Aviva Premiership Round 9

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Bristol Rugby 16 Leicester Tigers 21

 

Ellis Genge scored for Leicester Tigers against his former club

Ellis Genge’s second-half score edged Leicester Tigers to a nervy 21-16 victory against Bristol Rugby to keep in touch with the Aviva Premiership Rugby top three.

It was a back and forth affair in the first period and Bristol had gone ahead through 20-year-old fly-half Billy Searle before Freddie Burns drew Richard Cockerill’s men level.

But Burns struck next and though Searle was on-song again, Ian Evans was sent to the sin bin and the Leicester No. 10’s fine cross-kick freed up Adam Thompstone to score the game’s first try.

Leicester continued their dominance after the break, Genge powering over from close range for a try against his old club before Rob Hawkins struck back for Bristol Rugby.

Jarvis converted and a second penalty from his boot set up a tense finish, Tigers held out to stay fourth in Aviva Premiership Rugby as Manu Tuilagi made a long-awaited comeback.

It took a stunning Owen Williams cover tackle to stop Rhodri Williams when the Bristol scrum-half broke free early doors.

Bristol poured forward as they sensed blood and though Tigers held firm, they conceded a penalty which Searle duly dispatched to put the hosts ahead.

Prop Gaston Cortes was carrying effectively and the entire Bristol pack looked galvanized by a large, raucous Ashton Gate Crowd.

But Peter Betham showed his cutting edge in hitting a fine hole to carve Bristol open after 15 minutes, Will Evans supporting well and when the hosts conceded a penalty, Burns slotted the penalty to make up for an earlier miss.

It was in-form Burns who took the game’s next points, the fly-half thudding a penalty over from right on the edge of his range after 35 minutes to put Tigers ahead for the first time.

A scintillating Tom Brady break from the kick off took Leicester deep into opposition territory only for a handling error to kill the promising attack with ten minutes in the half.

Centre Will Hurrell was growing into the game by the minute, his power causing serious problems in midfield for Tigers.

And it was from a trademark Hurrell barrelling run that Leicester gifted a penalty for young pivot Searle to bang over and level the scores.

Tigers had spurned numerous chances in the first-half, but Burns and Thompstone combined in a moment of real class for the game’s first try.

Welsh lock Evans had just been sent to the bin and Burns dropped a laser-guided crosskick into the path of Thompstone, the winger showing good footwork to finish – but Burns could not convert.

Tigers started by far the brighter after half time, Tom Youngs breaking from the initial maul to take Leicester deep into Bristol territory before prop Genge muscled over from close range against his former club for a converted try.

Jason Woodward saw yellow for a reckless challenge on the airborne Graham Kitchener and three minutes later Burns kicked a further penalty to extend Leicester’s lead

Bristol got a richly-deserved try when former tiger Hawkins crashed over following a yellow to Lachlan McCaffrey before Jarvis converted and followed it up with a second penalty.

Northampton Saints 16 Newcastle Falcons 22

 

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Niki Goneva’s late breakaway score saw Newcastle Falcons just edge out 14-man Northampton Saints to record a vital 22-16 away triumph at Franklin’s Gardens, and put an abrupt end to the hosts’ four-game winning run.

Dean Richards’ side led 8-3 at the break thanks to a try and a penalty from Joel Hodgson, but despite Stephen Myler’s penalty in response, the hosts had a mammoth task ahead of them when Kieran Brookes was sent off in the dying embers of the first half.

But while Northampton’s 1000th Aviva Premiership Rugby try – scored by Christian Day – remarkably sent them ahead, not even two more Myler penalties were enough as Will Witty and Goneva both scored in the final 20 minutes of the game.

The Falcons shot out of the traps and had the game’s first try after just four minutes – Hodgson crashing over the whitewash against his former teammates.

With Newcastle piling on the pressure, the No.10 started the move off and bypassed two players to find Goneva on the right wing and followed his pass, collecting a return ball from the Fijian before his momentum carried him over.

