Falcons statement of intent
A topsy turvy match at the Rec saw Newcastle sneak an impressive 33 - 32 victory and really announce their arrival as contenders for the top 6 at leat this season. Impressive enough that they got the away victory over a side established at the top of the table, but they did it without the likes of Sinoti Sinoti, Toby Flood and Maxime Mermoz.
Dean Richards has signed shrewedly this season and this victory was a real statement of intent. They seem to have the full package of strong forwards and fast backs and they will take more scalps this season. Top 6 is a real possibility, top 4 is not a stretch for them.
Nathan Hughes - small act of sportsmanship, huge amounts of respect
Wasps fell to defeat consecutive matches after a comprehensive loss to the Exeter Chiefs. There was some great tries for both sides, but the buzz post match was from the sportsmanship and proffesional respect shown by Nathan Hughes after he took a quick tap penalty and had a huge collision with Sam Simmonds that left the Chiefs prospect seemingly out cold on the floor, Hughes was careful to roll off of Simmonds on the floor and as soon as the ruck cleared, he kept hold of Simmonds head and alerted the referee to the injury, staying with the prone player until the medical team arrived to take over.
It's a small act of compassion but in the proffessional era, it's a big thing to literally stop playing to help a fellow player rather than push on to score points for your team. Much respect to Nathan for putting someones health as a priority.
Henry Trinder, impact substitute
Henry Trinder was a half time replacement for Gloucester and within a minute, picked up the ball deep in his own half, staepped Dave Denton and made a scintillating break up the pitch before stepping inside and making the rugby equivalent of a 1-2 with Willi Heinz and finally feeding Billy Twelvetrees with a beatiful reverse offload to score under the posts. It was one of the best tries I've seen live and one I'll not tire of re-watching.
Trinder has been blighted by injuries through the years, but when he's fit and firing on all cylinders there are very few better in the outside centre berth. Hopefully, Henry will get an injury free run now and can continue to light up the Premiership with moments like this one.
In the same match as Trinders class, we saw a scary collision between Christian Scotland-Williamson and Tom Savage that left the Gloucester man very obviously out cold on the floor, afetr a lengthy stoppage where back boards and various restraints were brought on to the pitch, it was great to see Savage leave the pitch under his own steam and be replaced by Ed Slater whilst Savage underwent an HIA....... but then......
Wayne Barnes then walked to the benches and the fourth official, and after a period of consultation, Slater was ordered off of the pitch as it was decided that Savage was not due an HIA, but had left the field injured, so in a match that was finely poised, Gloucester had to see the game out with 14 men. This is a law that will need clarity as many media and ex players and coaches were left perplexed by what had actually happened, and whereas I'm certain Mr Barnes followed the laws to the letter, this surely leaves a loophole that is very exploitable with players claiming to need an HIA to allow a replacement to take the field.
What is the answer? I wish I knew!
How close is it this season?
With 4 rounds gone, the table is taking shape, with familar faces Exeter and Saracens leading the way and Northampton (who a lot of their own fans were writing off after the opening match....) and Newcastle leading the way with 3 wins from 4, the teams between 5th and 9th, Wasps,Quins, Bath, Leicester and Gloucester all have 2 wins and 2 losses, Sale and Irish have 1 win apiece and Worcester are the only side with no wins on the board.
Over the course of this season, One side having either a purple patch or a bad run could see their stock rise or fall massively, and right now, it's looking like bonus points will be the key factor in deciding the final standings.
Player of the week - Don Armand - Chiefs - One of the most underestimated players in the league. Grabbed a try and was all over the pitch. Not a glamour player, or a guy that will grab your attention, but does the hard yards, the simple things well and goes under the radar similarly to how Richard Hill used to all those years ago.
Team of the week - Newcastle Falcons AND Match of the week - Bath 32 - Falcons 33 - Newcastle went 19 - 0 up, 32 - 19 down and finally 33 -32 up to seal an impressive win. 9 tries scored and such a back and forth game, has to be match of the week, and by virtue of the upset (?) victory on the road Newcastle will grab my team of the week as well