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Guinness Premiership Season Review

30 June 2007

 

Gloucester finished top of the table Guinness Premiership table in the regular season but were well beaten in the Guinness Championship Final at Twickenham by Leicester Tigers 44-9.

They finished ahead of Leicester Tigers in the table by points difference and mist wins rule. They made a great start to the new Premiership season with seven wins and a draw in their opening eight matches.

In the Heineken Cup they failed to make it out of the Group stages losing three of their six matches, to Agen, home and away, and at Leinster.

They did manage to win two of their three matches in the Group stages of the EDF Energy Cup but were second in the Group to Ospreys.

New Zealander Willie Walker was the top scorer for the club with 159 points in the Premiership

The title of leading try scorer was shared between No 8 James Forrester and winger/centre James Simpson Daniel with five. It was the fourth time that Simpson-Daniel topped the try scoring list and the third time he has shared top spot.

Ludovic Mercier scored 50 points in the season and passed Mark Mapletoft as the clubs leading all time points scorer with 852 points, four more than the previous record. He also increased his club record for career penalties to 122.

 

 

Leicester Tigers ended the season with a domestic double but missed out on an unprecedented treble when losing in the final of the Heineken Cup to London Wasps.  

In the Guinness Premiership they final second to Gloucester and progressed to the final of the Championship Final with a 26-14 home win over Bristol.

In the EDF Energy Cup they were Group winners with wins over Gwent Dragons, and Worcester and a loss to Northampton saints. They beat Sale Sharks in the semi finals at the Millennium Stadium before going on to beat Ospreys at Twickenham in mid April.   

After losing their opening Group match in the Heineken Cup at home to the holders Munster they were left with a mountain to climb but went on to win their next five matches including an historic win at Thomond Park to end Munster's amazing home record in the competition.

They were home winners in the Quarter final and semi final over Stade Francais and Llanelli but failed at the final step when beaten by London Wasps.

Andy Goode finished as the leading scorer for a fourth consecutive season and has now scored 894 points for the Tigers in the League. Winger Tom Varndell was the leading try scorer for the second consecutive season with nine tries, two fewer than the previous season. He has now scored 29 tries in 36 starts and six appearances as a replacement.

 

 

Bristol were the surprise package of the season finishing third and making the Guinness Championship play offs after finishing in third place in the table.

They were beaten in the semi finals of the play off by Leicester 26-14 at Welford Road.

In the European Challenge Cup they reached the quarter final before going out to local rivals Bath lamely 51-21.

In the EDF Energy Cup they failed to get past the group stage with just one win from their three matches.

They made a great start in the Premiership and were beaten just twice in their first 14 matches before dropping off the pace after four straight defeats. They recovered and a run of three wins guaranteed them a place in the play offs.

Fly half Jason Strange was the top scorer for the club for the third successive season but with just 80 points with Dave Hill and Danny Gray also getting game time at fly half and kicking duties.

Samoan winger David Lemi was the leading try scorer in the Premiership with 11 tries and topped the Bristol try scoring charts for a second successive season and has 19 tries in two seasons at the club.

 

 

Saracens finished in fourth place in the Guinness Premiership their best finish in the Premiership since 1999/00 when they also finished fourth. In the Championship play off they were beaten in the semi finals comfortably by Gloucester at Kingsholm 50-9.  

They recovered form a poor start to the season losing three and drawing one of their opening six matches before going on a run of six wins in eight matches.

In the European Challenge Cup they reached the semi final before going out by the narrowest of margins to Bath 31-30.

In the Group stages they won their first five matches before drawing away at Glasgow in their final Group match. They then met Glasgow in the quarter finals and were 23-19 winners at Vicarage Road before going on to lose to Bath at home in the Semi finals.

In the EDF Energy Cup they lost their opening two Group matches to London Irish and Cardiff before picking up a win over London Wasps in their final Group match but it made no difference and they failed to progress.

Glen Jackson topped the scoring in the Guinness Premiership with 272 points 93 points more than anyone else. He has now topped the Sarries scoring list for three successive seasons and is now the clubs all time leading scorer in league rugby. He has now scored 587 points and holds the record for conversions and penalty goals with 76 and 126 respectively. Fijian wing Kameli Ratuvou topped the try scoring in his first season at the club with seven tries.

