With six games gone and the league taking a month’s break for cup outings, this seems a good time to take stock of what’s been going on since September began.
We have played Leicester, Wasps and London Welsh away, and London Irish, Northampton and Exeter at home. From that we have two wins and a losing bonus point, so nine points. I think if you reversed the London Irish and Exeter scores, then perhaps we have done pretty much as many will have expected since the start of the season, or at least dared to hope for.
Underneath the results, which leave us eleventh in the table but far closer to tenth and even fifth than bottom, we have been competitive in every game, and bar Juan Pablo Socino’s kicking off-day against Irish and a horrific first half hour against Northampton, we could well be sitting higher.
That false start against the champions and the end of the Wasps game, when we seemed to run out of steam a bit, have been the only times we haven’t really been competitive so far. The attacking style of play, led by the pace and trickery of Socino and Sinoti Sinoti, has been a revelation, and it’s actually fun to watch the Falcons in a way it rarely was last season.
Eight points ahead of London Welsh is perhaps more than we had hoped for at this stage, but then Welsh have been poor. Saturday at the Kassam was the first time in six games they have conceded below forty points this season, have scored just 47 points and conceded a massive 272 (we have the next-worst attack on 115, while the next-worst defence is Sale’s at 168). The Exiles’ points difference of minus 225, and they have nothing to show but a solitary try bonus point.
While we shouldn’t be complacent, if we continue to play as we have so far for most of the rest of the season, we shouldn’t have any relegation worries, even if Welsh do get it together by Christmas. I expect we will beat last season’s points total and challenge for tenth place if not ninth.
The key is to keep doing what has been working this season, and not fall back into the horrors of 2013/14.
So my summary of our first six games so far is – hit par, must keep improving.
(Follow The South Stand Choir on Twitter: @SouthStandChoir)