It’s time for our wrap of who has their name in lights and who is making the headlines for the wrong reasons.
They’re on fire!!
Bristol and Worcester: Big, big wins for the Premiership’s two strugglers to add a twist in this season’s relegation battle. Bristol couldn’t buy a win through the first ten rounds of the season and now they have two, Max Crumpton and Jason Woodward earning the beers this week after that late converted try sealed a stunning win over Sale Sharks.
Worcester matched Bristol, therefore staying off the bottom as a result, thanks to their home win over Harlequins which was well earned after marching out to a 24-7 lead before holding on. Interestingly, the results also pull Sale back into a little danger at seven points adrift.
Toulouse: We asked for a performance and Toulouse certainly delivered. Don’t be fooled by the 26-20 scoreline, Clermont’s late penalty try was merely window dressing. Good signs for Ugo Mola with three backs – Yoann Huget, Arthur Bonneval, Gaël Fickou – all crossing for tries. Now they sit one point outside the top four.
Mathieu Bastareaud: Who doesn’t love a bit of vintage Bastareaud pummeling his way through defenders? Magnifique.
basta a distribué les bouchons pic.twitter.com/uOoJjgepkj
— Philippe (@philousports) 1 January 2017
Munster: Even with Connacht’s injuries, heading to the Sportsground was still a tricky assignment for Munster and one they emerged out of with four points in the bag, finishing 2016 on top of the PRO12 as a result. Rhys Marshall, the recent signing from the Chiefs, was their try scorer.
Exeter Chiefs: No sophomore slump after last season’s run to the Premiership final – Exeter have got themselves together and produced a run of wins that now includes the New Year’s Eve triumph away to Bath. That seventh win of the season takes them to third in the table, and it took a comeback that Rob Baxter was unsurprisingly proud of. James Short’s double stunned The Rec.
Newcastle: No victory over Wasps, going down 30-34, but from a style perspective the Falcons are becoming a team we want to watch, which hasn’t been the case for some time. Mark Wilson has been excellent in the back row, Joel Hodgson has noticeably kicked on, and the signing of Vereniki Goneva looks like one of the best of the season. Currently eighth, a top six spot is within reach.
Baby, it’s cold outside…
Dragons: A game to forget, no mistake, but the Dragons couldn’t breakthrough against the Ospreys and were eventually nilled at home. Halfway through and their season is long over, again, which makes it worth questioning where exactly the region are headed in the long-term. Those supporters still left at Rodney Parade deserve better.
Grenoble: Away defeats in the Top 14 are not uncommon of course, but 40-3? That takes away all the momentum from their win the previous week over Toulouse and leaves Grenoble ten points adrift. When you’re in that position, those kind of defeats cannot happen.
Gloucester: Narrow losses piling up for the Cherry and Whites after Northampton’s penalty try left Gloucester with a league record of three wins from 12 so far. Failure to convert tight margins into wins isn’t exactly going to impress soon-to-be new owner Mohad Altrad. Next week’s home game against Worcester is a must-win.