Well it's back to something approaching normality for a short time. This week Premiership games and the fight for the top places in the league was on the agenda. You may have been forgiven for thinking that now that the World Cup is over rugby would experience a lull, as the returning players for the most part, recovered from their success and watched from the benches. If you think that, you certainly did not see some of the weekend games. Now I know I am somewhat prejudiced with regard to Wasps but their game against Newcastle Falcons was beyond excellence. It was like watching the Final of the World Cup all over again. I was reduced to my knees on the living room carpet; such was the tension in the final moments of the game. Let me give you a flavour of some of the games. Hold onto your hat - it was a bumpy ride!
Saracens 29 - Rotherham 10
Newcomers to the Premiership this season Rotherham have settled at the bottom without having gained one single point. Sunday against Saracens was no different. A try for Thomas Castaignede in the first minute of the game gave Saracens a good start. Another three minutes later from Cech this time converted took their lead to 12 - 0. Yet another in the 21st minute made it difficult for Rotherham from then on in. Courageously they got their game together and 7 minutes later Geraint Lewis scored their own try to which Jon Benson added the conversion. Half Time scores stood at 19 - 7. Penalties on both sided nudged the score forward to 22 - 10. Richard Hill returning from Australia scored the fourth try for Saracens securing the bonus point. Rotherham were left behind unable, after 11 games, to capture that first point of the season. Although their play looked improved something needs to happen if they are not to slip out of the Premiership after such a short stay.
Stop Press: Rotherham announced South African Stef Nel appointed as new Head Coach.
Leicester Tigers 12 - Bath 13
Five returning Tigers were put straight to work for their club on Saturday to try and bring the team back into contention with their opponents who, after 10 games, were 21 points ahead. Sitting on the bench was England and Leicester Captain Martin Johnson with two other seasoned returnees Neil Back and Dorian West. The first part of the game was dominated by Leicester, during which they scored from two penalties. Baths' Martyn Wood was then shown the red card for stamping, and Mike Catt limped off to be replaced by Mike Tindall. After these incidents Bath struck out and scored a converted try to bring them back into contention. A penalty just on half time took them in front. Just after half time the Leicester England heroes on the bench were brought on to try and force a win. Two late penalties put the Tigers back in front but with just four minutes to go Bath scored from a penalty and the match was won. Leicester recorded their sixth game lost this season having been unable to capitalise on their extra man for a good part of the match.
Stop Press: Martyn Wood has been requested to appear before the RFU disciplinary panel for the red card incident.
Newcastle Falcons 20 London Wasps 23
You could be forgiven for thinking that you were watching the continuing saga of the World Cup Final, if you watched this game! Nail biting tension, brilliant defence and terrible weather. The game started with Jonny Wilkinson and Lawrence Dallaglio parading the World Cup around a full capacity ground. Neither played in this match although you have to suspect that as tired as they must be they would have given anything to be on the pitch during this excellent rugby exhibition. The wind blew as it can only in the North East! Wasps started with the wind behind them and knew that if they were to have a chance at winning the game they had to rack up a score in the first half - and they did! Two tries from Logan and Voyce in the first twenty minutes made their mark. Due to the wind the conversions were missed but Van Gisbergen managed to score a penalty straight after taking the score to 13 - 0. Ben Gollings wearing Jonny's number 10 then scored Falcons first try which Walder deftly converted despite the antics of the wind. Wasps scored a second penalty taking them to 16 - 7 at half time.
The wind against them Wasps then proceeded to make life difficult for themselves. Another try for Logan was submitted to the video referee and it became obvious that it had just missed the touchdown. Despite the wind Newcastle managed to score from two penalties and a try from Tom May that Walder converted taking them into the lead for the first time. Wasps then began to put pressure on the Falcons and with just two minutes to go were rewarded with a try from Richards. With the pressure really on Van Gisbergen defeated the blustery conditions and made his first conversion of the game. Pheeeeeeeeew! That was close! Falcons, although losing the game, were rewarded with a bonus point which you have to say was well deserved for a very close cleanly fought game.
London Irish 9 - Sale Sharks 3
One thing was for sure this was not a pretty game. Yellow cards were in abundance like 'yellow ribbons round the old oak tree'! All the scores were from penalties and all bar one scored in the first half of the game. Both London Irish props were sin binned within two minutes of each other just before half time. The game was bad tempered but at the end of it, London Irish had fought their way into third place in the League.
Zurich Premiership Team Standings