First weekend of Aviva Premiership fixtures announced

Premiership rugby today released the fixture list for the 2017/18 season. The first weekend is set to be a tantalising one with several big games.

Gloucester vs Exeter (Friday 1st September)

Newcastle vs Worcester (Friday 1st September)

Wasps vs Sale Sharks (Saturday 2nd September)

Leicester Tigers vs Bath (Sunday 3rd September)

Saracens vs Northampton (Saturday 2nd September)

Harlequins vs London Irish (Saturday 2nd September)

The Leicester Tigers vs Bath match is arguably the biggest fixture of the weekend with particular interest being paid to the fly-half’s of both sides. Freddie Burns moved to Bath at the end of last season from Leicester, with George Ford going in the opposite direction.

Lions were Lucky to beat New Zealand

As the Full-time whistle was blown in Wellington last Saturday morning (UK Time) history was made. The All Blacks’ 47 game, 8 year unbeaten run at home was brought to an end by the British and Irish Lions, the score 24-21.

The Lions’ corner was assisted early in the first half as Sonny Bill Williams was sent off for a dangerous tackle on Anthony Watson. This is what makes the Lions’ win less impressive, a three point victory against a team with 14 men is poor, though, it does exemplify the All Blacks’ class.

What made it worse was Mako Vunipola’s Yellow card in the second half for yet another Dangerous tackle. The All Blacks’ can feel hard done by with this.

When reviewing a dangerous tackle in a game the Referee and TMO will look at the following criteria:

  • Where is the initial contact?
  • Is contact made with force?
  • Is the player in control?

In Mako’s case the initial contact was with the head, it was at force and was not in control. The referee overruled the TMO’s recommendation of a red card and gave Mako a Yellow card- a big let off for the lions.

On Saturday the Third and Final test match is played. The only previous time that New Zealand have lost a test series was to South Africa in 1937. So it is fair to say that New Zealand will go into Saturday’s decider as firm favourites and are likely to send the Lions packing licking their wounds.

 

 

 

2017 British and Irish Lions official squad

Forwards:

Rory Best (Ireland)

Dan Cole (England)

Taulupe Faletau (Wales)

Tadhg Furlong (Ireland)

Jamie George (England)

Iain Henderson (Ireland)

Maro Itoje (England)

Alun Wyn Jones (Wales)

George Kruis (England)

Courtney Lawes (England)

Joe Marler (England)

Jack McGrath (Ireland)

Ross Moriarty (Wales)

Sean O’Brien (Ireland)

Peter O’Mahony (Ireland)

Ken Owens (Wales)

Kyle Sinckler (England)

CJ Stander (Ireland)

Justin Tipuric (Wales)

Billy Vunipola (England)

Mako Vunipola (England)

Sam Warburton (Wales)

Backs:

Dan Biggar (Wales)

Elliot Daly (England),

Jonathan Davies (Wales),

Owen Farrell (England),

Leigh Halfpenny (Wales),

Robbie Henshaw (Ireland)

Stuart Hogg (Scotland)

Jonathan Joseph (England)

Conor Murray (Ireland)

George North (Wales)

Jack Nowell (England)

Jared Payne (Ireland)

Jonathan Sexton (Ireland)

Tommy Seymour (Scotland)

Ben Te’o (England)

Anthony Watson (England)

Rhys Webb (Wales)

Liam Williams (Wales)

Ben Youngs (England)

Captain: Sam Warburton

My England squad to tour Argentina

Loosehead: Genge, A Waller, E Waller

Hooker: Thacker, Youngs, Hartley

Tighthead: Hill, Collier, D Wilson

Locks: Kitchener, Barrow, Parling, Attwood, Day

Loose forwards: M.Williams, Robshaw, W.Evans, Waldrom, Hughes, Harrison

Scrum Half: Robson, Wigglesworth, Care

Fly Half: F.Burns, Slade

Wingers: Rokoduguni, Woodburn, Haley, May, Solomona

Centres: Mallinder, Teo, Burrell, Purdy, Devoto

Full Back: Brown, Goode, Foden

 

My 37 man Lions squad

Loosehead: Marler, M.Vunipola, McGrath

Hooker: Best, George, Owens

Tighthead: Cole, Furlong, Sinkler

Locks: J Gray, Launchbury, Kruis, Lawes, AW Jones

Loose forwards: Falatau, Haskell, Stander, B.Vunipola, Itoje, Warburton, Barclay

Scrum Half: Youngs, Murray, Webb

Fly Half: Ford, Sexton

Wingers:  Daly, North, Seymour, Nowell, Watson

Centres: Joseph, Farrell, Henshaw, Davies

Full Back: L.Williams, Hogg
Reserves: O Mahony, Visser, Teo, Roberts

The Clash preview: Bath vs Tigers

Saturday kicks of with ‘The Clash’, the first home match which Bath have held at Twickenham.

It is a massive game for both sides, in particular Bath who relinquished their top 4 place two weeks ago when they lost to Sarries and Tigers beat Saints.

It is also a big occasion for both starting fly-halves who will swap shirts next season, Ford to Tigers and Burns to Bath. It is sure to be a highly competitive area in this match with both teams expected to play expansive attacking rugby, the fly-halves will be essential.

This is a must win game for Bath as they have the harder run-in, lose this and Tigers are favourites for that final top 4 place

Bath: Watson; Rokoduguni, Joseph, Tapuai, Banahan; Ford (co-capt), Fotuali’i; Catt, Batty, Palma-Newport, Ewels, Stooke, Ellis, Louw (co-capt), Faletau

Replacements: Brooker, Obano, Knight, Denton, Mercer, Cook, Priestland, Homer.

Leicester: Veainu; Thompstone, Tait, Mermoz, Pietersen; Burns, B Youngs; Genge, T Youngs (c), Cole, Barrow, Kitchener, Fitzgerald, O’Connor, Hamilton

Replacements: McGuigan, Rizzo, Balmain, Williams, Thacker, White, Williams, Roberts.

Referee: J P Doyle

Prediction- Tigers win

Champions Cup Quarter Finals are upon us!

The Champions cup is down to the last eight with the teams fighting it out for a place in the Semi-finals this weekend.

There are two Matches on Saturday starting with Leinster vs Wasps at 15:15. This match is shown live on BTSport 2. This match is expected to be a tight one, which is more than can be said for last years fixtures in which Wasps thrashed Leinster both times.

Prediction: Leinster win

The second match on Saturday is Munster vs Stade Toulousain at 17:45. This is a match between two Giants of European rugby. Expect this to be another close one but with Munster on home turf it will be hard for the French visitors to come away with the victory.

Prediction: Munster win

The other two games are on Sunday. The first of these is between Saracens and Glasgow at 13:00. Both teams have been on fire this season, however, both have benefitted from their artificial pitches. This weekend though neither team has that advantage as they are both used to these pitches. I expect this to be a high scoring, high intensity affair, a game great for the Neutral.

Prediction: Glasgow win

The final game of the weekend is between Clermont and Toulon at 15:15 (UK time) live on BTSport 2. This will be another crunch clash between two sides who meet each other in the Top 14.

Prediction: Clermont win