After a packed weekend of Rugby action there was a lot to reflect on. From bizarre tries to Pacific Islanders proving their salt. After the fallout of the weekend starts to fizzle out now is the ideal opportunity to look at what we can really take from this weekend.
The All Blacks can be out smarted
For some time now the New Zealand defence has appeared almost impregnable, most of their tries conceded coming from a break away winger or somehow spotting the smallest of gaps. However, this weekend Wales found a way of outsmarting the All Blacks and catching them flat footed with a rather ingenious albeit a high risk set-piece.
In the 57th minute the All Blacks were leading 33-0 and Wales hadn’t really looked like breaking the impressive defence of the All Blacks. However, Wales were then awarded a penalty which Rhys Priestland opted to kick for touch and at the subsequent lineout they committed all fifteen men. Had the lineout been stolen by New Zealand they would have been on for a walk in try.
Thankfully for Wales they claimed their lineout and threw every man into the maul and bulldozed their way over the try line. The All Blacks were stunned and had no chance of stopping the determined Wales team.
The lesson is with a bit of ingenuity and the whole team pulling together you can break the formidable All Blacks defence.
Pacific Islands on the rise
After Samoa beat Wales a little under a fortnight ago some were putting it down to the Welsh not being at their best, this may be true but you can’t ignore that the Samoans played well and fought and earned their win and didn’t just do it with strength but the also had a touch of finesse.
This weekend saw the Samoans put up a strong fight against an improving French team only losing by eight points in the end.
The big story was Tonga running Italy close in their first match before stepping up against Scotland and taking a famous win which helped them leapfrog Scotland in the IRB world rankings. If the Pacific Island teams continue to improve at this rate they may be worth watching for an upset or two when it comes round to World cup time.
The big boys in the Aviva Premiership are beatable
Despite all of the International absentees the big teams of the Aviva Premiership still tend to grind out wins. However, three of the more consistent performing teams lost this weekend which has blown the race for the play-offs wide open.
Bath managed to beat reigning champions and current league leaders Harlequins 21-18 at The Rec. This brings Harlequins total losses this season up to three, which is a third of their games this season.
Saracens lost 12-3 to Worcester Warriors at Sixways in a game where not a single point was scored in the second half. Saracens, previous champions themselves and consistently in the play-offs over the last five years have lost twice this season and picked up one draw and have struggled to take bonus points from their wins this season and currently sit in 2nd place sharing the same points as Gloucester in 3rd.
Leicester Tigers also lost this weekend to a spirited London Wasps side in a game that ended 14-12 at Adams Park, the weekends results saw Leicester Tigers drop to 5th place in the league having only won five of their nine games so far this season and only two points ahead of Exeter Chiefs and Bath who sit in sixth and seventh.
Next weekend sees Saracens face off against Gloucester who will be keen to leapfrog them in the lead. Leicester Tigers welcome Bath to Welford Road and Harlequins host Worcester Warriors to the Stoop.
With just six points seperating 1st place down to 8th place the margin for error this season is smaller than ever.