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Monday May 19, 2014

Northampton Saints and Saracens to meet in Aviva Premiership Final

Northampton Saints and Saracens to meet in Aviva Premiership Final
22
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Northampton Saints and Saracens will contest the Aviva Premiership Final on May 31st following wins over Leicester Tigers and Harlequins respectively. If you missed the games, here are quick official highlight wraps from both semi finals.

Both games included a fair bit of controversy, with Salesi Ma’afu being red carded for punching Tom Youngs, while Saracens winger Chris Ashton has been spoken to by the RFU regarding an incident in the first half. He allegedly shouted ‘push it’ as Nick Evans was taking a conversion.

Saints beat Tigers 21-20 in a hard-fought game at Franklin’s Gardens. Coach Jim Mallinder has since spoken of the team’s need to not dwell on the win, but follow up with a significant triumph.

“To go down to 14 men and still come out of it was testament to the massive character of the side,” he said. “A significant moment will be when we win a big competition. We’ve been in a Heineken Cup final, we were in the Premiership final last season. It will be significant when we win a big one.”

Ma’afu will face a disciplinary hearing for the red card he received after decking Youngs, while Tigers flyhalf Owen Williams has been charged with “acts contrary to good sportsmanship/making contact with the eye(s) or eye area of Luther Burrell”. Their hearings are on Tuesday evening.

Saracens meanwhile are eyeing a historic ‘double’ as they are in both the Premiership final and the Heineken Cup final. They beat Harlequins 31-17 on Saturday (highlights on page two).

“The squad is really confident at the moment and they front up every single week,” said coach Mark McCall, who’s team first needs to take on Toulon in Cardiff this coming Saturday (May 24th).

Saracens vs Harlequins Highlights (on page two)

22 Comments

  • finedisregard
    8:25 PM 20/05/2014

    Depth I guess? Revolving door coaching? It seems that the Scottish forwards are usually better than their backs. I'm ready for Scotland to be good again!

    Reply
  • finedisregard
    8:23 PM 20/05/2014

    Exactly. Look, shaking hands with the opposition after a game is not in the law book, but if someone would refuse to do so then that "crime" in my opinion shows a lack of respect to the game which is worse than any off ball issue. Same thing goes for the treatment of the referee. Rugby union has a code and it's not the same thing as the Laws.

    Reply
  • eddie-g
    3:58 PM 20/05/2014

    Full credit to Youngs and Maafu for their twitter exchange. Heck, the RFU should pay for those pints in lieu of the disciplinary hearing. On the charging of conversion attempts, maybe I'm biased as I used to be a kicker, but I've never been a fan. I never understood why the laws permitted it. One of the most pissed moments I had on a rugby field was once I'd lined up a conversion, but wasn't happy with how the ball was standing on the tee, so walked back up to the ball to set it again. The guys on the other side started charging, and the ref said that was ok. I'd made a small mistake of not telling the ref I was going to reset the ball, but I thought it was obvious what I was doing, and was not impressed when I wasn't allowed to take the kick. Anyway, Ashton's shouting was out of order I think, but you know, it's not like the laws discourage doing whatever you want to distract a kicker, so I'd be in favour of a change.

    Reply
  • drg
    3:42 PM 20/05/2014

    Tongue in cheek my dear stroudos, tongue in cheek...

    Reply
  • reality
    1:33 PM 20/05/2014

    It's rare but it can happen. Donnacha O'Callaghan did it once against Argentina when they had a conversion from in front of the posts, and I remember Ronan O'Gara taking a conversion where the ball blew over in the wind during his run-up and so he was forced to then take a quick drop goal attempt (which he missed) because the opposition were sprinting towards him. So, while they're exceedingly rare, charge-downs of conversions can happen. Personally though I think you risk more than you gain, e.g. Luke Fitzgerald giving Aaron Cruden a second kick to win the match against Ireland because he charged the conversion attempt early.

    Reply
  • stroudos
    12:00 PM 20/05/2014

    If I may make a slightly tangential point, I don't agree with players "charging the kicker" either. Seems to be accepted as part of the game, but surely this is at least as bad sportsmanship as shouting something out. The idea that you're looking to actually charge the kick down is nonsense - very unlikely that you'll be able to physically do anything about that, (Stringer mugging O'Connor in that Baabaas game would be the exception to prove the rule). With this in mind, although Ashton takes it to a more uncouth level, I don't see that it's significantly different. All gamesmanship however you look at it.

    Reply
  • stroudos
    10:31 AM 20/05/2014

    DrG - Hardly mate! I mean I know he got knocked down, but that just gives an indication of how hard the punch was. To bounce back up from a punch like that is pretty impressive in my book.

    Reply
  • danknapp
    9:59 AM 20/05/2014

    Look, both 'crimes' are forgivable. Ashton's offence came after an extremely intense 77 minutes of rugby played at the highest level. Ma'afu was overcome by adrenalin. Both are wrong, both are understandable, and I think both were dealt with correctly. I guess the problem with Ashton's actions, and what makes for an interesting debate, is that it has little impact on that particular match but is seen to be counter to the fundamental principles of the game as whole. I actually think Ashton has done really well this season and would welcome him back into the England camp. He deserves a chance to show what he can do on the World stage again. I am very disappointed with his actions in this instance, particularly given that kids might be watching, and think the RFU were quite right to publically admonish him.

    Reply
  • reality
    9:32 AM 20/05/2014

    Did you not see how Evans landed on his backside? He could have hurt his arse that way! We can't have sore arses in the game. Think of the children!

