Bath hand spirited Bears the perfect start
It seems Pat Lam's lofty ambitions of achieving Champions Cup qualification straight off the back of promotion with Bristol are off to a near-perfect start following their victory over Bath on Friday night.
While Wallaby wing Luke Morahan stole the headlines, Todd Blackadder's side's collective performance will have piled further pain atop the self-inflicted wounds of last season. With a rather staggering penalty count of 15-6 in Bath's favour, the all too familiar inability to convert their chances will sit uncomfortably for all involved in the club from grassroots to boardrooms.
The Blue, Black and White's faithful fans will take some comfort from the performances of rising backrow stars Sam Underhill and Zach Mercer, who were at the centre of many of Bath's positive moments.
A hat tip to All Black blindside Steve Luatua, former Tigers hooker Harry Thacker, Samoan captain Chris Vui and powerhouse centre Will Hurrell for their effective work carrying Bristol over the game line.
Although, Pat Lam will find time improving the Bears' discipline well spent this week, claiming a victory with a 15-6 penalty count is a rarity in the top level.
Cipriani makes instant impression in Cherry and White
The summer may have been filled with headlines surrounding Danny Cipriani's ascendance to England's starting lineup and subsequent arrest outside a Jersey nightclub, the 31-year-old kicked straight into action for the Cherry and Whites on freshly re-laid Kingsholm turf on Saturday.
The work done by loosehead Val Rapava Ruskin and his fellow forward unit may have provided Cipriani with the platform, but the added magic the standoff sprinkled over The Shed allowed Johan Ackermann's charges to start the season with a flourish.
Conversely, Cipriani's opposite man suffered a differing debut for his new team. Wales' fly-half Dan Biggar donned Northampton Saints' colours for the first time over the weekend, unable to nail down ideal timing with his teammates running lines or avoid conceding unforced errors.
A greatly improved overall performance from Chris Boyd's Saints when compared to the turgid performances that blighted Northampton last season, with plenty of promising signs of a fresh new beginning for the Franklins Gardens faithful.
WASPS SHOW TOUGH OUTER SHELL WHILE SOLOMONS RUES INDISCIPLINE
"A soft underbelly" is a phrase that became synonymous with Dai Young's Wasps amongst fans last season, seeing the Coventry-based side lose a handful of crucial, winnable games across both Europe and the Premiership.
When previewing the season ahead, Dai Young claimed his side would attempt to attain a more consistent and perhaps less flashy game plan.
Newly signed, workhorse openside flanker Joe Atkinson, 22-year-old tighthead Will Stuart and England number eight Nathan Hughes symbolised this more than any other donning Wasps' colours at Sixways this weekend.
Hughes in particular carried Wasps over the game line with a relentless carrying game absent from his performances over the last season or so, looking fully fit and firing for the first time since becoming a Test regular.
Without Hughes' barreling ball-carrying presence, Wasps' game review next week may have revolved around a disappointing defeat rather than a street-smart, hard-fought victory.
Worcester's performance was perhaps the most consistent of the two Midlands sides, with inside centre Ryan Mills, openside Sam Lewis, Springbok scrum-half Francois Hougaard and Welsh international Josh Adams all causing their opponents Billy Vunipola sized headaches.
While their assumed fellow relegation contenders Bristol overcame a poor penalty ratio during the season opener, Worcester's egregious 21 penalties to Wasps' seven will have played a significant role in the 20-21 defeat.
Warriors boss Alan Solomons will likely see this weekend's result as a lost opportunity while Dai Young will find himself assured by a patient, hard-fought victory