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Aviva Premiership 2017-18: Week 2 power rankings

How did the matches in Week 2 change the power rankings?


We are starting to see some divisions in the league table as three teams are unbeaten, while three have yet to pick up their first win. Here are the power rankings after Week 2 with last week’s ranking in brackets:

Rankings

1 – Wasps (3)

Wasps were more impressive in their opening win over Sale, but their 24-10 win over Worcester shows that they can win games in different ways. Marcus Watson is a winger of real quality and pace. The away side wore down their hosts before capitalising with two late tries. It wasn’t always pretty, but it was effective.

2 – Newcastle (1)

Miserable conditions at the AJ Bell Stadium in Sale meant that the Round 2 match between the Falcons and the Sharks was more for the purists. It was a battle of penalties as opposed to the free flowing rugby we had seen in Round 1. Newcastle earned a penalty try with just seven minutes left for the win. The Tyneside club wasn’t a team many were considering as championship contenders in the preseason, but two wins from two is dark horse material.

3 – Bath (5)

A few days later and I still do not understand how Bath managed to beat Sarries at The Rec. In Semesa Rokoduguni, Bath has a player of the highest quality who can turn games in an instant with his speed, stepping ability, and awareness. Wins over Saracens and Leicester – two teams the West Country side traditionally struggle with – look great in the early going.

4 – Exeter (8)

Exeter are the joint biggest risers on the countdown after disposing of London Irish in ruthless fashion at Sandy Park. In many ways, the defending champions were unlucky to lose in Round 1 against Gloucester and you could almost sense that there was unfinished business in this match from that one. The bonus point win was an impressive one – especially given the wet and windy conditions – as Exeter got their season up and running in style.

5 – Saracens (2)

Saracens only drop three places after their first defeat of the season, but they would have been top of the power rankings if they had held off 14-man Bath for just two more minutes. After a dismal first half, Sarries came back strongly and looked to have done enough to win with their pressure defence and powerful attack. One moment of Rokoduguni magic was enough for them to fall down the table.

6 – Harlequins (10)

Harlequins edge above Gloucester in these rankings after beating them in a fun and competitive game at The Stoop. It was a game you would expect them to win, but Gloucester showed on the opening day against Exeter that they will always do enough to stay in the game. Quins though answered all the questions thrown at them to get their first win of the campaign.

7 – Gloucester (6)

Gloucester drops one place to 7th after losing to Harlequins. The match played out in a way that it never quite seemed like Gloucester would get the win as Quins generally kept them at arm’s length. The Gloucester coaching staff would have taken one win and one defeat to start the season, but after beating the champions in their first game they may be slightly disappointed that they didn’t maintain their intensity for this contest.

8 – Northampton (11)

The Saints rolled in three tries to one against Leicester in an impressive – and shockingly comfortable – Round 2 win at Franklin’s Gardens. This was the same Northampton side that had looked lost a week before against Saracens, but the battle for East Midlands bragging rights always seems to bring out the best in this team. Northampton are at their best when they get on the front foot early and an early Luther Burrell try was one they never looked back from.

9 – London Irish (4)

London Irish just weren’t ready for the Exeter blitz they endured. The writing was on the wall for Irish immediately at Sandy Park. The Twickenham win to start the season was ideal for the newly promoted Exiles, but they will have to figure out how to prepare for the weekly grind of Aviva Premiership play in a hurry if they aren’t to be scrapping to avoid relegation come next spring.

10 – Sale (9)

Sale scored 35 points (and conceded 50) to Wasps in Round 1 and then followed up that output by not managing a try in miserable conditions at home to Newcastle in Round 2. The Sharks’ two defeats have come by a combined total of 16 points and there is too much talent – both on the pitch and in the coaching area – for Sale to be down at the bottom of these rankings for too long.

11 – Leicester (7)

The Tigers drop four places to 11th in the rankings as their season has got off to a miserable start. Leicester should have beaten Bath in Round 1 and it felt at times in this game like the hangover from that Welford Road defeat really stifled their attack. Losing Manu Tuilagi for at least three months (again) will hurt. How will the 10x champions respond to their slump?  

12 – Worcester (12)

Scoring just 18 points in two games in not a good look for Worcester. The days are long gone when you can win games without putting up three or four tries at a minimum (weather pending). It is hard to see where the scoring is going to come from in this team. They battled hard against Wasps, but the quality just isn’t there in the attacking zone to create and score tries.

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Steve Wright

Rugby Union editor at RealSport.

Steve is a devotee to all things rugby union with writing being just one way of showing his love for the game. He also plays for the highly successful Wichita Barbarians during XVs season, before taking his talents South (in the style of LeBron James) to play sevens for the HEB Hurricanes out of Dallas, Texas.

When not writing or playing rugby, Steve is found playing or watching soccer, or watching any one of dozens of other sports as an admitted competition junkie. He also finds time to release his inner nerd as a lover of all things gaming (board and video.)

Track down more of Steve's work at websites such as HeroSports.com, RuntoftheWeb.com, and TheGamer.com.

Aviva Premiership 2017-18: Week 2 power rankings

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