Sale Sharks proved too strong for Worcester Warriors at the AJ Bell Stadium and Newcastle Falcons claimed a narrow win over Gloucester at Kingston Park.
Sale 36-26 Worcester
AJ Bell Stadium
Sam James’ early try was countered by Francois Hougaard in a thrilling first 15 at the AJ Bell Stadium. Joe Taufete’e put Warriors ahead for the first time, but James’ second and Mike Haley’s effort put Sale 21-14 up at the break.
Byron McGuigan stretched the lead but a yellow card to Halani Aulika allowed Worcester back in, with Chris Pennell going over in the final 10 minutes. Ben Curry sealed the win though, with a late try from Biyi Alo grabbing a bonus point for Warriors as they fell to a 36-26 loss.
Looking for their first win on Sharks soil since 2008, Worcester didn’t start in the best way as James went through six minutes in.
Denny Solomona sped beyond the chasing Worcester defenders and fed it to Sale’s 13, whose try was awarded after the TMO checked it over. AJ MacGinty added the extras as the hosts produced a powerful opening.
But Worcester recovered quickly and Hougaard was the man who found a gap in the back line to level the scores. Perry Humphreys kicked things off with his break, Ben Te’o helped him out and Hougaard finished the job, allowing Mills to convert and make it 7-7.
The visitors were getting on top and took the lead courtesy of Taufete’e. Having denied Sale in the maul, a drive forward had the hosts on the back foot and Taufete’e crashed over, Mills converting again.
But despite being on top, Worcester squandered the lead as James grabbed his second and Sale’s 1000th try in the Premiership. 10 phases came and went before James found the line, the recipient of a kind deflection to make it 14-14.
Sharks took a lead into the break as they got their third try right on half-time. Haley’s run from 30 yards was timed to perfection and he pierced the Worcester defence to go through, providing a 21-14 lead.
Neither side started the second 40 well, with kicking the order of the first 10 minutes in a spell of little quality. Sale almost went through as the livewire Haley again bore down on the line, but a challenge and subsequent knock on stopped Warriors minor panic. And it was Worcester’s turn to go close.
They thought they’d gone over through Perry Humphreys, but the TMO’s countless replays proved he was held up inches away. And the action went straight up the other end as Sale made it 26-14.
McGuigan worked some magic in the build up, having been left with little avenues to go down after being fed possession by Josh Beaumont. Going it alone, he chipped beyond Chris Pennell, collected and crashed down for the most improbable of tries. The bonus point was secured and the conversion went through.
Halani Aulika was sent to the sin-bin though, which gave Worcester just a glimmer of hope of getting back into it.
And they took that opportunity with both hands in Aulika’s absence. Pennell went through after being shown up at the other end, finishing Ryan Lamb’s searching long pass.
Lamb was on hand to convert but MacGinty’s penalty maintained an eight point gap between the sides as they headed into the final five.
And it was job done when the fifth try came in. Curry added a bit of spice to the night with a wonderful try, muscling his way over having stolen the ball and finishing any worries the Sharks may have had in the process.
A late yellow to Mike Phillips meant they only had 14 at the end, but it mattered little. Worcester had the final say with another try, Alo the man with ball in hand as bodies flew over the line.
Tries: James 2, Haley, McGuigan, B Curry
Cons: MacGinty 4
Yellow Cards: Aulika, Phillips
Try: Hougaard, Taufete’e, Pennell, Alo
Cons: Mills 2, Lamb
Sale Sharks: 15 Mike Haley, 14 Denny Solomona, 13 Sam James, 12 Mark Jennings, 11 Byron McGuigan, 10 AJ MacGinty, 9 Mike Phillips, 8 Josh Beaumont (c), 7 Tom Curry, 6 Cameron Neild, 5 Andrei Ostrikov, 4 Bryn Evans, 3 Halani Aulika, 2 Rob Webber, 1 Ross Harrison
Replacements: 16 Ben Curry, 17 Jake Pope, 18 Kieran Longbottom, 19 George Nott, 20 Laurence Pearce, 21 James Mitchell, 22 Sam Bedlow, 23 Josh Charnley
Worcester Warriors: 15 Chris Pennell, 14 Perry Humphreys, 13 Jackson Willison, 12 Ben Te’o, 11 Josh Adams, 10 Ryan Mills,9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Marco Mama, 7 Sam Lewis, 6 Chris Vui, 5 Will Spencer, 4 Donncha O’Callaghan (c), 3 Nick Schonert, 2 Joe Taufete’e, 1 Ryan Bower
Replacements: 16 Jaba Bregvadze, 17 Ryan Grant, 18 Biyi Alo, 19 Darren Barry, 20 Dewald Potgieter, 21 Luke Baldwin, 22 Ryan Lamb, 23 Wynand Olivier
Referee: Matthew Carley
Assistant Referees: Hamish Smales, Wayne Falla
TMO: Trevor Fisher
Newcastle 16–14 Gloucester
Juan Pablo Socino put Falcons ahead midway through the first half with the opener, but tries either side of the break from Jonny May and Tom Marshall turned the scoreline in favour of Gloucester.
Falcons had chances to go back ahead but it looked like the game had gone. That was until Joel Hodgson’s ice-cool penalty at the death turned the scoreline around and gave Falcons the 16-14 win.
Both teams came into this one in indifferent form, with Newcastle hoping to complete the double over Gloucester for the first time in five seasons.
A quick opening produced no points, mainly thanks to a try-saving challenge from Micky Young blocking Charlie Sharples route to the line. Mike Delany’s post hitting penalty was the closest either side came to breaking the deadlock in the first quarter of an hour.
