point ahead, Manu Tuilagi’s try, who was back in the starting 15, early in the second half, was enough to separate sides and quash French hopes.

Italy’s slump continued at the hands of the ever improving Wales. Tries from Alex Cuthbert and Jonathan Davies helped put the Italians to the sword with a 26-9 victory.

However, the shock of the weekend came at Murrayfield, where Scott Johnson’s and his Scotland team scraped to a narrow 12-8 victory over Ireland.

Four second half penalties from the boot of Greg Laidlaw was enough to seal the victory, however Ireland will be kicking themselves.

This result leaves Scotland sitting only two points behind leaders England and level on points with the holders, Wales. France’s continued terrible run leaves them sitting bottom of the table having failed to pick up a victory in any of their three games so far. With Ireland and Italy sitting third bottom and second bottom respectively after their second defeats of the championship.

With over half of the championship gone now, Warren Gatland will be developing a clearer picture of his potential Lions week on week. However this week no one stood out more than the inspirational Robshaw, who is now in many people’s eyes the favourite to be the skipper for the tour.

Scotland full back Stuart Hogg also finds himself with one foot on the plane to Australia after another strong performance this weekend. But competition for the full back shirt is high, with Wales’ Leigh Halfpenny continuing his strong run of form.

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First XV – Aviva Premiership – By Andrew Todd

With a week off from the RBS Six Nations all eyes were focusing back on domestic level Rugby Union this weekend and there were a number of crucial games in the English Premiership.

Perhaps the most crucial of all came at the Kassam Stadium, where Sale Sharks picked up a 26-25 victory to seal their fourth win in a row in all competitions, beating a beleaguered London Welsh.

This result leaves the Sharks still rooted to the foot of the table, but they find themselves now only three points behind Welsh who sit two places above them.

There was a top of the table clash at the Twickenham Stoop where Harlequins secured a 25-21 victory over the Leicester Tigers to go two points clear.

A try from Danny Care, back from England duty, and seven successful kicks from the boot of Ben Botica, were enough to see of a brave performance from the Tigers.

Despite these two big games, it was money spinning Saracens who took all the headlines. The opening of their new stadium, Allianz Park, and the artificial pitch that comes with it had a lot of speculation around it.

Despite this, everything went off without a glitch and Sarries secured a comfortable 31-11 victory over the Exeter Chiefs.

It was England’s old and new that were the difference, 16 points for former England international Charlie Hodgson, as well as a try for fellow veteran Matt Stevens, were enough to seal the win.

But not to be outdone, current England international Mako Vunipola went over the whitewash twice, to ensure the potentially vital four try bonus point was earned.

Elsewhere there were victories for London Wasps, Bath and Northampton Saints who now all find themselves in with a shout for the crucial top four places.

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First XV – England Top Group – By Andrew Todd

England went top of the RBS Six Nations with a gutsy 12-6 victory over Ireland in Dublin, to end a ten year baron run in the Irish capital yesterday.

England now find themselves two points clear at the top after Scotland defeated Italy and Wales won a close encounter away in France on Saturday, leaving Stuart Lancaster and his men as the only unbeaten side left in the championship and in prime position for their first grand slam since 2003.

Despite having the majority of possession, Ireland knocked-on numerous times and created very little against the white wall of defence in front of them.

In the lowest scoring match in Six Nations history, it was four Owen Farrell penalties, in reply to two from Ronan O’Gara, which was enough to clinch victory over an aggressive Irish side.

Scotland’s biggest ever win in the Six Nations brought Italy’s heroes from six days previous, back down to earth with a thump.

Tries from Tim Visser, Stuart Hogg, Sean Lamont and Matt Scott was enough for Scotland to see off Sergio Parisse and his men.

George North’s first try of the championship helped Wales beat France 16-6, ending a terrible run of eight defeats in a row.

In a lacklustre game in Paris, it was the boot of Leigh Halfpenney and North’s try that made the difference, leaving France licking their wounds for the second week in a row and sitting bottom of the table.

This week saw a considerably less number of outstanding performances but with British and Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland watching closely, it was again Farrell who stood out with another impressive performance with the boot.

With fellow fly half contender Jonny Sexton hobbling off injured too, this leaves the door even wider open for the young English man.

Another outstanding performer in Dublin was the England skipper’s Chris Robshaw, who definitely threw his hat further into the ring for the captaincy of the tour.

Unfortunately it was the Irish skipper Jamie Heaslip who lost out. His very unimpressive performance means the question still remains as to whether he really should have the captaincy over their talismanic former captain Brian O’Driscoll.

