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Guinness Premiership hotting up, says Cozza

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What a weekend! As an Englishman and a Leicester Tiger, it's fair to say there have been better.

Added to that, I was persuaded to lace the boots once more for a charity match on Friday at the Stoop to play for the England Legends against the Irish. Not only did that match make it a hat-trick of defeats for me, but also I haven't been able to stand upright since!

The Guinness Premiership is hotting up beautifully now. With Leeds winning twice on the bounce all sides in the league are fighting for something. What will be worrying for sides looking down is that Leeds are not just winning now they are starting to score some points. As they have been in a dogfight all year they have developed a visible team ethic and they show every time they score a try how much it means to them and how up for a fight they are. Quins, Newcastle, Worcester and Sale will all be feeling the heat now. Of those, Newcastle and their inability to score and turn the pressure their forwards generate into points must feel particularly uneasy. They need to find a way to create more opportunities and not be totally reliant on Jimmy Gopperth's boot.

At the top of the table, Saracens have hit a stumbling block losing 4 of their last 5. They now have to move away from their 'territory at all costs' approach. It was working well for them but sides have become more aware of the way they play and now make sure they don't get caught behind the forwards and look to keep hold of the ball against them.

London Irish were hit hard by the suspension of their No. 8, Chris Hala'ufia, who provides Irish with their 'go forward, close in'. Now he's back their game has gone back to winning ways. The two sides who may have left their charge late are Bath and Gloucester. Bath have won 5 on the bounce which has coincided with their playmakers Butch James and Olly Barkley returning (although they look destined not to play together). Their real success however has stemmed from their forwards dominating the set piece and close quarter battles. Gloucester have found their power game with Lesley Vainikolo leading the charge.

Leicester lost the battle of the top two and the local gloating rights, but their aim will be to consolidate their position until the internationals and injured players return. Leicester have been in this position many times before and have learnt to rest players throughout the season so they have a fully fit and fresh squad come the play-offs. Northampton, who have been very consistent throughout the season, have developed a steely forward edge to go with their attacking flair but have used a small pool of players - as they are still in contention in 3 trophies the strain will take its toll unless it is carefully managed. 

Former Tigers and England captain Martin Corry was writing for his new Guinness Premiership blog. To read more of Corry's thoughts on the weekend's matches, the title race, his experience of his second Premiership Final in 2006 and his thoughts on England, visit the new Guinness Premiership blog site at http://premiershiprugby.blogspot.com/