Harlequins, Gloucester, Saracens and Newcastle secured wins over Northampton, Sale, Worcester and London Irish respectively in Premiership action on Saturday
Quins battered Northampton in the “Big Game 10” at Twickenham whilst Saracens won a high scoring affair against Worcester. Gloucester returned to winning ways at Kingsholm with London Irish still without a win since round one after Newcastle left Berkshire victorious.
Gloucester 20-16 Sale Sharks
16 points from Sale Sharks fly-half AJ MacGinty wasn’t enough to earn the visitors back-to-back wins as it was Gloucester who returned to winning ways.
Having had they winning run ended at the Ricoh Arena last weekend, Gloucester, back in front of their Kingsholm faithful, emerged victorious thanks for tries from David Halaifonua and Ben Vellacott.
Sale had led for much of the contest with three MacGinty penalties putting them 9-7 up at half-time after Halaifonua’s try was converted by Billy Twelvetrees.
Gloucester put themselves back the ascendancy shortly after the interval when Vellacott scored an opportunistic try courtesy of his forwards efforts. However Sale’s number 10 then scored a try to accompany his earlier penalties thanks to some quick thinking by Faf de Klerk.
A little over 10 minutes later though and the lead changed hands once again after two Twelvetrees penalties in the space of seven minutes put Johan Ackermann’s men in the lead by four points handing them the win and Sale a losing bonus point.
Tries: Halaifonua, Vellacott
Cons: Twelvetrees 2
Pens: Twelvetrees 2
Pens: MacGinty 3
London Irish 15-20 Newcastle
London Irish’s surge to the Premiership’s exit door is gathering momentum after Newcastle left Reading with victory thanks to three first-half tries.
Last weekend’s loss to fellow strugglers Worcester Warriors meant things at the Madejski were look precarious and this loss does little to change the mood.
Greig Tonks’ boot had initially put London Irish three points up after he notched two penalties to Toby Flood’s one, but two tries in three minutes from Falcons wing Alex Tait turned the contest on its head.
The first courtesy of a charge down which allowed him to dot down and the second owing much to Juan Pablo Socino who teed the winger up courtesy of a cross field kick that allowed him to race over unopposed.
Shortly before the interval Vereniki Goneva was able to walk over the try line when a Newcastle driving maul had the Irish defence going backwards.
That was where the point scoring ended for the visitors, but fortunately for them the hosts could only muster a further two Tonks penalties. The boot of the fullback did earn London Irish a losing bonus point but it does little to help their cause.
For London Irish:
Pens: Tonks 5
Tries: Tait 2, Goneva
Saracens 46-31 Worcester Warriors
Saracen’s efforts to put their worst run of form for 15 years behind them continued with victory in a high scoring affair against Worcester.
10 tries were scored in Barnet with the European champions notching six of them to help their charge towards a bonus point win. Although it was Worcester who scored the first try of the contest when Josh Adams went over allowing Chris Pennell to convert.
10 minutes later though the home side had their first try of the afternoon when Ben Spencer went over on the corner. Saracens continued to press and were rewarded again shortly after when, after some sustained pressure on the Worcester line, Sean Maitland scored.
Owen Farrell and Pennell traded penalties to leave the score 17-10 with the interval approaching but Worcester managed to draw level before the whistle blew. A well worked move allowed Sam Lewis to go over with Pennell adding the extras.
Ten minutes into the second period and Farrell’s boot put Saracens back in front. Two tries in the space of five minutes then appeared to take the game away from the visitors as Jackson Wray crossed twice. Both instances saw the back-rower snipe over from close range.
David Denton then pulled the Warriors back into the contest as he crossed for a try that Pennell converted. However that hope was short lived as Nathan Earle’s good week continued after he was named in the England squad. On two occasions the winger finding the space to race over for a quick brace.
With the clock in the red Jamie Shillcock ensured that Worcester did not return north empty handed as he crossed for their fourth try which did little to change the scoreline, but could still prove crucial.
Tries: Spencer, Maitland, Wray 2, Earle 2
Cons: Farrell 5
Pens: Farrell 2
Tries: Adams, Lewis, Denton, Shillcock
Cons: Pennell 4
Harlequins 50-21 Northampton Saints
Northampton suffered their 11th straight defeat in major competitions as Harlequins battered them in the annual “Big Game 10” at Twickenham.
Morale in and around Franklin’s Gardens in low and this performance will have done little to lift the mood as they were outclassed in every department from minute one.
Quins captain Dave Ward was first to cross in the rout as he evaded the tackle of Saints full-back Harry Mallinder to go over. Wingers Charlie Walker and Tim Visser both then crossed shortly after; the first running an excellent support line to go over from close range and Visser racing over unopposed after Marcus Smith had put him in the clear.
The bonus point score was secured before the interval when Danny Care drew the attention of the Saints defence to snipe over. Smith converted all four scores and added a penalty as Harlequins went in at half-time 31-0 up.
It must have been a sense of deja vú for Northampton after they were behind by a similar scoreline in round one against Saracens at Twickenham. Visser added his second two minutes later but that try seemed to wake Northampton up, if only slightly.
Rob Horne crossed from close range before Nic Groom did likewise. But Quins wrestled back the momentum when Care went diving over to score their sixth before Mat Luamanu put them in seventh heaven.
Mike Haywood rounded off an entertaining yet immensely one sided contest when he was the beneficiary of a well organised Northampton driving maul but things for the visitors continue to get darker and darker.
Tries: Ward, Walker, Care 2, Visser 2, Luamanu
Cons: Smith 5
Tries: Horne, Groom, Haywood
Cons: Myler 3