Premiership Rugby

Record Crowds Served A Treat In Round 10 Of Gallagher Premiership

Record Crowds Served A Treat In Round 10 Of Gallagher Premiership

We take a look at all the storylines from a record-breaking weekend of Premiership action.

Jan 2, 2024
Record Crowds Served A Treat In Round 10 Of Gallagher Premiership

The past 12 months haven’t been the easiest for the Premiership, but you wouldn’t know it watching the latest round of festive fixtures unfold.

Around 152,000 fans traveled to watch their teams play in Round 10, which is the best attendance of the season so far. More impressively, 150,000 fans have attended a single round only nine times before, all when six matches were being played. 

So, for all the doomsday predictions, it seems there’s still a huge appetite for English domestic rugby across the country.

And, the games more than lived up to the billing, with upsets, late comebacks and a treat at Twickenham all taking center stage.

Smith Sets Big Game Alight 

The latest instalment of the Big Game more than lived up to the hype, as 76,813 fans were gifted a spectacle of rugby worth the evening fanfare.

At the forefront of it all was Marcus Smith, who’s individual brilliance helped Harlequins secure a vital 32-26 win over Gloucester.

There were countless occasions when Smith managed to slice up the Gloucester defense, but his crowning moment came in the first half, when he darted through a gap, stormed into space and offloaded to Nick David, who crossed the line to score his second try of the day.

The other moment of magic in the game came courtesy of Danny Care, who delivered a delicate dink over the Gloucester defense. The ball hit the deck and fired backward, straight into the hands of Alex Dombrandt, who had the legs to run it in.

Both these tries helped light up the first half. 

Gloucester edged its way back into the contest in the second half, as the tempo of the game began to grind down. Harlequins looked a little wobbly at times but managed to hold out, meaning they’re now just a point off the top 4.

Ashton Gate Hosts The Immanuel Feyi-Waboso Show

The Exeter Chiefs' 24-14 bonus-point win over the Bristol Bears had plenty of talking points: it cemented the Chiefs' status as a top-4 contender, gave them a rare win on the road, propeled them up to second in the table and was played out in front of a bumper crowd of over 24,257 inside Ashton Gate.

But in the end, this was Immanuel Feyi-Waboso’s night, as the Chiefs winger put in a complete performance, shining on both defense and attack. Not only did he pick up a try in the right corner, the 21-year-old also stepped his way past three defenders, coming within inches of the line, which helped set up Stu Townsend’s eventual score.

If that wasn’t enough, Feyi-Waboso made his presence felt on defense, lodging a thunderous hit on Dan Thomas right in the ribcage, sending the Bears flanker stumbling backward.

The Chiefs winger is eligible to play for both England and Wales, and after his sublime individual display, both unions would be silly not to pick up the phone and request his services in the coming years.

Saints Upset Sharks In Nailbiter 

Whisper it, but the Northampton Saints might be the real deal. 

For the second straight week, the Saints have come from behind to win, this time toppling the high-flying Sale Sharks, 21-17.

The wet and windy conditions meant the encounter was far from a classic, though that didn’t stop the drama from unfolding.

It was the Sharks who took the early advantage, with Joe Carpenter's try separating the two sides at the break.

Momentum stayed with the visitors early in the second period, as Luke Cowan-Dickie charged over to extend the Sharks’ lead.

A gliding run from George Furbank gave the Saints their first points of the game, before George Ford rediscovered his World Cup form and slotted a drop goal to put the Sharks in control.

However, the Saints refused to bow down and edged back into the contest with a spinning finish from Alex Mitchell around a ruck. 

The comeback was sealed when Saints were awarded a late penalty try, sending the home support ballistic, as Saints recorded a fourth straight Premiership win.

Saracens Survives Falcons Scare 

Few would have expected the Newcastle Falcons to pick up anything from this game, and yet, for a while, it appeared they were primed to collect their first league win of the season against the reigning champions.

A stunning solo score from Adam Radwan saw the winger run the length of the field to collect possession and silence the StoneX crowd with only 16 minutes on the clock.

A trifecta of Rory Jennings penalties then put the Falcons on top and gave them a glimmer of hope.

But when the going gets tough, few teams know how to dig deep and respond better than Saracens. 

And respond the team did, first with a quick tap and go, finished by Ivan Van Zyl. Soon after, a barreling run from Juan Martin Gonzalez.

The two tries gave Saracens a six-point cushion, and from there, the final result never was in doubt. 

The Falcons defended valiantly, spearheaded by Guy Pepper, who made a staggering 33 tackles in the game but couldn’t contain a Saracens team that ran out the eventual 37-19 winner.

Tigers Overpower Bath’s Second String 

The Leicester Tigers ended the year with a comfortable 35-22 bonus-point win over a much-changed Bath starting XV.

With the visitors missing many of their marque players, the Tigers were firmly the favorites, but things got off to a rocky start when Louis Schreuder intercepted a loose pass and ran half the pitch to put Bath ahead.

The Tigers quickly responded, with tries from Matt Rogerson and Mike Brown - who was making a rare appearance on the wing.

George Martin’s bruising run brought up the bonus point for the Tigers before the break. From then, the hosts never looked threatened. The loss means Bath slipped to fourth in the table, while Leicester climbed to seventh.