Jason Robinson Blog - RLWC 2017 Semi Finals & RU Autumn Internationals

Big weekend coming up in both codes of rugby on both sides of the world.

Down under Australia entertain Fiji in the first of the Rugby League World Cup semi-finals. Normally you would say it would be Australia without any trouble but after Fiji’s dramatic 4-2 win over New Zealand, you have to wonder if they can back it up with a major surprise over the tournament favourites. The Fiji-New Zealand game was try less but was 80 minutes full on rugby and real edge of your seat stuff.

England beat Papua New Guinea and now play Tonga at 5am on Saturday (UK time). Wayne Bennett and Denis Betts have done an excellent job with England and I expect them to win the game.

In the Rugby Union Internationals, I think Scotland may cause an upset against Australia at Murrayfield. The Scots were unlucky last weekend against the All Blacks and have a good squad of players available. England should see off Samoa at Twickenham and I think the All Blacks will be too strong for Wales. Ireland should see off Argentina and then we start looking ahead to the Six Nations early in the New Year.

In the Aviva Premiership Worcester who recorded their first win of their premiership campaign last week travel to Leicester Tigers. Tigers started the season slowly but are now on a winning run and Worcester will need to play well to get anything from that game. Leicester are an 80-minute side as they showed last week with a win over Sharks with most of their points scored late on.

Newcastle will be looking to bounce back against Gloucester on Friday night at Kingston Park after their defeat at Wasps. Gloucester are a team on the rise with a win last week over Saracens. Gloucester on their day can beat anyone and they are now more consistent than they have been in recent years.

Bath against Harlequins is an early start on Saturday at The Rec and will be, in my view one of the closest games of Round 9. Bath at home are a good side and they won on the road last week at London Irish. Harlequins have had injury problems this year and will be without Danny Care and Chris Robshaw, who are a massive on field influence for Quins, but some of John Kingston’s youngsters are looking very good and this should be a great game.

Sharks entertain Northampton who are having had a poor run of late. Northampton recovered well after their opening day thumping by Saracens and topped the premiership before losing form and they have now lost six of their last seven games. Sale look a great side going forward and picked up a try bonus at Leicester. But they concede a lot of points at the moment and were on the end of an 18-4 penalty count at Leicester last Sunday.

London Irish will have their hands full on Sunday when they host Wasps. Irish secured a losing bonus point last weekend at home to Bath but with Worcester winning the Exiles went bottom of the premiership. Wasps on the other hand seem to have recovered from a spell when they couldn’t win due mainly to injuries affecting crucial positions, but have now found the right combinations again. Good to see Kyle Eastmond back playing again too after his injury.

Finally, for me, game of the round has to be Saracens hosting Exeter Chiefs at Allianz Park. Exeter are a great club, both on and off the field and as reigning champions, go to Sarries with no fear. Rob Baxter has got the Chiefs playing the sort of rugby that not only wins games but brings in the crowds. They don’t have any superstars but are well disciplined and play the game the way it should be played. Saracens lost last week at Gloucester, but rest assured they will recover quickly.

 


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