It’s back! Saints and Sinners took a break during the World Cup, but we are back in business now, so welcome to the first weekly round-up of the champs and chumps from the weekend’s Aviva Premiership and Guinness Pro12 matches, and beyond.

The Saints

Boot-iful work
Elliot Daly reminded everyone what a fine player he is with a display of terrific goal-kicking and some decent contributions in open play too, as Wasps beat Gloucester 23-3 in the Aviva Premiership clash at the Ricoh Arena.

Ten minutes into the game, Daly landed a 56-metre penalty for a 3-0 lead, then another of the same distance to make it 13-0 and a kicked third from just inside the Gloucester half to take the lead out to 16-0 after 33 minutes. Rainy conditions made his achievement all the more remarkable, because it meant the ground under his feet was slippery, but he hit those three kicks strong and true. Gloucester fans will want it noted that the first two penalties against them were extremely harsh, but no one can argue with Daly’s skill in kicking them. He also played a part in a superb running move which set up what was probably the try of the weekend, scored by Christian Wade.

 

Points machine: Rhys Patchell had his kicking boots on for Cardiff Blues. (Photo: Huw Evans Agency)

Points machine: Rhys Patchell had his kicking boots on for Cardiff Blues. (Photo: Huw Evans Agency)

Tens on target
On a weekend dominated by kicks more than tries, Cardiff Blues fly-half Rhys Patchell certainly did his bit to try to engineer a Guinness Pro12 win over Glasgow Warriors, but his team fell short, losing 35-30.

Patchell kicked six penalties and, as if that wasn’t enough, made a try-saving tackle on Finn Russell, showing a great turn of pace to chase him back and hauling him down a few metres short.

Exeter Chiefs’ No 10 Gareth Steenson scored all of his team’s points in a 19-6 Premiership win over Leicester. He ran in a try in the sixth minute, converted it and added four penalties.

Meanwhile, in Dublin, outside-half Ian Madigan amassed 14 points, kicking four penalties and a conversion as Leinster ended Scarlets’ 100% start to the season, beating them 19-15 at the RDS Arena.

 

Grove in the groove
Two tries from former Scotland centre Alex Grove helped Worcester Warriors to a 28-20 win over Newcastle Falcons. Grove crossed twice in the first half as the Premiership newcomers amassed a 28-17 lead before half-time, and secured a four-try bonus point.

Plaudits also go to Sale SharksSam James who capitalised on some great work from Danny Cipriani and used his strength to touch down under great pressure from Harlequins in Friday evenings’ match. His score took the Sharks to within striking distance of their visitors, but Harlequins ended up 16-14 winners.

 

Back to his roots: Nigel Owens in action at Gowerton v Crymych. (Photo: Huw Evans Agency)

Back to his roots: Nigel Owens in action at Gowerton v Crymych. (Photo: Huw Evans Agency)

There’s only one Owens
A week after referee Nigel Owens was laying down the law to Richie McCaw and Stephen Moore during the World Cup final at Twickenham, he was wielding his whistle in very different circumstances at the Swalec League One West match between Gowerton and Crymych. Presumably his bosses at the Welsh Rugby Union wanted to make sure his feet were still on the ground, and rather than taking umbrage at the appointment and withdrawing with a tweaked calf muscle, Owens showed his customary good humour on Twitter.

“Is the roof shut for Gowerton v Crymych today? I need to know what hair wax to put on you see ha #grassrootsrugby” he tweeted on Saturday morning.

Gowerton welcomed treble their usual crowd, as the locals turned out to see Owens in action, and the home side won 28-18. Owens took to Twitter again on Sunday to say: “Gowerton v Crymych were a credit to grass roots rugby yesterday. Great game. Well done both teams a pleasure to ref”. What a legend.

 

The Sinners

Three in the red
A trio of Aviva Premiership players were shown red cards at the weekend. First to go was London Irish scrum-half Brendan McKibbin who needlessly stamped on Bath prop Henry Thomas in the 20th minute of their match. Irish were driving towards the Bath try-line and McKibbin jumped over Thomas in one direction, but then stepped back across him again and clearly planted his boot on the prop’s shoulder area. The Exiles were 10-0 down at the time and ended up losing 45-14.

Early bath: David Halaifonua of Gloucester heads for the dressing room after being sent off by Ian Tempest. (Photo: Getty Images)

Early bath: David Halaifonua (pink boots) of Gloucester heads for the dressing room. (Getty Images)

Two more red cards were shown in Sunday’s Wasps v Gloucester match. First to go was Gloucester wing David Halaifonua, dismissed for a high tackle on Bradley Davies in the 45th minute. The hit was also a little late and as Gloucester were 16-0 down at the time, to go a man down was the last thing they needed.

They went on to lose 23-3, with Wasps’ tighthead Lorenzo Cittadini being dismissed by referee Ian Tempest with seven minutes to go after stupidly throwing two punches at Billy Twelvetrees when he and the centre were contesting the ball on the floor after a tackle. Twelvetrees actually tried to say he felt a red card was too harsh a punishment, while Cittadini compounded his mistake by arguing as he left the pitch.

 

Hits and misses
New Harlequins wing Tim Visser experienced the highs and lows of Premiership rugby on his home debut. During the first half of Quins’ clash with Sale Sharks the Scotland wing dropped a high ball from Danny Cipriani and thereby let Dan Braid in for a try.

However, he made amends, helping Quins to win the match 16-14 by crossing the whitewash to score his first try for the west London club. He Tweeted afterwards: “Relieved to get my first try on home debut after missing that high ball in the first half #COYQ”

Making amends: Tim Visser dives over for his first try for Harlequins. (Photo by Getty Images)

Making amends: Tim Visser dives over for his first try for Harlequins. (Photo by Getty Images)

 

Chances go begging
As the season progresses, plenty of players will feature in this column for missing potentially match-winning place kicks and the first to fit that bill is Sale’s Danny Cipriani. He showed plenty of good touches during their battle with Harlequins but missed a kickable penalty in the 71st minute and scuffed a last-ditch drop-goal attempt. If either kick had found the target, like Cipriani’s two conversions had earlier in the game, Sale might have won. Instead it was Quins who took the four points.

 

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