Quins edge heavyweight battle
Sat, 03 Nov 2012 20:51
Harlequins put an end to Gloucester's fine run of form to remain top of the Premiership as the reigning champions secured a 28-25 victory at Twickenham Stoop.
The hosts put the absence of captain Chris Robshaw and in-form scrumhalf Danny Care to international duty behind them to see off their visitors, despite a fine individual display from Gloucester's Freddie Burns.
Burns was ultra consistent with the boot, scoring six penalties from six, but tries from Mike Brown, Matt Hopper and Sam Smith secured a home victory, despite a late Billy Twelvetrees score for the visitors.
Harlequins were the first to score, Nick Evans making no mistake after powerful play up front resulted in a penalty from a driving maul.
It was all square in the eighth minute, with Burns responding with a coolly-taken penalty of his own after a scrummage broke down in Gloucester's favour.
But not long later Quins had the first try of the game, Maurie Fa'asavalu breaking away from a line-out in the corner to put his side behind the gain line.
The ball was then switched to Brown, who was this week released back to his club by Stuart Lancaster, and he went over in the corner under considerable pressure from the visiting defence, Evans adding the conversion.
A pulsating start to the match continued as Burns immediately closed the gap with another well-taken penalty, reducing the arrears to four points.
Gloucester's final execution with the ball was repeatedly letting them down in promising positions, but they could rely on Burns who kicked his third successful penalty to bring the score to 10-9 in favour of the hosts.
And Burns' consistent boot gave his side the lead for the first time in the match with his fourth well-taken penalty as the interval loomed. However, just as they were thinking of a half-time lead, Quins showed their championship mettle by responding with a try a minute later.
From a tap-penalty following a Gloucester offside, Karl Dickson burst forward before offloading to Tom Williams who found Hopper in space to finish in the corner.
And on the stroke of half-time the hosts increased their lead to ten points with a 40th minute try for Sam Smith following an interception as Gloucester attacked. Evans atoned for missing a conversion five minutes previously to kick his side into a 22-12 half-time lead.
Gloucester knew the next score would be crucial, and they set about getting back into the game with Burns' fifth successful penalty, awarded after Quins were penalised for crossing in midfield as Brown broke loose.
Two minutes later, the visitors' revival was dealt a blow when Shane Monahan was sin-binned for tackling Brown in the air as he claimed a high ball.
However, the final finish was lacking, as a sturdy Gloucester defence held firm until Monahan returned to action, with Evans surprisingly missing an easy penalty moments earlier.
But the New Zealander, fresh from signing a new three-year contract with the club, made up for that miss on the hour mark to stretch his side's lead to ten points.
Burns continued an impressive individual performance though, again kicking a penalty through the posts to take his, and Gloucester's tally to 18.
The visitors fell further adrift after another Evans penalty, but they continued to fight to the end, despite England No.8 Ben Morgan being sent to the sin-bin.
And a frantic final minute ensued when the score was brought back to 28-25 when Gloucester scrum-half Dan Robson tapped a quick penalty and surged forward and found Twelvetrees who quickly scored the try, allowing Burns to convert in the 80th minute.
Tries: Brown, Hopper, Smith
Cons: Evans 2
Pens: Evans 3
Pens: Burns 6
Yellow card: Monahan, Morgan
Harlequins: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Tom Williams, 13 Matt Hopper, 12 Tom Casson, 11 Sam Smith, 10 Nick Evans, 9 Karl Dickson, 8 Nick Easter, 7 Luke Wallace, 6 Maurie Fa'asavalu, 5 George Robson, 4 Olly Kohn, 3 James Johnston, 2 Joe Gray, 1 Mark Lambert
Replacements:16 Rob Buchanan, 17 Darryl Marfo, 18 Will Collier, 19 Charlie Matthews, 20 Tom Guest, 21 Jordan Burns, 22 Ben Botica, 23 Seb Stegmann
Gloucester: 15 Martyn Thomas, 14 Shane Monahan, 13 Mike Tindall (captain), 12 Billy Twelvetrees, 11 James Simpson-Daniel, 10 Freddie Burns, 9 Jimmy Cowan, 8 Ben Morgan, 7 Akapusi Qera, 6 Matt Cox, 5 Will James, 4 Tom Savage, 3 Rupert Harden, 2 Huia Edmonds, 1 Dan Murphy
Replacements: 16 Tommaso d'Apice, 17 Nick Wood, 18 Dario Chistolini, 19 Peter Buxton, 20 Gareth Evans, 21 Dan Robson, 22 Tim Molenaar, 23 Rob Cook
Exeter Chiefs 33-9 Worcester Warriors
Exeter Chiefs maintained their unbeaten Premiership home record, compounding Worcester Warriors' misery on the road with a confident display in a 33-9 win at Sandy Park.
