Bath Rugby Analysis – those 13 changes at Saracens, strength in contact, not much kicking for once

Bath Rugby Analysis - those 13 changes at Saracens, strength in contact, not much kicking for once

Rugby union: talking points from the Premierships weekend action

The high-scoring extravaganzas should be enjoyed while they last but it seems nobody will get anywhere near the top two

It is hard to argue with Alan Solomons when he says the Premiership is already a two-horse race between Exeter and Saracens. Both have 100% records and it is hard to see either losing theirs at home, particularly if teams are going to make as many changes as Bath did at Saracens on Saturday. Exeter meanwhile, overcame Solomonss Worcester with room to spare at Sandy Park and look on course for a Twickenham rematch with Saracens at the seasons end. The 10 places below them may be harder to predict than ever, which is key part of the reason the Premiership has witnessed so many thrilling contests recently. At the top, though, there is an air of predictability to proceedings. Gerard Meagher

Head of sport Daniel Evans picks out some of the talking points swirling around the club after the defeat to Saracens

Gallagher Premiership team of the weekend: Who shone in round five?

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Exeter will be tough to stop this season. Photograph: Robbie Stephenson/JMP/Rex Shutterstock 3) Harlequins newfound backbone faces acid test Harlequins moved up to fourth after their away win against a Gloucester side who would have frustrated the Shed, so prescriptive was their play. Quins next fixture is at home against Saracens on Saturday night. The champions have spent the past two weekends sending opponents who started the round in fourth place, Gloucester and Bath, scuttling down the table and Quins, never mind their first away league win for a year, are in similarly fickle form. But they have won their past three home league fixtures against Saracens and are developing some backbone. Paul Rees

Read more After a poor, nervy contest much of the post-match discussion revolved around two players who were not involved. Sale have revealed their South African scrum-half Faf de Klerk will be available to the club throughout the autumn international period, with an agreement having been reached with the Boks for the No 9 to remain in the southern hemisphere during the spare weeks in the Rugby Championship. With their game against England also falling outside the official Test window, Premiership Rugby regulations are also set to sideline other English-based Boks such as Willie Le Roux and Francois Louw for the Twickenham date. Leicester, meanwhile, might not risk recalling Manu Tuilagi for the game against Northampton this weekend. Tuilagis hamstring ruled him out of England training last week – There wasnt really much point in him getting in the car with a tight hamstring to go down and stand around on the sidelines, said Geordan Murphy – and a return against the Saints is not yet certain. Its a question of whether or not hes ready to roll next weekend, whether or not we need to use him or whether we rest him for another week, Murphy said. Robert Kitson

Three home defeats from three is a run of form that would ordinarily be of concern for Newcastle until you consider their opponents have been the Premierships top three sides from last season. The defeat by Wasps on Friday will have hurt most, having been ahead with 10 minutes to go but the Falcons still have plenty about which to be optimistic. Sinoti Sinoti was at his mesmeric best against Wasps and Johnny Williams at inside-centre is further demonstration of Dean Richardss canny recruitment. They have already won once on the road this season and their ability to do so last term was a fundamental part of their run to the semi-finals. On Saturday they go to Sale. Gerard Meagher

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Adam Brocklebank and Tevita Cavubati get to grips with Wasps Ashley Johnson. Photograph: George Ledger/Frozen in Motion/Rex Shutterstock 6) Baths white flag puts global calendar back in spotlight Todd Blackadder made 13 changes for the trip to Saracens and tasked his side with trying to come away with a losing bonus point. He argued his point by saying that otherwise well just end up playing our best team every single week and well end up breaking guys. The Rugby Football Union, Premiership Rugby and the Rugby Players Association will soon announce the finer details of how the domestic season will fit around the global calendar from 2020 onwards. Perhaps that will give a clue as to whether Blackadders approach to this game becomes a trend. Gerard Meagher

A third successive Rugby Championship for New Zealand with room to spare but the Pumas produced one of the more infuriating performances in recent memory. Their scrum – once the bedrock of Argentinian rugby – was marmalised and they coughed up the ball on their lineout five times. If they can get their set-piece firing though, they will be a World Cup force to be reckoned with.

The Connacht prop Dominic Robertson-McCoy is facing a lengthy ban for a horrible stamp to the head of Leinsters Josh van der Flier. It earned him a red card as well as widespread condemnation following Leinsters 20-3 victory and the Connacht coach Andy Friend at least acknowledged: That wasnt good and Dom is really disappointed with himself. That may be so but the authorities must send a strong message with a firm sanction.

Huge credit must go to Nigel Owens for his intervention when Benettons Engjel Makelara tried to return to the field after it emerged his head injury assessment had not been carried out properly. Makelara attempted to come back on against Edinburgh seven minutes after initially going off but Owens questioned his return with medics from the Italian side. Makelara was then immediately withdrawn again after it came to light there was a technological issue with conducting the HIA. 

Pushing hard, surely, for some overdue England recognition. Goode impressed playing at fly-half recently against Northampton but he was majestic at full-back on Saturday, making over 200 metres with ball in hand and beating nine defenders. Scored a try and set up three more.

A second hat-trick of the season for Williams, after his treble against Bristol in Round Two, to take him to the top of the leagues try scoring charts tied with Charlie Sharples. Lovely…

Bath at web:


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