    Reply
  • danknapp
    9:04 AM 20/05/2014

    DrG - I agree with you (again). I think Ma'afu was rightly sent off, as was Youngs, but I thought that the way they dealt with it after the game was entirely appropriate. As Ma'afu said, sometimes players will lose their temper in the heat of a game, but it is all about respect. Ashton's actions were on the edge of legality but clearly broke the fundamental principle of the spirit of the game. I can understand why he did what he did, because after 77 minutes of incredible rugby anyone is going to be struggling to make completely rational decisions, but I wouldn't want to see it again. The RFU were quite right to admonish him for it.

    Reply
  • drg
    8:51 AM 20/05/2014

    It is fair to say everyone has their own opinion, however mine is still contrary to yours Jimmy. In my humble opinion; I am not bothered if I'm the only person with it though, I feel that two front rowers throwing a few digs is nothing particularly new, nor controversial. Someone clocking someone else has always been an occurrence during the history of rugby (rightly or wrongly). Ashton yelling at a kicker, seems extremely footballesque, and is something 'new' (probably not, but not common nowadays) and for me it is on par with feigning an injury/diving, which personally I view as far worse than two front rowers having a scrap.

    Reply
  • 1:00 AM 20/05/2014

    The quins lock should be embarrassed at his d on the brown try, high, flailing tackle attempt if I've ever seen one. Didn't see anything wrong with Bosch tackle, was that after a replay? Disappointing if so

    Reply
  • jimmy23
    11:07 PM 19/05/2014

    Perhaps I didn't really express my point in the right way, upon reading my previous comment I think I sounded a bit to defensive of him. I fully get that it undermines the respect that players have between each other in rugby and Ashton deserves to have a telling off. But generally people seem to be more up in arms about Ashton yelling at Evans than Maafu punching Youngs. What Ashton did at most is on par, but not worse. Perhaps he did it in the heat of the moment? He's played quite a few professional games and this is the first time he's done it. NOT saying that makes it forgivable, there is a reason he's getting told off by the RFU for it and rightly so. Hopefully this is the last of his bad attitude we see because as good as his form is, doesn't give him the right to showboat.

    Reply
  • drg
    9:58 PM 19/05/2014

    I'm with Dan on this one. I remember a game when I was at school (which was a fairly respectable school) where we had been leading a very close fought game and they had just scored in the 77th (ish) minute. The kicker lined up and as he ran so did we - and we all yelled at the top of our voices (in anger and frustration), he missed the kick (which would have put them in front) - Not only did the referee (who was OUR schools head rugby coach) allow him to retake the kick, he also gave us all a bollocking and gave the opposition a penalty from the half way line...all in all we felt a bit stupid afterwards. Your own team crowd/nation crowd etc is embarrassing to hear when they boo and yell at a kicker, I'd rather play in front of no one than in front of a bunch of halfwits, but the fact that players will do it to other players is pathetic. @Dan, sort of highlights the conversation we were having in a previous video where it seems nowadays: The win > the game.

    Reply
  • drg
    9:49 PM 19/05/2014

    Maybe Tom Youngs has a glass jaw?

    Reply
  • danknapp
    9:42 PM 19/05/2014

    Yes, it IS that bad, because it undermines the basic expectation of respect between players. The noise isn't the issue - these guys have an ability to shut out distractions that I envy - but this is a sport built on respect. I'm extremely disappointed with Ashton. I would be ashamed if he did that in my nation's jersey.

    Reply
  • danknapp
    9:39 PM 19/05/2014

    Cracking link, thanks for sharing. I wouldn't have seen that otherwise.

    Reply
  • jimmy23
    7:42 PM 19/05/2014

    Is Ashton yelling 'push it' really that big of a deal? Yes it's not amazing sportsmanship, but considering kickers have had to deal with thousands of people yelling 'push it' or worse from the the stands on many occasions I don't think it's THAT bad. I'm not condoning it, hopefully he gets a talking to and doesn't make a habit out of it. I'm just wondering if it was someone else people would be hating as much. On a side note, that Saints/Tigers game was something else...

    Reply
  • mattyj
    7:27 PM 19/05/2014

    seen some impressive individual efforts from scottish players recently (kelly brown here) and others for the glasgow warriors so why can't the national side compete at this kind of level?

    Reply
  • finedisregard
    7:06 PM 19/05/2014

    Buddy, you're 100% right. Ashton yelling at a kicker taking a conversion is more troublesome and objectionable to me than any "tip tackle". What a horrible example for young players watching the game. Cards and the removal of players from the field is really changing the outcome of all big games. It's one of the biggest factors in the result and shouldn't be so.

    Reply
  • stroudos
    5:24 PM 19/05/2014

    For me, Bowden's was worth a card - looked really awkward the way the bloke's body crumpled and got his feet over his head. I think Bowden could quite easily have avoided tipping him, and it could have a been a lovely tackle. The Bosch one was total bollocks - beautifully timed and controlled tackle. He actual put downward pressure on Evans's legs in a perfect example of ensuring a safe landing for the tacklee. I felt that the other decisions were all pretty good. At the time I thought the cards for Youngs and Ma'afu were a bit harsh - just a couple of front-rowers "exchanging telephone numbers" as Bill McLaren used to say. But you can't exactly allow a punch that's hard enough to knock over a bloke of Tom Youngs's build to go un-redcarded, can you... My personal highlight (not shown in the clip) was one Northampton restart where Courtney Lawes turned into an exocet missile and launched himself at a load of potential ball-catchers. Missed every single one of them and just carried on flying through the air then sliding on the turf!! made me laugh anyway.

    Reply
  • stroudos
    5:13 PM 19/05/2014

    Hats off to Youngs and Maafu for keeping alive the age-old tradition of getting your aggression aout on the pitch and leaving it there... http://officialrugbydump.tumblr.com/post/86199238484/the-salesi-maafu-punch-on-tom-youngs-followed-by

    Reply


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