Jason Robinson talks… Sarries, 7s and Premiership semi-finals

May 19, 2017

There’s only one place to start this week, the Champions Cup final and what a big game it was, with both teams in great form coming in to the final. Saracens were looking to defend their title, while Clermont went in search of their first European title.

It was a physical game, with both sets of forwards looking to stamp their authority on the game hoping to release their electric backs. Saracens had the upper hand early doors, with Chris Ashton scoring off a bit of Alex Goode magic. This try saw Ashton break the record for most tries scored in the competition and fair play to him, he’s been in great form and thoroughly deserves it. Sarries scored shortly after with some big carries, but it didn’t take long for Clermont to hit back, scoring what I thought was the game’s best try. Scott Spedding making the break on the counter attack, the ball went out wide to Yato, who threw a lovely flip pass to Abendanon who went over. Sarries brought so much confidence into the game and must be commended as a team, as they played for each other and the result showed as they hung on to claim consecutive titles. I thought Farrell controlled the game perfectly, like he has all competition and it was great to see him get the European Player of the year.

The night before, Gloucester took on Stade Francais in the Challenge Cup final. Jonny May’s intercept try early on put Gloucester on the front foot. However, it didn’t take long for Parisse to hit back for Stade and with Willi Heinz getting yellow carded, Stade took control of the game. I did feel that Gloucester should have had a penalty try, Tom Marshall was held back which I thought was pretty blatant, but it wasn’t given and I think Gloucester would have been very disappointed by that decision.

 

“…they worked hard to get there and it was potentially a route to qualifying for the Champions Cup but it just wasn’t to be.”

At this point, it could have gone either way but Stade pounced on a loose pass and went in to score an interception try in the corner which helped seal the victory for the men from Paris. Gloucester will be massively disappointed with this result, they worked hard to get there and it was potentially a route to qualifying for the Champions Cup but it just wasn’t to be.

The penultimate round of the HSBC World Sevens Series was in Paris last weekend and it was another win for South Africa, who with the London leg still to come, have already won the Series. Scotland were very impressive getting to the final but they came unstuck against a South African team that has completely dominated all year. The Scots won their first tournament last year in London and will be looking to do the same this year. Samoa looked to be back to their best, beating Fiji and Australia and may be a dark horse in this weekend’s tournament.

This weekend sees the semi-finals of the Premiership take place with Exeter hosting Sarries at Sandy Park. This is going to be a great game! The Chiefs started the season slowly but have been in exceptional form lately picking up 8 bonus point wins in a row. The Devon side have a great set piece and have been scoring a lot of tries, so if anybody can give Sarries a run for their money, it’s Exeter, who also have home advantage.

“…so they will be looking to show their supporters that they’ve put all that behind them.”

It’s an exciting time if you’re a Saracens player, looking for the Premiership double to go with the Champions Cup double. The men from London will be looking to back last weekend’s performance up with another big win and with the players they have, they can certainly do that. This is going to be a massive game and I can’t wait to see who comes out on top.

In the other semi-final, Leicester head to Coventry to take on Wasps. It’s been a funny year for Leicester, losing their coach amongst other things, so they will be looking to show their supporters that they’ve put all that behind them. Wasps have home advantage and will be favourites coming in to this, but as we’ve seen in the past, anything can happen in a semi-final and Tigers certainly won’t throw in the towel.

Finally, Ian Ritchie is stepping down from the RFU and in my opinion, he’s done a great job for England. He had a lot of work to do, especially after the World Cup and the disappointment there, but he is leaving England Rugby in a good place, Eddy Jones was appointed and financially the RFU are in a good position. Congratulations to him and what he’s done for English rugby and I wish him all the best. I believe he’s looking to spend some more time on a golf course which I think is very well deserved.


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