As the attention turns to European rugby this week, it's time to take a look back at the latest Gallagher Premiership action from Round Six with Joe Harvey.
Bath Rugby 24 – 39 Exeter Chiefs
Bath put up a good display against Exeter, but like every team to come up against the Chiefs this season, they were beaten. Last year’s runners-up came into this game after resoundingly beating Worcester six days earlier, but had lost regular starters Sam Simmonds and Jonny Hill to long-term injury.
With this said though, it was Bath who got on the scoreboard first. Freddie Burns slotted the first of his four penalty kicks in the 11th minute. Bath continued their good start when fly-half Rhys Priestland crossed over the line, giving Burns another two points.
Exeter’s resurgence began soon after. They were forced to kick their second penalty of the season, before scrum-half Stu Townsend brought the sides into close contention with a try. Steenson duly converted his half-back partners score.
?? Hands up if you've got 1500 points in @premrugby— Heineken Champions Cup (@ChampionsCup) October 6, 2018
A big night for @steeno10 yesterday as he kicked his way to a milestone in @ExeterChiefs' win over @bathrugby
?? What's your prediction for the Chiefs in their Heineken #ChampionsCup opener against @Munsterrugby next week? pic.twitter.com/PNsOnpWYyg
Just after another Bath penalty, Don Armand crossed the line to push the away side back in front, but Steenson couldn’t convert the England internationals score.
The start of the second half wasn’t exactly fluid. Burns’ penalty was shortly followed by one from Steenson, then star winger Semesa Rokodugni was sinbinned for Bath within 10 minutes of the second half starting.
Exeter were unable to use the sin-binning to their advantage, but after both sides were brought back to full strength, the Chiefs came into their own. Matt Kvesic and Ian Whitten both scored before a scintillating effort from Jack Nowell. These three tries were converted by Steenson, giving Bath little hope of a revival.
Bath did hit back though as scrum-half Chris Cook raced over for a try of his own, but the conversion was missed. Exeter were reduced to 14 men for the remaining five minutes, but the travelling players did really well to nullify the attempts of Bath.
Northampton Saints 15 – 23 Leicester Tigers
Going into the game at Twickenham, a lot of people were backing Northampton for a terrific win in honour of their former teammate Rob Horne. However, in reality, it wasn’t one of the most exciting matches that these two sides have shared in recent times.
Leicester were far more clinical than we have seen over the last few seasons. Opting to kick in just the third minute, Leicester weren’t going to let the emotion of the day get to them.
George Ford’s penalty was swiftly followed by former Tiger Jamie Gibson’s effort. The ball surrounded by a group of players, referee JP Doyle stuck his head into the mass of bodies to decide that the ball was over the try-line.
Dan Biggar missed the conversion, but his opposite number, Ford was in no such mood. He scored another penalty prior to Ben Youngs’ classy try after a some really attractive play from Tigers. The England fly-half converted Youngs’ score to extent Tigers’ lead.
The boot of Ford would be in use just moments later too. He converted the second Tigers try of the afternoon after early-replacement Jordan Olowofela crossed the whitewash at Twickenham for his first ever Premiership try.
The half was ended after five minutes of added time, but before that, the impressive David Ribbans scored a try that still left Saints a long way off their East Midlands rivals. Biggar missed the kick again in what was a disappointing day for the Welsh international.
The last actions of the game were a Ford penalty and a Mikey Haywood try, that again went converted which ended a very subdued derby game that didn’t really deliver like we were all expecting.
Sale Sharks 20 – 7 Newcastle Falcons
Falcons fans are probably used to this feeling by now. Falling short yet again, Dean Richards’ side looked bereft of confidence going into their clash against Toulon this weekend. Sale, on the other hand, are further out of trouble than their northern rivals after a big second half performance.
The scoring began in the 33rd minute with an AJ MacGinty penalty, but Falcons would be in the lead come the half-time whistle. A Will Welch try was converted by early replacement Joel Hodgson after the Falcons had lost the influence of Toby Flood and Vereniki Goneva early on to injury.
In the second half, Sharks really came into their own. This was aided by the visitors’ ill-discipline. Logovi’i Mulipola was sin-binned just two minutes prior to James Phillips’ try in the 53rd minute. MacGinty converted the lock’s score, but was unable to convert the two that followed.
