View from Heywood Road: Sale FC 59 Preston Grasshoppers 14
In the absence of very much rugby in the Premiership at the moment, it's worth looking across at Sharks' sister/founder club Sale FC. Having secured 2nd place in National 2 North, they were looking for the necessary points to guarantee a home playoff. Needing 9 from 2 games, they got 5 of them here with a 59-14 win. Here are some pictures I took.
FOR WHOM THE BRIS TOLS
Saracens vs Bristol Rugby Saturday 29 April Allianz Park It would be easy to get a sense of anti-climax in the aftermath of another famous win as Saracens added to their "bucket list" of notable victories in Dublin, but the dilemma will be whether to go all out for a bonus point win with a full strength line up, or employ a modified side, which, with respect to the relegated visitors, could still do the job of taking a massive step to a home semi-final with a bonus point success, given that Wasps face difficult tasks at Harlequins and at home to Saracens.
Well here it is. The last home game of the season, I look forward to welcoming the Warriors fans to Kingston Park, and hopefully can find a couple to chat with during the game this Friday. Funnily enough, the Warriors are now the only Premiership team that I haven't seen play so I am looking forward to a close encounter....
Two tough away games coming up...
The Ironmen face a couple of tough away matches with fixtures at Barrow and Workington coming up on 6th and 14th May respectively. The next home match is against Oxford at the Wern on Sunday 21st May. The fixtures and cup matches have given the club a chance to have a mini mid season break and hopefully they will come back stronger and that elusive first win will be achieved.
Bath have a chance to do a Premiership double over old rivals Gloucester at the Rec this Sunday. This derby fixture, usually a tense and fiery encounter, is given extra spice by respective league positions and comparative form. Gloucester have won 4 of their last 6 matches, picking up 12 precious league points against Bath’s paltry 4 in the same period. They have also forced their way to their third Challenge Cup Final, by stealing the first away win this season at La Rochelle. Bath, despite playing some highly entertaining rugby lost out to Stade Francais in the other Semi Final when composure deserted them in the final 4 minutes. So, Gloucester, with an outside chance of scrapping their way into the Premiership Top 6 seem in the ascendant, while Bath, having only recently slipped out of the Playoff places, look to be hanging on in hope. For all the sparkle of their attack when they get it right, Bath have been frail of late – both in defence and mentality. So – will the frustration of Paris give way to more disappointment and despair? Or do Bath have it in them to win in style as at Twickenham 3 weeks ago?
It's that time of year!
The rugby season is over for most clubs in the Championship. For four clubs, including our own Yorkshire Carnegie, the past 8 months was just the precursor to the main event. We are now into the play-offs. Doncaster Knights and Carnegie are old hands at this game but it is a first time for both London Irish and Ealing Trailfinders. The semi final first legs are this coming weekend....
Just two to Go!
Where has this season gone? It seems like moments ago we were bemoaning the poor start Chiefs made to this season and now all of a sudden we have just two league games to go.
As the season closes it's been a bit of a hard time for London Irish. Ospreys had already taken away the chance of a perfect season in the British and Irish Cup and then Jersey used their home advantage to deservedly take the Exiles unbeaten Championship record. Were the wheels coming off at the time when Irish were looking to accelerate back into the Premiership?
Our magnificent defence in La Rochelle has earned us the chance for some much needed silverware with another big effort required against Stade Francais at Murrayfield on May 12th ..
MASSIVE WIN LANDED AT LANSDOWNE
A virtually impenetrable performance in defence provided the platform for a win which puts Saracens in the European final for a third successive season. In a tight first half, the visitors absorbed sustained pressure from Munster, and more of the same in the second half saw the "hosts" struggle to get over the gain line, whilst typically clinical finishing assured a comfortable Sarries win.