French Full back Thomas Castaignede in his last season for the club was second in the try scoring with six tries and is now the clubs all time leading try scorer with 31 since joining in the summer of 2000.

 

 

London Wasps finished in fifth place in the Guinness Premiership table and failed to make the play offs for the first time.

Five defeats in seven matches at the end of the year left them off the pace 

They were though Heineken Cup winners when beating Leicester Tigers in the final at Twickenham 

They topped their Group which included Castres, Perpignan and Benetton Treviso. They beat Leinster in the Quarter finals and Northampton in the Semi finals to set up the meeting with Leicester Tigers.

In the EDF Energy Cup they failed to get out of the Group stages losing to Cardiff and Saracens and managing just the one win over London Irish.

Full back Mark van Gisbergen was the leading scorer for the club in the Premiership with 84 points as he topped the list for the fourth consecutive season and has now scored 712 points for Wasps in the Premiership in 84 starts.

Alex King again extended his all time record adding 63 points to take his to exactly 1,000. He also extended his club all time records for conversions penalties and drop goals to 135, 176 and 34 respectively.

England winger Paul Sackey topped the try scoring list with eight in the Premiership for the first time and has now scored 58 tries in the Premiership in his three club career.

 

  

London Irish finished in sixth place in the Guinness Premiership a drop of three places on the previous season. They had a great run mid season with eight wins in ten matches to have an out side chance of making the play off's but finished with three defeats in their final four matches to fall off the pace.

In a tough Group in the Heineken Cup they failed to progress picking up just one win in a Group that included Llanelli, Toulouse and Ulster.

They failed to get out of their Group in the EDF Energy Cup after an opening round win over Saracens they went down to defeats against London Wasps and Cardiff.

England starlet Shane Geraghty finished as leading scorer with 83 points with Riki Flutey and Barry Everitt sharing the kicking

England A winger Topsy Ojo topped the try scoring list for the first time at the club with eight tries.

Barry Everitt added another 72 points to his all time total and now heads the list with 1236 including increased record for conversions, 95, and penalty goals, 312.

 

 

Harlequins on their return to the Premiership finished a creditable seventh as they look to build for the future over the coming seasons.

They made a poor start with five successive defeats but then went on a three match wining run to get some confidence. They moved right up the table with five wins in six matches just after Christmas which meant they had no fears of relegation.

In the European Challenge Cup they failed to get out of the Group stages with back to back defeats against Bath home and away, they did though do the double over both Connacht and Montpelier.

They were beaten in all three of the Group matches in the EDF Energy Cup going down to Llanelli, Sale and Newcastle.

Adrian Jarvis was the leading points scorer for the club for the first time with 181 points.

Full back Mike Brown was the clubs leading try scorer with nine tries, the best return by a Quins player in the Premiership since Dan Luger scored 11 back in 1997-98. Brown was rewarded with a trip to South Africa with England where he won his first cap.

 

 

 

Bath finished in eighth place in the Guinness Premiership a one place improvement on the previous season. They did though reach the final of the European Challenge Cup where they were narrow losers to Clermont Auvergne.

They reached the final on the back of eight straight wins, they won all six of the Group matches and then reached the final with wins over Bristol and Saracens in the Quarter and Semi Finals respectively.

In the EDF Energy Cup they lost all three of their group matches against Bristol, Gloucester and Ospreys.  

Olly Barkley returned to the top of the Bath scores list after a two season absence and has now been their top scorer four times in six seasons and is nearing the 1,000 point mark in the Premiership which he should pass in the coming season. He currently stands on 935 points in 98 starts and broke the Bath record for penalties in a career as he overtook Jon Callard's total on 228 by one.

He equalled his own record of seven penalties in a match in the home win over Gloucester in early April.

Chris Malone extended his club record for drop goals to 22 in what was his final season for the club after agreeing to join Harlequins in the summer.

New Zealand wing Joe Maddock was the leading try scorer with just five tries.

 

After two successive seasons finishing in seventh place Newcastle Falcons dropped to ninth last season but were 11 points from the drop zone.

