Saints set to follow Hurricanes path despite Friday night inaccuracies while Gustard's youngsters impress
Defeat to old Super Rugby rival Johan Ackermann will not have sat well with Saints boss Chris Boyd last weekend, making Friday night's Franklins Gardens victory that much sweeter.
An ambitious attacking, offloading game seemed to set the marker for the new Saints style under Boyd, with Cobus Reinach, Harry Mallinder and Ahsee Tuala all standing out as prevalent attacking weapons.
While their high turnover and handling error rate will not sit well with the Saints, they are unavoidable byproducts of a developing game similar to the brand of the Boyd had his Hurricanes side utilising to great effect in Super Rugby.
Conversely, Boyd's opposite man - also a late summer arrival - Paul Gustard will find little value in their round two defeat.
Six penalties for Dan Biggar and Mallinder will outdo most defensive solidarity Gustard will install this year. A much needed reduction from Friday's 14 penalties is vital if Harlequins are to retain the hope of continuing their season in the manner it began last week.
However, as frustrated as Gustard will be with his first defeat as a top dog in the Premiership, there is a hefty silver lining to their weekend's dark cloud of defeat.
Youngsters Marcus Smith (19), Joe Marchant (22), Nathan Earle (22), Aaron Morris (23) and James Lang (23) all presented themselves as standout performers at the Gardens.
While Earle, Morris and Lang were performing crowd-pleasing acts of attacking elegance, the usual bright sparks of Smith and Marchant proved their worth as staunch defenders.
The England squad pair saved three tries over the weekend with exceptional defensive hits; with Smith, in particular, tracking back spectacularly to deny Tom Collins the game-opening score.
Ford - Eastmond - Tuilagi present Murphy with dream start
The recent doom and gloom around Leicester Tigers following the sacking of Head Coach Matt O'Connor after just one game seemed palpable during the week, meaning that a rather unexpected opening barrage of tries that gifted the home side a four-try bonus point within 22 minutes came as a pleasant surprise for newly instated head honcho Geordan Murphy.
Most pleasing will be the performances of midfield trio George Ford, Kyle Eastmond and Manu Tuilagi. Ford's shift was a masterclass of string pulling, with the connection between himself and old Bath teammate Eastmond sparking numerous successful assaults on Newcastle's defence.
While Eastmond was unfortunately forced from the field after half an hour, his interplay with Tuilagi for the big man's barnstorming, try-scoring run will surely have gifted Murphy an extra skip of confidence as he continues leading Leicester.
With Tuilagi back fit and finally looking match-sharp, the Leicester backline may well reach sometime close to it's potential this year. Although, that is a sentence typed by many a journalist over the last four years.
As far as Newcastle boss and former Leicester old boy Dean Richards will be concerned, a pedestrian opening quarter followed by an improved, yet subpar performance - by last season's standards - will put pain to their second playoff run.
Missed opportunities and a lack of game sharpness are issues easily corrected in the space of a week following a collective long hard look in the mirror, but a single defeat this season will likely mean the difference between reaching playoffs and settling for a frustrating fifth place finish.
WASPS BARE THE BRUNT OF FAMILIAR EXETER BLUEPRINT WHILE BACKROW INJURY LIST GROWS
Dai Young may have hinted at a more reserved game plan this season ahead of their first-round victory at Sixways, but it seems his players had other intentions this weekend.
A frenetic game at the Ricoh Arena presented enough entertainment to cover two entrance costs, with Elliot Daly - in his first start at fullback for Wasps in five years - demonstrating the Test pedigree we have come to know in both England's and the Lions' colours. Potentially further vindication for Eddie Jones' decision to play Daly at fullback over the summer.
Dai Young may be faced with a dilemma in the backrow following confirmation that Brad Shields is set for a sideline spell with a fractured jaw, taking Wasps' backrow injury list to as high as six casualties.
Aside from an errant intercept that allowed Henry Slade to run in his second try of the afternoon, fly-half Billy Searle showed plenty of promise as Wasps' leading man.
It also seems Young has once again played his hand as one of the world's leading propping mentors, with Kieran Brookes looking back to his Test level best and 22-year-old Will Stuart showing no drop in standards when he made his second-half appearance.
Wasps are not the first and will by no means be the last to taste defeat the hands of the Exeter Chiefs blueprint, with the familiar sight of driving maul tries for Sam Simmonds and Don Armand, and some Henry Slade magic taking the 2017 Premiership champions to a bonus point victory.