Tries from Bryn Evans and Rohan Janse van Rensburg put the game beyond doubt. Evans’ effort followed Michael Youngs’ yellow card, giving Sale the man advantage yet again. This Falcons side is probably looking forward to the respite that European competition will bring.
Wasps 21 – 35 Gloucester Rugby
The return of Danny Cipriani to the Ricoh was a happy one. Well, for him anyway.
The England fly-half had a very good game up against the side that pushed him out the door over the summer. It didn’t quite start in Gloucester’s favour though.
Dan Robson got over the line early on, giving Billy Searle an early conversion to get his points tally off the mark for the afternoon.
Gloucester’s fightback started soon after. Ben Vellacott scored a try following some quite frankly mesmerising play. Cipriani produced an outstanding kick or the young scrum-half to score after the pair broke from their own 22.
Cipriani was on kicking duties again this weekend, converting Vellacott’s score, as well as penalty soon after. Charlie Sharples then offered Cipriani with another chance from the tee just seconds after his last. The veteran winger scored yet another try in a season of resurgence for the former-England man.
Cipriani converted the score and it was another three points from his boot that was the last noteworthy moment in the first half.
Wasps must have had a strong team-talk at half-time. They came out all guns blazing and just dominated their opponents.
They were rewarded with a stylish try from Elliot Daly and then a score from South African Juan de Jongh. They were converted by their stand-in fly-half Searle, either side of another Cipriani penalty. However, the Wasps resurgence came with no reward.
Sharples was put through yet again by his side and the way Gloucester are playing, really benefits the club legend. Cipriani didn’t convert on this occasion but did convert the try of flanker Lewis Ludlow soon after.
Harlequins 20 – 25 Saracens
In previous years this London derby has thrown a spanner in the works for Saracens. It did again this time as it resulted in them dropping points for the first time this season, but as problems go, it’s a difficult one to feel sympathetic about.
It was a kicking show early on. Owen Farrell and Marcus Smith traded two penalties apiece, then Danny Care continued his try-scoring record with yet another effort. Smith converted the score prior to Farrell’s penalty that gave Quins the lead at half-time.
Farrell would score another penalty six minutes before the stand-out moment in this contest.
A missed penalty from Smith was chased by outside centre Joe Marchant and made into a Quins try. A truly outstanding example of opportunism from the former England U20 player and more evidence for Eddie Jones to cap the young centre before Wales lure him to the provinces.
Smith didn’t miss the kick for the conversion, but it did signal the end of Quins’ scoring for the evening. Farrell would successfully slot a penalty later on, however just moments later, Billy Vunipola bulldozed through the Quins defence to score Sarries’ only try of the game.
Farrell reliably converted his England teammates try, and would end the contests scoring with yet another penalty. This was an example of Sarries being able to grind out a result against a side who always up their game against them.
Worcester Warriors 52 – 7 Bristol Bears
To say this result was unexpected is putting it mildly. Bristol started the game brightly as Yann Thomas scored early on to give Ian Madigan a fairly simple conversion, but that would be it for Bristol in this game.
Worcester captain GJ van Velze scored their first try of the game, following a Chris Pennell penalty in the eighth minute. Weir converted his captain’s try and did the same soon after for centre Ryan Mills on the 25-minute mark.
It was former Bristol man Marco Mama who got the next try. On his man of the match performance, Mama looked head and shoulders above any other of the players on the pitch, he quite simply was unplayable.
Spingbok Francois Venter was the next to keep Worcester ticking over. The conversion for Venter’s score brought in half-time and you can imagine that there were some happy Warriors fans at Sixways.
The second half was much like the first, but this time Bristol would score no points. Chris Pennell got on the scoresheet again, this time with five points rather than three. The former England man still remaining as a consistent performer for Warriors in his testimonial year.
Josh Adams finally recorded his first score of the season. The joint-top try scorer from last term dotted down and hopefully there will be more to come from the Welsh flyer.
From Adams score there was a bit of a lull. The only notable occurrence being Ryan Bowers red card in the 68th minute, but this did not dent the Warriors’ confidence.
Their final try was from the impressive Bryce Heem, the kiwi had been a thorn in Bristol’s side all afternoon and benefitted after an overlap play that got him in at the corner. Weir converted this score to give him a perfect record in that department and gave Worcester their biggest win in their top-flight history.
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