There were wins for Newcastle Falcons, Exeter Chiefs, Sale Sharks and Wasps in the Premiership matches taking place on Saturday.
Newcastle Falcons 11-10 Harlequins
Newcastle heaped further pressure on an under-performing Harlequins side as they edged out a narrow contest in the north east.
Sonatane Takulua’s boot and a try from the effervescent Vereniki Goneva ensured Newcastle got back to winning ways after a run of results that had seen them slide down the table following an impressive start.
Harlequins were always chasing the contest and it was Mike Brown who hauled them back when he crossed for a try early in the second 40 that Marcus Smith converted.
The Quins fly-half then notched a penalty to set up a tense finish by the result means Newcastle leapfrog their opponents who were above them prior to this match only on points difference.
Pens: Takulua 2
Northampton Saints 14-35 Exeter Chiefs
Northampton, without a win since September and now without a director of rugby, got little festive cheer as the champions came to town and were comfortable winners.
Looking to bounce back after consecutive defeats against Leinster, Exeter took the lead when Will Chudley went over after 10 minutes. Northampton hit back soon after when an excellent move ended with Ahsee Tuala going over with Piers Francis adding the extras.
Gareth Steenson continued to keep the scoreboard ticking from the tee and it wasn’t until the hour when the visitors got their second try. Sam Simmonds crashing over as he so often does with his partner in crime and elder statesman Thomas Waldrom doing likewise 10 minutes later.
The hosts did show some fight in front of their home faithful when Cobus Reinach dotted down but that was about as cheerful as it got in the midlands this afternoon. Exeter continued to plug away and replacement Jack Yeandle secured the bonus point when he crossed the whitewash with the clock in the red to leave the Chiefs firmly on top of the pile.
Tries: Tuala, Reinach
Cons: Francis 2
Yellow Cards: Foden, Van Wyk
Tries: Chudley, S Simmonds, Waldrom, Yeandle
Cons: Steenson 2, J Simmonds
Pens: Steenson 3
Sale Sharks 32-9 Bath
Bath were bought crashing back down to earth after last weekend’s memorable win over Toulon with a humbling defeat at Sale.
Rhys Priestland’s boot was all that graced the scoresheet where Bath were concerned whilst the home side ran riot in the second-half.
Josh Strauss was the first to go over for Sale after the referee had to consult the TMO with AJ MacGinty failing to convert his score.
Byron McGuigan was the next to go over for Sale just after the start of the second period when he combined well with MacGinty and James O’Connor. It was the Australian who then put the home side to within one try of the bonus point on the hour mark after the Sharks’ backs had combined excellently.
That score wasn’t far away with Will Cliff crashing over 10 minutes later after MacGinty had chipped through. The result earns Sale their third win on the bounce whilst putting Bath’s top four ambitions on hold until after Christmas.
Tries: Strauss, McGuigan, O’Connor, Cliff
Cons: MacGinty 3
Pens: MacGinty 2
Pens: Priestland 3
Wasps 49-24 Gloucester
Wasps secured a bonus-point rout over Gloucester in Coventry and in doing so leapfrogged them in the league table.
It was Gloucester’s first defeat in five games but they had no answer to Wasps relentless attack in the second-half.
South African Willie le Roux gave Wasps the lead when he went over in the corner but the visitors quickly wrestled back momentum when first Willi Heinz snipped over from close range before Mark Atkinson showed some great support play to put Gloucester up by seven.
Wasps responded through Christian Wade after some good work again by Le Roux but Gloucester still headed into the interval in the ascendancy after a great line from Tom Marshall sent him over.
The hosts then came out with a vengeance and Johan Ackermann’s men were on the receiving end. First Thomas Young was able to run over from halfway after a Wasps turnover to put them into the lead. Replacement Guy Thompson then secured the bonus point try to send the Ricoh Arena into party mood.
Gloucester did head west though with a bonus point after Freddie Clark crashed over from close range. From then on though the visitors were masters of their own downfall when first Dan Robson was able to intercept ten metres out to dot down against his former side. Then straight from the kick off Wade was allowed to catch and race over unopposed to end an immensely entertaining game.
Tries: Le Roux, Wade 2, Young, Thompson, Robson
Cons: Cipriani 5
Pens: Cipriani 3
Tries: Heinz, Atkinson, Marshall, Clarke
Cons: Twelvetrees 2