Gallagher Premiership report card: Exeter, Saracens top of the class as Newcastle fail

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Saracens beat Exeter last weekend to clinch their fourth Premiership title in five seasons.

Here, we grade the performances of all 12 teams in the competition.

BATH

2018/19 record: Won 10, Draw 2 Lost 10

Another mixed season for a talented team sprinkled with seasoned internationals. It was a tale of inconsistencies and missed opportunities as Todd Blackadder’s side finished sixth and scraped into the Champions Cup for next season. With the Kiwi set to depart the club, can new coach Stuart Hooper turn around fortunes at the Rec next season?

Grade: C

BRISTOL

2018/19 record: Won 9, Draw 1, Lost 12

A cracking first season back in the Premiership. The Ashton Gate outfit may have finished ninth, and 20 points off relegation, but were only a bonus-point win away from finishing fourth, such was the close gap between the middle teams. If late kicks were converted against Sale and Worcester, they could have qualified for a semi-final.

Grade: B-

EXETER

2018/19 record: Won 17, Lost 5

Exact same record as last season and exact same finish. Runners-up to Saracens. Rob Baxter’s side will be disappointed with their European form, but showed no signs of wilting on the domestic stage, reaching a fourth consecutive final. For a team once considered average, there is so much to admire about their rise to the top of English rugby.

Grade: A-

GLOUCESTER

2018/19 record: Won 13, Draw 1, Lost 8

Johan Ackermann’s men were one of the teams of the season, reaching the league semi-finals and looking like a vibrant force for much of the campaign. It was the club’s best finish for eight seasons before losing to European champions Saracens in a one-sided last four clash. Boasted the league’s finet player in Danny Cipriani.

Grade: B+

HARLEQUINS

2018/19 record: Won 10, Lost 12

A vast improvement upon last season. The one disappointment will be that they looked odds-on to secure a play-off spot for most of the season, but finished poorly with six defeats in their last seven games. In Alex Dombrandt, ‘Quins had one of the stand-out players of the season.

Grade: C+

LEICESTER

2018/19 record: Won 7, Lost 15

A poor season for Geordan Murphy and Co. One of the worst years in the club’s history saw them finish 11th and fortunate not to be relegated. Mike Ford is a significant addition to the coaching ticket, but removing Murphy will not be the answer to their problems if the struggle continues. The board needs to be held accountable for some poor appointments and terrible squad recruitment.

Grade: D

NEWCASTLE

2018/19 record: Won 6, Lost 16

A disastrous campaign for a team that reached the semi-finals the previous season. The Toon outfit suffered relegation after winning just six matches. Will be hoping to push for championship promotion straight away.

Grade: F

NORTHAMPTON

2018/19 record: Won 11, Lost 11

Saints were in a bad place 12 months ago, finishing 10th in the Premiership, without a director of rugby and with a squad who had forgotten what it was like to produce consistent and winning rugby. For them to respond so effectively this season and reach the last four is a credit to the hard work of the players and coaching staff.

Grade: B+

SALE

2018/19 record: Won 11, Draw 2, Lost 9

The Manchester side will be disappointed to have missed out on Champions Cup qualification, finishing eighth in the table. Poor
defeats against Newcastle and Leicester cost them a place in the top-five, but to see highly-rated Tom Curry step up another level is something for the Sharks to be excited about.

Grade: C

SARACENS

2018/19 record: Won 16, Lost 6

The Men in Black are comfortably the best club team in the game, winning a fourth domestic title in five years. With the signing of Elliot Daly from Wasps, it is hard to see the North London side relinquish their European or league crowns any time soon. Boast the best attacking record and second best defensive record. An immovable force.

Grade: A+

WASPS

2018/19 record: Won 10, Lost 12

A major rebuilding project will continue this summer as 12 players depart the Ricoh Arena, including key men Nathan Hughes, Willie le Roux and Daly. Head coach Dai Young has the backing of the board but performances look way off two seasons ago when they reached the league final. The Coventry side drop into the European second-tier competition for the first time since the 2013/14 season.

Grade: C

WORCESTER

2018/19 record: Won 9, Lost 13

The Warriors endured a poor season despite two more wins than their 2017/18 campaign. Their attacking and defensive record was worse also. However, they finished season strongly with three wins in last four games, including a narrow home victory over champion Saracens.

Grade: D

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