The final notable performance in Coventry yesterday (Saturday) was the continued return to career-best form of Chiefs openside Matt Kvesic, who is arguably operating as England's most complete openside flanker in the Premiership at current.
A second pill poaching, offloading, hard running and interplaying performance in as many weeks may well profit both club and country, should Eddie Jones pick his openside's on form this November.
Farrell's feathers ruffled by brave Bears rebellion
George Smith's red card for a shot to the chin of Jackson Wray will draw the majority of attention this week, but the fact that a promoted side stood toe-to-toe with Saracens for 50 minutes is an indication of the impressive manner Pat Lam has moulded his Bristol Bears squad.
Even with Owen Farrell and his men presenting an off-colour performance for the majority of their 44-23 victory, Bristol's execution as a collective unit is almost unheard of after an immediate step up from the Championship.
Pat Lam insisted the side he picked this weekend was one that had both his trust to tango with the reigning champions. The performance of former Jersey Reds standoff Callum Sheedy was a testament to Lam's instance, with a millimetre perfect crossfield kick to right wing Alapati Leiua impressing enough to spark applause from Sarries fans themselves. Or it should do at any rate!
The imposing physical presences wingers Leiua and Luke Morahan and centre pairing Siale Piutau and Will Hurrell will likely be crucial to Bristol's ambitions this year, with the quartet providing punching power across the pitch that helps ensure the Bears' halfbacks are supplied with game line succession.
Semesa's back with a bang while Ackermann rues soft second-half
A bittersweet performance for both Johan Ackermann and Todd Blackadder after the first of the season's Gloucester-Bath West Country derbies, with both sides enjoying commanding, high-scoring periods in opposing halves.
Son of the boss, Ruan Ackermann, continues to stamp his South African way of playing on the Premiership with his brace within the first 26 minutes. With one short-range surge paired magnificently with a 30 meter effort after picking a line off of the ever impressive Danny Cipriani.
A preeminent first-half blighted by a soft third quarter that allowed the home side to come back from 21-0 down to a 31 all draw will feel like a lost opportunity to for the Cherry and Whites, especially when a moment of Cipriani magic was all that prevented a disastrous defeat.
Further concern for Ackermann will be the injury to promising loosehead Val Rapava Ruskin, who left the field injured after making an impression as an ardent scrummager and destructive breakdown component.
Billy Twelvetrees continues to roll back the years to the form most familiar with his days at Leicester, filling the crucial role of second distributor and bullish carrier from inside centre, providing Cipriani with the perfect environment to work his wizardry.
A sight for sore eyes around the Recreation ground this weekend will have been the return to fitness and form of Semesa Rokoduguni, who alongside the influential physical presence of Sam Underhill and attacking influence of Freddie Burns, used his game-breaking influence to implement the platform for Bath's comeback
Sale vs Worcester
Sale Sharks boss Steve Diamond said he felt embarrassed by his side's defensive frailties during their defeat at Harlequins last week and while both he and defence coach Mike Forshaw will take satisfaction from their manner in which the blue wall repelled extended periods of Worcester assaults, a high error rate during the second-half following a dominant first 40 minutes will come as a concern for the Sale coaching contingent.
Indiscipline and inaccuracies crept into the Sharks' performance and will present as a real concern for Diamond's top four ambitions this year.
On the bright side for Sale, Marland Yarde continues to perform admirably for his new club, beginning to hint at a more rounded game consisting of more than ball running alone. The former London Irish and Harlequins man proved as much in the set up of Josh Beaumont's first-half score.
Worcester Director of Rugby Alan Solomons joins the ranks of Newcastle boss Dean Richards and Bath Director of Rugby Todd Blackadder to complete a trio yet to win a game this season.
While a spirited fightback resulted in a narrow six-point deficit by the time JP Doyle blew the final whistle in Manchester this afternoon, the aimless nature of the Worcester attack for the bulk of their performance fixes Solomons with a difficult decision to make.
While Duncan Weir provides genuine Test quality from the tee and broad experience at fly-half, the proven attacking edge Australian standoff Jono Lance provided during his short-term deal last season was exactly the impetus the Warriors were lacking today.
Additionally, the absences of Jack Singleton and Francois Hougaard from Worcester's starting XV paints a far less threatening picture than that of their first string side.
Worcester will host the Falcons at Sixways next weekend, a fixture that could set the tone for their pre-Christmas Premiership endeavours.
With the return to a fast track pitch, Solomons may have the chance to kick-start his side two weeks into the season with an assured, multifaceted attacking game.
XV of the week
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