Print editor, Harry Wilkinson, was at Villa Park on Sunday where the second city derby took placeWritten by Harry Wilkinson on 24th April 2017
Aviva Premiership Round-Up: Week 12
A new leader and the relegation battle at the bottom of the Aviva Premiership is heating up, Sam Harrison reviews the results from the weekend
The twelfth round of matches in the Aviva Premiership brought with it some changes, mostly to the table.
A bonus point win over Newcastle leaves Wasps in sole possession of first place in the table, one point ahead of Saracens. The better news for Wasps is that they will only get stronger, as James Haskell returns from injury and Willie Le Roux joins in the very near future.
The Champions are second, but they had to really earn their win this week, marginally beating Leicester away from home to keep a seven-point lead over the rest of the competition. Owen Farrell was excellent in this fixture, showing why he is arguably the best fly-half in the world.
The Chiefs have overcome their early season shortcomings to return to form and take back a spot in the top four. Round twelve saw Exeter claim the scalp of another top four rival; this week Bath were the victims.
In losing to Exeter at home, Bath dropped to fourth in the table. They will get be getting a boost soon, however, as Anthony Watson is scheduled to return from injury. Despite the second consecutive loss, Bath are still five points ahead of Leicester, who sit in fifth.
It seems as though the home defeat at the hands of Saracens was the final straw for the Tigers decision makers, as they relieved Director of Rugby Richard Cockerill of his duties hours afterwards. It is unfortunate for a man who has been with the club for over twenty years, but it was been a long time coming, as Leicester’s rivals have all improved while the Tigers have stagnated.
The Saints ground out a win against Gloucester to keep in the top half of the table. The fact this is how many of their victories are achieved these days shows the fall the club has experienced, despite signing George North a few years ago.
Harlequins are barely getting by this season, having been unable to string together many successive wins, and this week they lost to Worcester. It will get harder for them, too, as they deal with England call-ups in the coming couple of months.
It has been a rough couple of weeks for the Falcons, who have faced Saracens and Wasps, the two best teams in the league, in consecutive weeks. They are still only eighth in the table, and at this stage have a very realistic chance of playing in the Champions Cup next season.
Gloucester have endured a tough season, and they did not get their 2017 off to a great start, as they were unable to see off Northampton, despite having a 9-0 half-time lead and playing at home.
For all the talk of a possible move to sign George Ford, very little is being mentioned about the fact that the Sharks poor performances this season may turn him off the idea of moving there, especially given that they are unlikely to feature in the Champions Cup next season.
The Warriors bounced back from a defeat by Bristol to become the team winning an upset, as they beat Harlequins 24-17, and even led 16-0 at the interval. Worcester may be getting better this season.
Since they moved on from Andy Robinson, Bristol have gone on a four-game win streak in all competitions, and this week they won a thriller against Sale as they scored a try at the death to steal the win away from home. If they are going back down, they are not doing so without a fight.