Another busy weekend with rugby on both days. Early mornings to catch the World cup quarterfinals and late night to watch excerpts of the Premiership games. Sleep patterns are definitely being disrupted and the armchair pundits are fully occupied. Was it a foul, should he have been sin binned, are we still using the red card, do all the referees learn from the same rule books? All questions posed over the weekend. The World Cup ended with the countries left as we all predicted, but let no one say it was easy! Here is a brief synopsis of who made the semis.
World Cup Quarter Finals
New Zealand 29 - South Africa 9
Of all the quarterfinals this one started and finished as expected with the All Blacks dominating the game from kick-off. They held the ball for virtually all of the first half and even managed some gymnastics during the game when Carlos Spencer flicked the ball back between his legs to Joe Rokocoko, who collected and scored their third try. Game over and look forward to the All Blacks against the Aussies next week!
Australia 33 - Scotland 16
One thing was for sure; the referee did not do Scotland any favours! The game started with Scotland being the underdogs and, given some of their recent performances, they were definitely un-fancied. It must have been the porridge oats or perhaps they had nothing to lose, but they started play in a ferocious mood. Their defence was superb and they kept the Aussies at bay as they tried to push for the score. They endured blocks, checks, obstructions and finally a blatant punch from Wendell Sailor connected with Nathan Hines. Was Australia punished for these infringements? Did referee Steve Walsh (he was suspended earlier in the tournament for inappropriate behaviour in the England/Samoa game) award penalties to Scotland for them, well no, he didn't!! What he did do was stop the game when the punch was thrown, just as the ball was about to be passed to Kenny Logan out on the wing thereby stopping what was almost definitely going to be their first try! No penalty to Scotland and no red card for Sailor! Well done ref! At half time the scores were level at 9 - 9. After this incident in the second half Australia scored their first try and ran away with the score. Scotland managed a drop goal but the game was lost! Something should be done about referees who are inconsistent and cost teams the match!
France 43 - Ireland 21
Tired after their game the previous week with Australia, Ireland never looked like beating the undisputed power of the French. Ireland, to be fair, kept at it but they were unable to break through the French defence and just into the second half the score was 37 - 0. Finally the Irish got through and scored a converted try which seemed to raise their spirits and their game. Ibanex was sin binned for disrupting the Irish flow and they continued to apply the pressure and frustrate the French attempts to increase their score, but it was too late for them to revive the game. A total of three converted tries was no match for the French four plus five penalties they came away with. The plane beckoned the brave Irish!
England 28 - Wales 17
Earlier in the tournament the sad demise of Welsh Rugby was noted - what demise? On Sunday the passion and the fire were back with a vengeance; England were forced to examine their game and fight for their place in the semis. The Welsh brought out a relatively young team to face their historic foes and their performance made English supporters worry for the future. It was great rugby and Wales are definitely coming back to their form of previous years. The first half saw England make mistake after mistake culminating in Ben Cohen kicking the ball across hoping it would find someone to carry it forward and finding Neil Back. No problem there you may say - well it was a problem, as Neil is possibly one of the shortest if not the shortest player on the side and no match in height or speed for Mark Jones from Wales who beat him to the take. The first half ended and one could only hope for deliverance in some shape or form. We got it, a calm, cool Catt replaced Luger and the match turned around. Jason Robinson ducked and dived in his inimitable manner to get the ball to Will Greenwood who scored a try. Wales made the tries but lost potential points with missed conversions. Johnny Wilkinson finally put us all out of our misery with a drop goal and the game ended. England lived to fight another day - the French beckon next week, ooh la la, Merci or should that be MERCY!
Leicester 32 Wasps 22
Leicester has been having a hard time with five defeats in a row, but they decided to end the run of bad luck with a win against Wasps. Why?? As a Wasps supporter I ask this question, would another defeat have mattered, five, six, what's one more? Wasps had clawed their way up the table to 3rd place but after this game dropped back to joint fifth with Sale Sharks. Leicester made mincemeat of their opponents' front row and a drop goal from Healey finished them off. Both teams are missing men but at least with Scotland's defeat Kenny Logan will be coming back for Wasps - not a moment too soon. It's Gloucester next week!
Harlequins 43 Northampton 21
Quins had a great game against the Saints with five tries to their credit. One try for Northampton in the first half did next to nothing for them against a driven Paul Burke who managed 15 points on his own. Two late tries also failed to bring them any comfort - the game was well and truly lost.
Gloucester 14 Bath 20
Bath carried on with their winning streak having lost only one game this season. Gloucester, runners up in the last season experienced their first defeat at home for 26 months. It was a hard fought match in which Baths centre Robbie Fleck broke his tibia and dislocated his ankle keeping him out of the game until March next year. Gloucester led for most of the game with Bath only gaining the lead much later in the match - a position that they managed to maintain despite some hard action from their opponents.
How to Score in Premiership Rugby
If I knew that I would probably be very sought after by all the teams, I could chose my club! No - what I really mean is how many points do you get for what! The following explanation is provided by Zurich Rugby
During the current Zurich Premiership season, points are awarded as follows:
- 4 points will be awarded for a win
- 2 points will be awarded for a draw
- 1 point will be awarded to a team that loses a match by 7 points or less
- 1 point will be awarded to a team scoring 4 tries or more in a match
- TB is try bonus for four tries or more in a match
- LB is a bonus for losing in a match by seven points or less
- Firstly by the number of games won
- Then, if they are still equal it is decided by the Points Difference
- And then, if they are still equal, it is decided by the number of Points For
Hopefully that has made everything a little clearer and explained how you can get a point for actually losing a match - but only by the right number of points!
Zurich Premiership Team Standings