It is never too early to rank teams based on their performance. The important note with these power rankings is that they are not based on preseason ideas about how well each of the Aviva Premiership teams will be.
That means that for the first few weeks of the season there is likely to be pretty wild fluctuations as teams sort themselves out into the tiers we usually see in a given season.
Here are the power rankings after round one:
Newcastle might not be the obvious choice to top this list, but they are here on the merit of their defence. The Clinical and efficient Falcons had one of the most comfortable victories of the round as they allowed just eight points to Worcester. In this era of high-scoring rugby that is a feat worthy of mention.
It is often a team’s attack that takes a while to develop early in the season. Sarries had no such problems as they ran in nine tries – including a first-half hat-trick from Sean Maitland – in defeating the hapless Northampton Saints. It was a fluid display of running rugby from the European Champions that should have the rest of the league on notice.
Wasps were the other team to rack up a half-century of points in their opening game of the season. Dan Robson went even better than Maitland, scoring four tries as they ran all over Sale. Scoring four tries from scrum half is not an easy task, only one other (Elton Moncrieff) of Gloucester has managed it in the Premiership era.
It was an outstanding return to Premiership Rugby for the Exiles as they secured a bonus point win over Harlequins. Tommy Bell was the outstanding player on the park as he added a try to an outstanding kicking display that saw him rack up 24 of the 39 London Irish points.
Poor discipline almost cost Bath their match at Leicester after the away team had used a blitz of points late in the first half to stun their hosts. Bath survives (barely) three yellow cards, and they could have had a couple more. It will be interesting to see what happens with head coach Tabai Matson confirmed to be leaving the club in a couple of weeks.
Gloucester sprung the biggest surprise of Round 1 as they took down defending champions Exeter at Kingsholm. It was a fast and pulsating game with a clash of styles that meshed well together. An impressive debut from head coach Johan Ackermann and his new look side.
The Tigers were beaten at fortress Weldon Road by a Bath team that capitalised on their mistakes and then held off a late comeback attempt. England winger Jonny May scored a late double that will leave Leicester fans believing this defeat was an aberration and not the beginning of a trend.
If a Henry Slade kick slides through the uprights instead of drifting off to the right of the post with two minutes left, then Exeter would have beaten Gloucester. Instead, questions are being asked about the mental strength of the defending champions and their ability to defend their crown. Exeter needs a big performance this weekend against London Irish.
Sale knows what it has to do to get better following the first week of the season. The Sharks attack never let hosts Wasps get comfortable, but their defence was all too easy for the Coventry-based side to break through. There were positive signs from new boy Faf de Klerk in the number 9 jersey and this is a team that will grow as the season progresses.
The Quins would probably have been expected to beat London Irish in the second game of the London Double Header, but it was not to be as the newly promoted side show late grit to hold on for the victory.
The Saints just had no answers for the pace and power of the Saracens’ attack when the two teams met in the opening game of the London Double Header. It was never going to be an easy opener for the Saints, but they would have probably expected to give a better account of themselves than they did.
Worrying signs for Worcester as they put up just eight points – and conceded 35 – to the Newcastle Falcons. The points piled on late, suggesting that the Warriors are behind on their fitness and conditioning. They will need to improve quickly to avoid getting cast adrift.
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