His conversion was wide however, and the Falcons took another blow just a few minutes later when they thought they had scored a second.

Goneva again was the danger man with a brilliant break – selling a dummy to the entire Saints backline before driving through the gap and sending a perfect pass out wide for Marcus Watson to score.

But the decision was overruled by the TMO with Juan Pablo Socino pinged for a block on Luther Burrell in the midfield.

And the Saints looked to take full advantage of their let off, with Myler knocking over their first points of the evening to make it 5-3 from the tee, after Ally Hogg was penalised from a line-out.

Socino had a couple of good touches in midfield, but Newcastle’s hearts were in their mouths on 25 minutes when Ben Foden beat Goneva to a loose ball to touch down – but the TMO again intervened with the full-back clearly knocking on at full stretch.

Approaching the half-hour mark a massive counter-ruck delivered a turnover and penalty for Falcons, but after kicking into the corner, Scott Lawson’s charge was halted by a resolute Saints defence who were able to clear.

The Falcons did eventually get some reward for their pressure when Mikey Haywood was penalised at the breakdown as David Wilson broke, and Hodgson made no mistake with the simple kick.

And the game was given an entirely different complexion for the second-half when Brookes saw red for a no-armed clear-out against his former club in the 38th minute.

However, Northampton defied their numerical disadvantage to take the lead for the first time in the match straight after the interval, Day dragging the Saints back into the equation after a meaty drive, and Myler adding a conversion from out wide.

Falcons were rocked, and the hosts made it ten unanswered points when Myler struck another penalty through the posts on 52 minutes after a scrum offense.

Two dazzling Watson breaks around the hour mark – that showed off the very best of his pace and power – gave Newcastle hope going forwards and took them into Saints’ 22.

And as his side battered away at the line, Will Witty finally broke through and silenced Franklin’s Gardens with a 63rd-minute try.

Myler penalty once again sent Northampton ahead in a topsy-turvy final quarter of an hour, but it was Goneva who was to have the final say.

The Fijian flyer poached an interception as scrum-half Tom Kessell looked for Jamie Elliott, and ran the length of the field to score the match-winning try on 74 minutes – with Hodgson adding the extras for good measure.

Exeter Chiefs 57 Worcester Warriors 22

 

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Exeter Chiefs scored eight tries as they eased past Worcester Warriors in an open and attacking Aviva Premiership Rugby match at Sandy Park.

The home side wasted no time in getting started as Jack Yeandle and Will Chudley scored first-half tries, while debutante referee Matthew O’Grady awarded a penalty try shortly after.

And in the second-half the floodgates opened as Olly Woodburn, Carl Rimmer, Thomas Waldrom, James Short and Ian Whitten each scored.

Worcester also improved after the break and went close to a bonus point themselves, as Josh Adams, Wynand Olivier and Dewald Potgieter all scored tries, to give the away fans something to shout about.

Exeter director of ruby Rob Baxter opted to keep an unchanged side, with Kai Horstmann retaining his place in the starting line-up.

And it paid dividends from the first whistle, as a powerful maul saw hooker and club captain Yeandle power over from close range.

Worcester handed first Aviva Premiership Rugby starts to academy duo Jack Singleton and Andrew Kitchener as injuries took hold, and they struggled to compete with the speed of Exeter’s game.

Fly-half Gareth Steenson added a penalty for the Chiefs from in front of the posts, and they added a second try shortly after.

Powerful back-row Waldrom went close after another set-piece but he was brought down metres short and scrum-half Chudley sneaked through a gap to score.

Worcester got on the board through a Jamie Shillcock penalty, but the Chiefs opened up a commanding lead from another driving maul.

Warriors lock Darren Barry was sin-binned for illegally bringing it down and referee O’Grady awarded a penalty try.

And the bonus point was confirmed shortly after half time as Chudley counter-attacked from deep after an impressive Warriors spell and he played it through for Woodburn to score.

That took the wind out of Worcester’s sails and the Chiefs took advantage as substitute prop Rimmer broke down Worcester’s defence after Exeter hammered away for several phases.