Socino thought he’d opened the scoring with a try, but the TMO cut his celebrations short. But he didn’t have too long to wait before getting himself and his side onto the scoreboard.
Only moments after the disappointment, the Argentine nipped over from a couple of yards out after Gloucester failed to withstand Falcons pressing. Delany made it a seven point lead and it was the least his side deserved.
But Gloucester levelled three minutes past the 40 as May went through to get the visitors back on terms. It was their first decent attack and the influential Willi Heinz passed into the arms of May, who evaded two challenges to go through. Billy Twelvetrees’ two saw the sides go in at 7-7.
Falcons retook the lead after half-time, with Joel Hodgson’s penalty putting them three points ahead. The lead didn’t last though as Gloucester went right up the other end after earlier being saved by the TMO, this time they were helped by him.
Marshall hunted down his own kick and was adjudged to have made it there in time, Twelvetrees converting again to give the visitors their first lead of the night.
The second half was scrappy but a Hodgson three pointer cut the gap down to a single point as the final 10 minutes remained finely balanced for either side to nick the win.
It was a nervy ending for Gloucester who were denied a try after Tom Denton went over, replays showing he spilt the ball in the process. And a yellow to Lloyd Evans for a high tackle leaving them a man light for the final moments.
Falcons had chances and had Sinoti Sinoti not thrown a pass straight out of play, things could have finished very differently. But despite knocking on in the final moments, Newcastle were given one last chance in the form of a penalty.
And with everything on the shoulders of Hodgson, he kept his nerve to give Falcons a 16-14 victory with the final kick.
Pens: Hodgson 3
Tries: May, Marshall
Cons: Twelvetrees 2
Yellow Cards: Evans
Wasps steal it at the death
Wasps scored a try at the death to claim a 32-30 victory over the Northampton Saints at the Ricoh Arena on Sunday.
The visitors looked dominant throughout and looked as though they had the game in the bag before Matt Mullan was pushed over the line through a maul.
Wasps extend their lead at the top of the table after the win while Saints stay at seventh place.
Northampton got an early lead on their rivals after a 12 minute try from Ben Foden with Stephen Myler neatly knocking over a penalty just beforehand.
Wasps would be out to rock the boat quickly though as Elliot Daly scored after using his searing pace to get over the line for his side with New Zealander Jimmy Gopperth adding the extras to catch up to the leaders making the score 8-7.
Saints would then pull the scoreline away from the hosts after Alex Waller scored another which was a blow for Wasps who were confident after crossing the whitewash.
Myler missed the conversion which would prove costly to the visitor’s lead with Gopperth knocking over two successive penalties making the score 13-13 all, the first time the score had come so close in the game.
Saints would go into the lead at half time after some clever play sent flyer George North over in the corner making the half-time score 18-13.
Wasps got out of the blocks first in the second half after a break from Ashley Johnson led to the ball being swung down field to the ever-industrious Christian Wade who chipped the ball over the defence, the bounce favoured him and the winger dotted down equaling the score before Gopperth took his side into the lead for first time. And then again when Joe Simpson scored with Gopperth kicking the conversion.
The Saints closed the gap on the Wasps after they took the ball to the line and after swinging wide to North who passed to full-back Ahsee Tuala who dotted down in the corner.
Saints flanker Teimana Harrison then grabbed the lead after he received a short pass from off the shoulder of his inside man and went over under the posts.
It didn’t take long for Wasps to get back in the game after they used some great handling to swing the ball wide before Kurtley Beale gave off a great pop pass for Willie le Roux to score. But the try was called off after the referee deemed it was a forward pass.
Wasps snatched the game at the death though after sustained pressure from the hosts resulted in Mullan barging over in a maul with Gopperth winning the game with a conversion in the 82nd minute.
Tries: Daly, Wade, Simpson, Mullan
Cons: Gopperth 3
Pens: Gopperth 2
For Northampton Saints:
Tries: Foden, North, Tuala, Harrison
Saracens score four past Quins
Saracens 40-19 Harlequins
Four tries and 20 points from the boot of Owen Farrell were enough for Saracens to dispatch Harlequins at Wembley.
After a fairly quiet open ten minutes, it was Harlequins who opened the scoring with a penalty from the boot of Nick Evans.
However, it would be Saracens who grabbed the first try of the game, Chris Ashton chasing down a kick through from Alex Goode to dive on the ball.
Mark McCall’s men double their score on 25 minutes when Schalk Brits powered over at the back of a driving maul.
Evans kept the scoreboard ticking over for Quins with his second and third penalties to keep them within five.
Farrell added a penalty either side of half time to keep Saracens ahead just before the break. The ever-reliable Evans kicked another three points for Harlequins as they tried to keep pace.
The fly-half’s continued to exchange blows, Farrell this time adding another penalty on the hour mark.
The metronomic Farrell kept the points coming with his fourth penalty, and the game appeared to be slipping away from Quins.
Saracens delivered the killer blow in the final ten minutes with a try from Michael Rhodes to take the result beyond doubt.
Quins did give themselves a glimmer of hope when James Horwill crashed over for their first try, but it was too late to bridge the gap.
There was still time for Saracens to secure the bonus point try, Goode finishing off a simple overlap to ensure that Saracens would be leaving Wembley with the maximum five points.
Tries: Ashton, Brits, Rhodes, Goode
Cons: Farrell 4
Pens: Farrell 4
Pens: Evans 4