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First XV – Six Nations Preview – By Andy Todd

Last weekend saw the opening fixtures of this year’s Six Nations. With 16 tries scored and expansive rugby played throughout, this weekend’s games have a lot to live up to.

By far the best match up of this weekend’s fixtures is at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin, where Ireland play host to England.

Having both won last weekend, England will be looking to gain revenge over their Celtic counterparts after the Irish dashed their grand slam dreams in the final fixture of the 2011 Six Nations Championship.

Ireland beat Wales 30-22, leaving the Welsh with no victories in their last eight games. While England convincingly beat Scotland 38-18 leaving themselves top of the table.

But by far the biggest shock of last weekend came in Italy, where the Azzuri beat France 23-18, picking up only their second ever victory against the French.

The Italians travel to Murrayfield to face Scotland this weekend, while the French host Wales with both sides looking to get some points on the board.

With summer’s Lions tour is on the horizon, the first weekend of the Championship saw a number of players putting themselves a step closer to the plane.

Favourite to wear the number 10 jersey, Jonny Sexton, confirmed that belief for many with another solid display of game control. However, main rival for Sexton’s position, Owen Farrell displayed his talent with an impeccable kicking performance, as well as some brilliant play with ball in hand.

On what was a disappointing weekend for the Scots, one of the few positives can be taken from the performance of debutant winger Sean Maitland, who’s try will have the Lions’ coach Warren Gatland licking his lips at his ever expanding options.

Another winger who was extremely impressive was Irish youngster Simon Zebo. As well as scoring a try, his inspired all round performance will have Lions fans all over the UK and Ireland on the edge of their seats for this summer.

Many pundits and former professionals tipped Welsh outside centre Jonathon Davies to have nailed down the 13 jersey for the Lions, but where would talk of the Lions be without a mention of the seemingly ever improving Brian O’Driscoll. In what could be his last season in professional Rugby Union, no one deserves a last hurrah more than the former Irish captain.

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Classic Moments – Wales win 2005 Grand Slam

Once more, The Sporting Week looks at some classic moments of sport during the year.

Coming up soon is the start of the Six Nations Rugby Union tournament between England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, France and Italy.

In recent years, the contest has been highly competitive and seen some great action.

This years tournament looks like it will once again be a cracker with Wales, France and England having had positive autumns and their respected club teams and players finding form at the right time.

However, this classic comes from the 2005 campaign that saw Wales win the Grand Slam, despite playing more games away from home. This was the first time it had been done and has only been repeated once since by Ireland in 2009.

The video below is between Wales and England in the game that started the run for the Welsh.

The 2013 Six Nations campaign starts on Saturday 2nd February and The Sporting Week will have a comprehensive review of the tournament.

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Corbisiero Signs for Saints

England and London Irish prop Alex Corbisiero has signed for Northampton Saints and will join the club in the summer.

The prop made 76 appearances for the Exiles and currently has 18 England caps.

He is a central part of the current England side and was part of the successful 2011 Six Nations campaign.

he has been signed after the Saints revealed that they expect to loose Brian Mujati and Soane Tonga’uiha in the summer.

On the move, Corbisiero said: “There is a great culture and hopefully I can help the team succeed whilst continuing my progression as a player.”

He had been offered a new contract at the Exiles but felt the time was right for him to move on and progress his career.

Currently, the Saints are fifth in the table and are pushing towards another shot at the top four.

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Wasps Ready to Sting

London Wasps are a team on a mission and they are doing it with class.

The rugby union side have in the past been at the upper reaches of the game, having won Premiership and Heineken cups in the glory days, lead by England star Lawrence Dallaglio.

However in recent season they have languished down near the bottom of the table, and faced the real possibility of relegation last season.

Yet now, they are back, and back with a sting in their tail.

With England stars Tom Varndell and Christian Wade on the wing, they are the second leading points scorers in the league, behind only leaders Harelquins.

Although they have won only seven of their games in the league, out of a possible 13, they have picked up nine bonus points during the season, proving that no-one has demolished them thus far.

Yesterdays comfortable 29-15 home win against Bath gave them their ninth straight home win in all competitions at Adams Park and moved them up into the top four for the first time this year.

They have built this momentum by playing rugby safer, doing the simple things right but when it matter attack with power and pace and it is working for the High Wycombe outfit.

With this run appearing to have no end, Wasps could well be on the hunt for glory once more.

This weekends other results saw Saracens defeat bottom club Sale Sharks 32-12, Harlequins win away at London Welsh 26-31, Northampton defeat Exeter Chiefs 30-19 and London Irish surprisingly beat Gloucester 19-12.

 

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