Waldrom, such an important part of Exeter’s attack, scored minutes later as he powered his way over before Worcester responded through in-form Adams.

But Short made sure their joy was short lived as the winger dotted down in the corner for the Chiefs seventh try.

The Warriors, who opened the game up even more late on, scored their second through Olivier before Whitten added his name to the scoresheet.

And the visitors rounded things off through Potgieter late on.

Saracens 24 Gloucester 20

 

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Aviva Premiership Rugby champions Saracens strengthened their position at the top of the table but they were pushed hard by a resurgent Gloucester Rugby side.

The Cherry and Whites, who ended a four-game Aviva Premiership Rugby winless streak with victory over Wasps last Saturday, enjoyed a perfect start with Ben Morgan going over inside 60 seconds.

They went on to lead 17-15 at the break too with Billy Burns try and James Hook’s penalty adding to their tally.

But Saracens also dotted down twice in the first-half through man of the match Brad Barritt and Mike Ellery to stay in touch before grinding out the win in the second-half thanks to three Alex Lozowski penalties – the Saracens man finishing the game with 14 points as his side recorded their 12th consecutive home win in all competitions.

Gloucester started on the front foot and were rewarded in the first minute as Morgan powered over to score after Saracens spilled the ball from kick off. Hook converted to make it 7-0.

But Sarries were level after just 11 minutes though as Barritt charged down Mark Atkinson’s kick and collected the loose ball to score under the posts.

Gloucester retook the lead after 14 minutes as another kick was dropped by Alex Goode and Billy Burns pounced to score with Hook converting again to make it 14-7.

The lead didn’t last long however as Ellery scored the fourth try of a breathless first-half just three minutes later following neat work from Goode and Schalk Brits, with Lozowski unable to kick the extras.

He was on target with a penalty on 22 minutes to edge the hosts in front before Goode’s last ditch tackle on Henry Purdy prevented a third Gloucester try.

However play was brought back for an earlier penalty and Hook scored to make it 17-15 to Gloucester, while the same man’s mammoth kick from inside his own half fell short to prevent the visitors from going further ahead on the stroke of half-time.

Gloucester had a great chance to add to their lead after 50 minutes as Burns broke away brilliantly but he got his attempted kick through to Purdy all wrong and the chance was wasted.

Gloucester were piling on the pressure and almost scored as Charlie Sharples broke down the right wing but a knock-on saved Sarries from falling further behind.

Lozowski put Saracens back into the lead after 57 minutes as he kicked a penalty from just inside the Gloucester half to make it 18-17.

And the game tilted back in Saracens favour as John Afoa was shown a yellow card and sent to the sin bin after 61 minutes for an infringement at the scrum.

Lozowski kicked another penalty three minutes later to stretch the home side’s lead after Josh Hohneck was penalised to make it 21-17 to Saracens.

Saracens conceded a penalty for not rolling away after 70 minutes and Hook’s kick was successful to reduce the deficit to just one point.

But Saracens came again and, after getting to within inches of the Gloucester line, strengthened their position with another Lozowski penalty.

Hook’s off-target effort from the tee with two minutes remaining saw any hopes of Gloucester’s trying to snatch a first ever victory at Allianz Park slip away, although they did at least leave with a losing bonus point.

 

Wasps 34 Sale Sharks 24

 

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Rob Miller scored two tries in as many minutes to get Wasps back to winning ways against a Sale Sharks side who refused to bow down to a Aviva Premiership Rugby defeat.

The visitors broke the deadlock when AJ MacGinty scored three from the tee in the opening stages of the game, before Danny Cipriani swung the game in Wasps’ favour with the first try of the afternoon.

Two tries from Ashley Johnson plus Miller’s brace ensured the spoils would be remaining at the Ricoh Arena, despite Bryn Evans scoring two of his own for the Sharks in the second half.

But thanks to Jimmy Gopperth’s expertise from the tee, Dai Young’s men were able to hold on to their lead for the bonus point win.