In the European Challenge Cup they progressed out of their Group but were beaten in the Quarter final by the eventual Champions Clermont Auvergne. In the Group they won all three home matches and despite losses away at Montauban and Brive they made the knockout stages.  

Despite two wins in the Group stages of the EDF Energy Cup, against Llanelli and Harlequins, the Falcons failed to reach the semi finals of the competition. 

Toby Flood ended the season as the leading points scorer for the first time with just 89, the lowest title for many a year but they did use four kickers throughout the season due to injury and International call ups.

England centre Jamie Noon was the clubs leading try scorer for the second time with six tries, one fewer than when he was last leading scorer in 2001/02.

Jonny Wilkinson added to his all time club record for points, conversions, penalty goal and drop goals moving them on to 1358, 183, 274 and 20 respectively.     

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

Last seasons Champions Sale Sharks fell from grace in spectacular style finishing a lowly 10th on the table in which they suffered with major injures to a number of key players and well as increased calls on their players in the Autumn Internationals and the Six Nations.

They made a good start to the season with five successive wins after losing on the opening weekend away at Leicester Tigers. After that run they won just three more matches all season in the Premiership.

They also failed to progress to the knock out stages of the Heineken Cup losing home and away to Ospreys and away at Stade Francais, although they did do the double over Italian side Calvisano.

In the EDF Energy Cup they won all three of their Group matches, against Newcastle, Harlequins and Llanelli, but were beaten in the semi finals by eventual winners Leicester Tigers at the Millennium Stadium.

Despite missing most of the season Charlie Hodgson still topped the scoring list with 80 points, He has now been the leading scorer in five of the last six seasons and three in a row.

He took his all time career record at Sale Sharks to 1122 and extended his record for conversions and penalties to 155 and 219.  

Centre Chris Bell was the leading try scorer for the Sharks in the Premiership with six tries in his first season at the club after his move form Leeds Tykes.

 

 

 

Worcester Warriors recovered form an appalling start to the Guinness Premiership season to finish 11th and one point ahead of Northampton Saints in the battle to stay in the Premiership.

They lost their opening eight matches in the Premiership Two wins and a draw in their next six matches helped them get some points on the board but it was a run of three successive wins in March which managed to give them the edge over the Saints. Away defeats at Bristol and London Irish left them needing a last day win over Saracens to guarantee a fourth season of Premiership rugby and a 22-7 win secured that.

In the European Challenge Cup they won four of their six matches but failed to make it out of the Group containing Viadana, Clermont Auvergne and Albi.

They did not make it out of their Group in the EDF Energy Cup despite two wins against Northampton Saints and Gwent Dragons, but a 35-20 home defeat against Leicester Tigers proved costly.

Shane Drahm topped the points list for a second successive season with 156 down on his previous total on 233. In his two seasons at the club he has kicked a club record 84 penalty goals and 8 drop goals.

Four players finished leading try scorers with just three tries apiece, Gavin Quinnell, Aleki Lutui, Thinus Delport and Aisea Havali. 

 

 

 

Northampton Saints were relegated from the Guinness Premiership and are back in National One where they last played back in the 1995/96 season bouncing back to the top flight at the first attempt after been relegated in the 1994/95 season.

They went down on the final day of the season by a point despite wining against London Irish with Worcester beating Saracens. They went through an 11 match run which saw them pick up just one win and a draw and going down to nine defeats starting just after Christmas.

In the EDF Energy Cup they lost their opening two Group matches against Worcester and Gwent Dragons but did manage a win over Leicester Tigers in their final Group match but the Tiers were already through to the Semi Finals.

In the Heineken Cup they had an amazing season compared to their league form reaching the semi finals. They got out of a Group containing Biarritz, Scottish Borders and Parma, they lost both matches to Biarritz but did the double over the other two sides. They were then drawn away at Biarritz in the quarter final and went onto beat them 7-6 thanks to a Robbie Kydd converted try.

They were finally beaten by London Wasps in the Semi final at Ricoh Stadium despite taking a 13-0 lead going down 30-13 in the end.       

Carlos Spencer and Bruce Reihana ended the season as joint leading scorers with 66 points each. In the try scoring stakes scrum half Mark Robinson led the way with eight tries, the best return since Reihana ran in 13 back in 2002/03.