We have reached the halfway mark in the Gallagher Premiership and it was another gripping weekend in Round 12, which saw Sale Sharks claim an excellent win against Saracens as well as Worcester Warriors' dramatic victory over Bath.
Joe Harvey reviews the action for TRU...
Sale Sharks 24 – 18 Saracens
Sale pulled off an upset underneath the Friday night lights, condemning Saracens to their second loss in three games. Sarries started the stronger, with a converted Billy Vunipola score just over five minutes into the game.
?? MATCH ACTION | ?? Sale Sharks 24-18 @Saracens ?? #GallagherPrem. A bit more match action from Friday night for you, because why wouldn’t we!? #SharkTime #SharksByName @UKFast pic.twitter.com/qX61MgDNM0— Sale Sharks?? (@SaleSharksRugby) January 6, 2019
Owen Farrell and Robert du Preez would then trade one penalty each before two Sharks tries. Sam James and England wing Denny Solomona both crossed the whitewash to give Steve Diamond’s side a strong lead, du Preez converted one of the scores.
Going into half-time, both sides would score another penalty each, but Farrell would find himself in the sinbin on the 35th minute.
The second half was a more subdued affair, with Sale really holding on at times to take away the win. Two Robert du Preez penalties solidified the Sale advantage, with Saracens finishing the game on a high with a Nick Tompkins try, giving the reigning champions a losing bonus point.
Exeter Chiefs 14 – 9 Bristol Bears
Well, this game won’t live long in the memory. Exeter were back to winning ways, despite a slow start at Sandy Park. Ian Madigan scored an early penalty which was dwarfed at half time after Santiago Cordero’s converted try.
Madigan scored two more penalties in the second half, but the Exeter win was confirmed when former Principality Premiership player Sean Lonsdale registered his effort. Joe Simmonds converted his teammates try, giving Exeter the points.
Leicester Tigers 34 – 16 Gloucester Rugby
In a much more exciting affair, Leicester Tigers humbled Gloucester at Welford Road, largely thanks of an excellent George Ford display. In the first half alone, Ford would kick two penalties and convert Jonny May’s 10th minute score. In this time, all Gloucester could muster was two Billy Twelvetrees penalties.
Not one, but two hand offs from @Gs_Evans to cross for @gloucesterrugby ?— Premiership Rugby (@premrugby) January 6, 2019
Did the Cherry and Whites deserve more against @LeicesterTigers?
Watch all the #GallagherPrem highlights on Monday at 7pm on @channel5_tv ?? pic.twitter.com/CjNl42LuMw
Leicester carried their pressure into the second half. Jonah Holmes, Jonny May and Ford would cross the try-line for Leicester, Ford converting each of the scores as well. Gloucester also increased their tally through a converted Gareth Evans effort amidst the Leicester onslaught, but the overriding feeling was the Cherry and Whites severely missed Danny Cipriani’s creativity.
Newcastle Falcons 17 – 38 Harlequins
Another loss keeps Newcastle at the foot of the Premiership table, more worryingly the defeat came at Kingston Park at the hands of Harlequins.
Quins began the rout early on as Max Crumpton scored just three minutes in, with Marcus Smith adding the extras upon request. Nathan Earle, Gabriel Ibitoye and Jack Clifford all provided tries of their own, Ibitoye’s being particularly eye-catching. Smith converted each effort while Newcastle could only get on the scoresheet via the boot of Brett Connon.
Newcastle would be more competitive in the second half, but to no avail. Vereniki Goneva and local boy Callum Chick crossed into the in-goal area to give a cold Kingston Park something to cheer about. Like his opposite number Smith, Connon added the extras with apparent ease.
Quins had already secured the win, but yet another converted Alex Dombrandt score, who is really making a name for himself in his debut Premiership season, put the icing on the cake.
Worcester Warriors 21 – 19 Bath Rugby
Unique. That’s probably the best way to describe this game. Worcester picked up their fourth Premiership win of the season as Bath finished the game with only 11 players on the field.
Bath scored all their points in the first half via four Freddie Burns penalty kicks which were backed up by a converted Zach Mercer try, with Worcester only putting up points from a sole Duncan Weir kick.
?? Ice cold ?? pic.twitter.com/xhbBClXApc— Worcester Warriors ?? (@WorcsWarriors) January 6, 2019
Now the second half is where things get a touch complicated. Bryce Heem got Worcester back in the game before Weir kicked a penalty. What followed was nothing short of chaotic.
Bath’s replacement hooker Ross Batty was red carded after just eight minutes for a dangerous neck roll at the ruck and Weir took the points on that occasion.
It was a very long ‘final’ drive from Worcester that saw Bath substitutes Max Lahiff, Lucas Noguera and Aled Brew, all sinbinned. With all the extra space, Weir sent Heem over to equalise the scores, nearly 20 minutes after the clock had turned red and Weir nailed the conversion. Nerves of steel.
Wasps 27 – 16 Northampton Saints
Wasps registered their second win in 14 games by beating Northampton at the Ricoh Arena. Josh Bassett scored in the corner to give Lima Sopoaga a difficult conversion, but the All Black rose to the occasion. Dan Biggar would kick a penalty just one minute before another Wasps try.
Juan de Jongh ghosted through the Saints defence, giving Sopoaga another two points from the tee.
The mightily impressive Fraser Dingwall would cross the whitewash for Northampton as the Saints hit back with Biggar converting the young Englishman’s effort.
Biggar slotted two more penalties before half-time and Sopoaga scored one as well to keep Wasps ahead.
The home side were able to confirm their win in the second-half following a Willie le Roux try, that was converted by Sopoaga and the New Zealander also landed a penalty. A good day at the office for Dai Youngs’ men.
Widely regarded as the most competitive rugby union league in the world...it can only be the Gallagher Premiership.
12 teams compete in the league over a season, playing every team both home and away, before four move into the playoffs and one is relegated.
The division is becoming more and more exciting as each year passes by so who will be lifting silverware at Twickenham in May?
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