It was the visitors who took the initial lead when they won a penalty inside the half, allowing MacGinty to knock over for three points to capitalise on their early domination.

But their advantage wasn’t to last as Wasps weathered the storm to cross the whitewash two minutes later, Cipriani  with the honours against his old club following a fine break from Christian Wade and Thomas Young in the centre of the park, before Gopperth converted.

Gopperth added three more to his tally when the Sharks were penalised for offside inside their own 22, opting for the posts to extend Wasps’ advantage to 10-3.

The hosts’ continued pressure reaped its rewards when Johnson dotted down on 24 minutes, the try being awarded after facing a TMO, before Gopperth added the extras.

Johnson got his second score of the game five minutes before the interval when he stormed over the line following good play from Gopperth and Kyle Eastmond in the build-up, only for Cipriani to miss from the tee on his 150th Aviva Premiership Rugby appearance.

The Sharks came out after the break all guns blazing, and got their first try of the game just two minutes from the restart, Evans finding space to sprint 25 metres before crossing in the corner, with MacGinty adding two from the tee.

Wasps battled to regain control in the ensuing minutes, with the Sharks twice repelling their attacks before winning a penalty in their own 22, Cipriani clearing to take them to halfway.

Just after the hour mark, Wasps reinstated their 19-point gap when Miller beat his man to race over the line for the bonus point, before Gopperth added the conversion.

And Miller got his second just two minutes later when Dan Robson fed him the ball after breaking from a high ball to cross over, though Gopperth missed from the tee on this occasion.

But the visitors soon took the ball to the other end, adding another converted try of their own through Evans once more, who took advantage of a sliced chip from Cipriani to run over unchallenged.

Wasps were forced to run down the last five minutes of the game with 14 men after Wade was helped off the field by physios, making for a nervy ending when Mike Haley capitalised on a moment of weakness from the hosts to score under the posts, Tom Arscott

Harlequins 21 Bath Rugby 20

 

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Harlequins ensured their unbeaten home start to the Aviva Premiership Rugby campaign went on as Tim Swiel’s late penalty secured a dramatic finish against Bath Rugby.

The fly-half made no mistake despite the unenviable distance from the tee, kicking straight and true with just minutes to go at the Stoop as Bath fell to a second Aviva Premiership Rugby defeat of the season.

Tim Visser scored early on, but despite enjoying the better of the play, Quins struggled to make the scoreboard reflect their time in Bath’s 22.

And it was that which they almost rued come the break, Kane Palma-Newport’s score closing the gap to 11-10 at the break.

And while Karl Dickson and Nathan Catt exchanged tries, it was left to South African Swiel to seal the deal with just a couple of minutes remaining – a fifth win of the league season.

It seemed it would be a more comfortable game when Visser opened the scoring after just three minutes, making the most of a strong scrum as Nick Evans – on his 200th appearance – worked the ball nicely.

But with the game tight, Bath forced their way back when Semesa Rokoduguni collected to nearly run the length of the pitch, though an infringement allowed Tom Homer to dissect the posts.

That kick was soon traded by Swiel, then adding his tally five minutes later after Bath were caught offside.

But Palma-Newport ensured the visitors finished the half with a flourish, the prop marauding his way through, a try converted to narrow the margin.

It was momentum Bath were able to carry through to the second period, taking the lead when Homer kicked again from the tee following an offside.

But despite their possession, a quick Quins break saw the game to and fro once more, Dickson dotting down for a second try.

Catt then put Bath 20-18 ahead when he scored with less than 15 minutes on the clock, the TMO finding no reason not to award the try after a grounded ball, the subsequent conversion slotting in off the post.

And just as it seemed the points were lost, it was Swiel that came to the rescue for Harlequins when they won a penalty from distance, the fly-half converting with a straight kick that sailed over the posts to put them narrowly ahead on 21-20.

Still Bath were not to give up, jangling the nerves in the home camp with a missed kick into touch, though a loose turnover saw the home fans jubilant to see the ball sail into the Twickenham sky.

 

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