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 14
Rugby correspondent, Sam Harrison, reviews the teams and results from week 14 as the Aviva Premiership returned
After a four-week break, the Aviva Premiership returned, though it played second-fiddle in the rugby world to the Six Nations.
Despite only managing a draw away at Exeter, Wasps still extended their lead at the top of the table, thanks in part to the try bonus point they picked up. During the Six Nations, Wasps should thrive, having only lost three key players to the tournament, all of whom can be replaced to some extent.
The Champions suffered a major setback in their attempt to retain the title, having lost to Worcester. Injuries and the international schedule are hurting the North London outfit, as they keep having to field different combinations of players.
With Saracens having lost, the draw with Wasps brings the Chiefs within five points of second place, and they could get a home semi-final. But before that, they will have to find a way to score points without their talisman, Jack Nowell, who is on international duty.
This may well be the last roll of the dice for Bath, as they are set to lose George Ford to Leicester next season. While Freddie Burns is a decent replacement, Ford provides the best chance to win, though they will have to beat some much better teams if they are to lift the trophy, though a narrow win against Northampton proves they can win the tight games.
A big win against Gloucester may be just what Leicester needed to kick into gear and salvage their season, but even with the maximum points they are five points adrift of Bath in fourth. The Tigers may just have to wait until next season to return to the top of English rugby.
Harlequins are another side suffering due to the international games, but in some ways they might actually be grateful. The absence of Mike Brown allows the much more in-form Ross Chisholm to start, and he was one of the scorers as they thrashed Bristol 42-8.
Northampton’s season is essentially over. Losing to Bath keeps them nine points behind the fourth placed side, which is too much ground to make up in eight games.
Though they lost to Sale, Newcastle are still eighth in the table, and could well make their way into the Champions Cup places, if some things go their way. A hat-trick for Vereniki Goneva earns them the second bonus point, keeping them above Gloucester.
The Cherry and Whites were embarrassed by an out-of-form Leicester side, and that pretty much tells the tale for Gloucester at the moment. There is just not enough quality in the team to compete this season.
In beating Newcastle, Sale held off the sharks and extended the distance between themselves and the bottom two. This has been a reset season for them, and they will just try to stay up so they can mount a better challenge next season.
Worcester produced the shock of the weekend, beating Saracens. And they did that without their best player, as Ben Te’o is with England. It was a well-deserved win, and a crucial one that builds a gap between them and Bristol, who are now five points adrift.
A mid-season resurgence doesn’t appear to be enough for the newcomers. They won all their games around Christmas, but have returned to losing ways since, and are now looking more likely to go down.