Joe Harvey reviews the weekend’s Gallagher Premiership action, which began with Gloucester defeating champions Saracens on Friday night and ended with Worcester Warriors snatching a vital win against Leicester Tigers.
Gloucester 30 – 24 Saracens
In front of the television cameras, Gloucester pulled off another top of the table upset. Billy Twelvetrees started the scoring early on with a seventh minute penalty, with that score followed up by a converted try from Gloucester number eight, Ben Morgan.
The first half was brought to a close with three penalties, two for Gloucester and one for Sarries, kicked by Alex Lozowski.
?? The #GallagherPrem sides are on red alert ?? after @gloucesterrugby laid down another marker against @Saracens ??@edslater's try was an embodiment of the mounting pressure ?? and physicality ?? that the home team showcased— Premiership Rugby (@premrugby) February 23, 2019
What odds would you give them to make the final??? pic.twitter.com/rIW3fxo3KI
Gloucester started strongly in the second half too. An Ed Slater try was converted by Twelvetrees, before Saracens finally got over the whitewash through England-qualified flanker, Michael Rhodes. Lozowski converted.
Gloucester gathered their final points with thanks to Ben Morgan again. Twelvetrees converted the try. Sarries did put up a late fight in an attempt to take something from the game and tries from Matt Gallagher and Jackson Wray were both converted by Lozowski, meaning Saracens went back to St Albans with a losing bonus point.
Harlequins 36 – 26 Bristol Bears
Things got off to a good start at the Stoop for Bristol as Charles Piutau raced over to give Callum Sheedy an early shot at the posts, but Quins hit back as Ross Chisholm crossed and Marcus Smith converted. Alapati Leiua and Smith then traded efforts, Smith converting his own.
Quins pulled away from their visitors just before the break from Mike Brown and Joe Marchant were warmly welcomed by the west-London faithful. The second half wasn’t quite so free flowing. Bristol finally broke the deadlock 20 minutes after the interval as Sheedy converted his own try, before being replaced by Ian Madigan.
Replacement for Harlequins, James Lang, would kick a penalty for Paul Gustard’s side just prior to Nathan Earle’s try, that Lang would also convert. Bristol would have the final say through a second Leiua effort, that Madigan duly converted, but it was another victory for Quins.
Wasps 18 – 24 Sale Sharks
Sale got back to winning ways after their heavy defeat to Northampton last time out. Rob Webber scored early on for Steve Diamond’s side, Faf de Klerk converting with ease. De Klerk was in action again 10 minutes later, this time converting Denny Solomona’s score.
#WASvSAL | @WaspsRugby 18-24 Sale Sharks #GallagherPrem— Sale Sharks?? (@SaleSharksRugby) February 24, 2019
Dimes on #YourSharks performance, in this weekend's victory over Wasps.
Read the full match report here ?? https://t.co/DsQJvFb7Mz#SharkTime pic.twitter.com/8lYkdCdBaY
Wasps were next on the scoresheet, Ashley Johnson was bundled over the whitewash, but Sopoaga was unable to add the extra two points. But Sopoaga would make amends for his earlier error, kicking a penalty just prior to half time. De Klerk would end the half with a penalty of his own.
Wasps were clearly in the mood after half time, charging out of the blocks for departing scrum-half Joe Simpson to score for Dai Young’s side, Sopoaga converted. Sale then took control of the game once more, referee Andrew Jackson awarded the side a penalty try, then identified Nizaam Carr as the man at fault and sinbinned the South African. Rob Miller would score the games final points with a 73rd minute penalty, but this was a good response by Sale.
Exeter Chiefs 35 – 17 Newcastle Falcons
Yet another nail in the coffin of Dean Richards’ side as they travelled to Exeter to be defeated. Santiago Cordero opened the scoring with a try, his effort was converted by Gareth Steenson and the fly-half was in action again 10 minutes later, converting Jack Yeandle’s try.
Newcastle were briefly back into contention with a Tane Takulua effort that Toby Flood converted. Exeter ended the half with an Olly Woodburn try, that Steenson converted, to give Rob Baxter’s side a dominant 21-7 halftime lead.
The second half was far more even, Nic White raced over to extend Chiefs’ lead, Steenson converting. Newcastle’s Zach Kibirige got over in the corner, meaning that Flood was unable to convert, but Greg Holmes hit back with another converted score to keep Exeter in control.
Kibirige did round off the scoring with another try that would be unconverted as Newcastle remain at the foot of the division.
Northampton Saints 27 – 26 Bath Rugby
The first half of this game was a touch unexciting, with the highlight being James Grayson’s penalty for Northampton and Ruaridh McConnochie’s converted try on the 30-minute mark. The second half was far more exciting, with Northampton taking the spoils at the final whistle.
Rory Hutchinson scored an acrobatic try for Chris Boyd’s side, following a Rhys Priestland penalty, with Grayson giving Saints the lead with the conversion. Zach Mercer’s converted try put Bath briefly ahead. A Grayson penalty was followed by one from Priestland, then two tries for Saints put them in front.
Alex Mitchell and David Ribbans both had their efforts converted, the Ribbans try winning the game as Rhys Priestland had scored two penalties in between the two scores. Another strong win for the Saints.
Worcester Warriors 17 – 13 Leicester Tigers
Matt Toomua opened the scoring in this tie with a 14th minute penalty, following a scrappy start at Sixways. Just under nine minutes later, Duncan Weir, who wasn’t needed by Gregor Townsend in Paris, levelled the scoring with a penalty of his own.
Moving on ?? pic.twitter.com/dEA6X18K41— Worcester Warriors ?? (@WorcsWarriors) February 25, 2019
Tigers scored the first try too, Welsh wing Jonah Holmes went over for Geordan Murphy’s side, giving Toomua another opportunity to extend the lead from the tee. The scores were made even just after half time when Francois Hougaard spotted a gap in the Tigers defence. Weir drew things level with the conversion.
Leicester took a narrow lead 65 minutes in, 19-year-old fly-half Tom Hardwick slotting the penalty. However, there would be a final twist in the tale. Worcester wing Tom Howe, formerly of Wasps, was put over to give Warriors a slender advantage 78 minutes in, Weir converted the score to confirm Worcester’s third victory over Tigers this season.
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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.
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