By Katie Field
He kicked 17 of his side’s points in their 22-19 away victory at Cardiff Blues and was Man-of-the-Match – yes, the Ospreys outside-half Dan Biggar had a Christmas cracker of an evening on Friday.
Justin Tipuric’s try helped the Ospreys move up the RaboDirect Pro 12 table into fourth spot, just one point behind Leinster.
Remarkably, Biggar has not missed a single kick at goal since September. In the ensuing three months he has hit the target 33 times for the Ospreys and twice for Wales, so it’s not only Cardiff who’ve been suffering from the Biggar Blues.
Better late than never
On a weekend of largely low-scoring matches, the stage was set for some last-minute heroics and Stephen Myler and Ronan O’Mahony duly obliged.
Myler struck a penalty with the last kick of the game against London Wasps at Adams Park, to steal a 17-15 win for the Saints and allow them to maintain second in the Aviva Premiership table .
“We had not beaten them for four seasons so with 30 seconds to go we thought we had done enough,” said disappointed Wasps director of rugby Dai Young.
Later on Saturday, Munster were bidding to go into Christmas on a high by beating the Scarlets in Cork, but they were trailing 10-9 in the closing seconds of the match. The mid-table Welsh side must have thought they had an unlikely win over the league leaders sewn up, but they also had two players in the sin-bin and Munster created a try for O’Mahony with the final play of the game to steal the win – just as they had in the Heineken Cup last week.
Edinburgh made it five wins from their last seven in all competitions when they defeated Leinster 11-6 at Murrayfield on Friday. They hadn’t beaten the Irish giants since 24 September 2010 and started this season with four losses from their first five RaboDirect Pro 12 games, but a try from wing Dougie Fife and two penalties from Greig Laidlaw were enough to defeat the defending champions.
Laidlaw was impressive throughout, cutting through the Leinster defence several times, but Edinburgh flanker Cornell Du Preez was the Man of the Match.
Leicester suffered their biggest Premiership defeat of all time, going down 49-10 to Saracens at Allianz Park. There was no Christmas spirit in evidence from Saracens as they ruthlessly took Leicester apart up front and capitalised on their dominance with six tries, including two for Chris Ashton, one each for Jack Wilson, Billy Vunipola and Jackson Wray and a penalty try.
Leicester boss Richard Cockerill was critical of some of the officiating, particularly the sin-binning of Graham Kitchener – Saracens scored 15 points while he was off the pitch. However, Cockerill did admit: “Saracens played very well, they deserved to win and their power was the key for them and we couldn’t cope with it. We weren’t good enough.”
Horribly wet and windy weather across much of the British Isles made it extremely difficult for the players to turn on the style this weekend. Excluding the points fest that was Saracens v Leicester, a total of just five tries were scored in the remaining five Aviva Premiership games while in the RaboDirect Pro 12 there were eight tries across the five games.
Worst of all, the rain meant Glasgow Warriors’ clash with Benetton Treviso had to be postponed as the Scotstoun pitch was waterlogged. Ah well, at least it didn’t snow!
Ten out of ten
Worcester Warriors looked a Christmas gift-horse in the mouth as they allowed Gloucester to stutter their way to a 12-6 victory at Kingsholm. It meant the Warriors have lost their first ten Aviva Premiership matches and will need some kind of miracle to climb out of the relegation spot in 2014.
Trailing only 9-6 with half an hour to go, Worcester made things tough for themselves when they lost Richard de Carpentier to the sin-bin. Paul Warwick came within a whisker of scoring a winning try for them, but Henry Trinder stopped him inches short, and the visitors were unable to capitalise on a one-man advantage for the last few minutes after Jonny May was shown a yellow card.
The Warriors knew the match against the out-of-sorts Gloucester side presented them with a good chance of breaking their Premiership duck, but they still fell short. However, director of rugby Dean Ryan remains upbeat, saying: “I’m looking forward to the New Year because we’re a different side to what we were eight or nine weeks ago – by a long way. We are a pretty strong group now and we’re looking forward to seeing what comes round the corner.
“I’m proud of the effort today. We are getting better, irrespective of who we play.”
To watch the weekend’s Aviva Premiership highlights, follow this link