Power Ranking the Aviva Premiership Teams

Dave Gibbs@thedavegibbsContributor IIIDecember 3, 2011

Power Ranking the Aviva Premiership Teams

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    The World Cup is over and the Aviva Premiership season in full swing. Some teams were heavily affected by the World Cup with many of their starting players away in New Zealand.

    The Aviva Premiership has improved since last season, with more points being scored and more attacking rugby on display every week.

    Here is a power ranking of all 12 Premiership sides.

12. Newcastle Falcons

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    Newcastle has struggled ever since the great Jonny Wilkinson departed for Toulon in France. With only two players away in New Zealand, they were not heavily affected by the World Cup.

    However, the Falcons were unable to take advantage of this in the early season, and with seven losses, two wins and a tie through ten games they are almost certainly out of playoff contention.

11. Worcester Warriors

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    Worcester has a good balance of youth and experience in their squad. With only three players away at the World Cup, Worcester was not harmed too much in the early season.

    With exciting flanker Matt Kvesic in the side, Worcester has a handful of talented youngsters which will keep them in the Premiership this season.

10. Bath Rugby

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    Bath appears to be a team on the rise, but their record says otherwise. With four wins and five losses, Bath is currently a middle of the pack side.

    However, the arrival in preseason of Sir Ian McGeechan as Director of Rugby and the young second row Dave Attwood point to a bright future for Bath, as does the return from England duty of Lewis Moody.

9. Sale Sharks

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    Sale is on the up, though eight players at the World Cup hurt them at the start of the season.

    Currently seventh in the Aviva Premiership table, Sale have benefited from the purchase of Andy Powell. However, with star prop Andrew Sheridan still struggling with niggling injuries Sale are not as strong up front.

8. Exeter Chiefs

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    The Chiefs are desperate to prove they are not a one season wonder and have shown it so far, keeping their mid table position. With four wins and five losses they are in sixth based only on bonus points.

    A good young core of players at the club will see them through this season and maintain Exeter in the Aviva Premiership for another season.

7. London Wasps

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    After years at the top, Wasps have struggled in recent years and appear to be on a downward slide. Despite only two players at the World Cup, Wasps still struggled.

    With a large number of top quality players leaving Wasps in recent years, such as James Haskell, Andy Powell and Mark van Gisbergen, their decline was inevitable.

    Wasps’ path back to contention will be based around their centres, with Dominic Waldouck and Riki Flutey one of the most talented centre partnerships in the Premiership.

6. Leicester Tigers

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    The Word Cup crippled Leicester, with 10 players away on international duty. The Tigers are currently only tenth in the table, with three wins, a tie and five losses.

    Despite this, recent wins against Gloucester and Sale, as well as the tie with London Irish shows that the Tigers are back and could well end up in playoff contention by the end of the season.

    The young back line of Leicester means that they always carry a try scoring threat, with England centre Manu Tuilagi leading the charge.

5. Gloucester Rugby

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    A third placed finish last year for Gloucester was followed by yet more playoff heartbreak. With seven players away on World Cup duty, Gloucester did well to get some early wins.

    However, while Gloucester has beaten several of the big teams already, a heavy loss to Harlequins and struggles against lesser sides have hurt the Cherry and Whites in 2011.

    Winger Charlie Sharples will have to maintain his good form for Gloucester to contend this season.

4. London Irish

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    London Irish appear to be getting closer to that elusive title. Currently at third in the table, their cause has been boosted by six bonus points.

    Their season was not affected too badly by the World Cup, despite eight players in New Zealand.

    Having scored the second most points in the league, the attack of the Irish will have to continue to carry the team forward.

3. Saracens

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    Last year’s champions have a solid core, with Owen Farrell and Alex Goode leading a new wave of young English talent at the club.

    Very active in the offseason, Saracens bought well and picked up Matt Stevens after his suspension for drug abuse expired, and he has looked good in action this season.

    Former England Captain Steve Borthwick skippers the side. While he is a solid operator in the lineout, he is not a talented ball carrier and this can be problematic for Saracens as they don’t always have a man to power over the gain line when it is required.

2. Northampton Saints

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    With a young, English player core, Northampton seems close to winning the title this year. The return of nine players from World Cup duty has further strengthened their push.

    The full back/ wing axis of this team is Ben Foden and Chris Ashton, two of the Premiership’s best attacking players.

    The potential loss of Jim Mallinder to the England coaching vacancy and the current media circus surrounding him could be all that keeps Northampton from winning it all this season.

1. Harlequins

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    The Quins top of the table spot has been built around its pack. With only Nick Easter away at the World Cup, Harlequins took advantage and stormed forwards, and are the Premiership’s only undefeated team.

    With the return of Easter, Quins will continue their run of fine form. Easter and captain Chris Robshaw make for a powerful and talented Harlequins back row.