A first-half try from Gonzalo Camacho set the Chiefs on their way, before late tries from Haydn Thomas and Chris Budgen secured the win in the final ten minutes.
Gareth Steenson added 16 points with the boot as Rob Baxter's charges ended a run of three defeats on the bounce.
The defeat ended a run of three wins for the Warriors, leaving them still searching for their first win on the road this season - restricted to just nine points for flyhalf Andy Goode.
After hitting the bar with a second-minute penalty, Steenson made amends with a deft chip down the line for Argentina wing Camacho - who capitalised on a Warriors mix-up to kick the ball on and touch down for the opening score.
Steenson added the extra points and then extended the lead to ten two minutes later with another penalty, finding the target from the left after another Warriors infringement at the breakdown.
The Warriors were struggling to make anything happen in possession and soon handed Steenson another kickable penalty for not binding - the 28-year-old making no mistake to stretch the lead to 13-0 after 15 minutes.
Worcester were struggling to even get into the Chiefs half and were soon a further three points behind - Steenson making no mistake with a 42-metre kick on 20 minutes.
All the momentum was with the home side as Worcester's handling deserted them, with Camacho and Matt Jess looking dangerous on the wings.
Steenson then extended his personal tally to 14 - this time finding target from the 15 metre line to make it 19-0 with ten minutes of the first half remaining.
Worcester finally began to find their feet as half-time drew nearer, looking threatening with a succession of mauls before a big Camacho tackle forced Goode to knock on just inside the 22.
They finished the half in the ascendancy but were unable to make anything happen despite pressure in Exeter's 22 - settling for a Goode penalty with the last kick to make it 19-3 at the break.
Worcester looked the better side at the start of the second half, Goode adding his second penalty of the afternoon to make it 19-6.
But despite enjoying the more of the ball as the half progressed the Warriors were unable to turn possession into points in a scoreless 25 minutes.
With 11 minutes remaining Goode narrowed the gap to ten points - splitting the posts with his third penalty of the afternoon.
But any hopes of a Worcester fightback were ended by Haydn Thomas, the scrum-half sneaking over for his first try of the season from close range eight minutes from time, Steenson's conversion making it 26-9.
Sam Betty was sinbinned in the closing stages to complete a forgettable afternoon for Worcester, before replacement Budgen ran in a try three minutes from time to round off a confident victory in style for the Chiefs.
For Exeter Chiefs:
Tries: Camacho, Thomas, Budgen
Cons: Steenson 2, Mieres
For Worcester Warriors:
Pens: Goode 3
Yellow cards: Sam Betty (Worcester)
Exeter Chiefs: 15 Luke Arscott, 14 Gonzalo Camacho, 13 Sireli Naqelevuki, 12 Phil Dollman, 11 Matt Jess, 10 Gareth Steenson, 9 Haydn Thomas,8 Richard Baxter, 7 James Scaysbrook, 6 Dean Mumm, 5 Aly Muldowney, 4 Tom Hayes (capt), 3 Carl Rimmer, 2 Chris Whitehead, 1 Brett Sturgess.
Replacements: 16 Neil Clark,17 Ben Moon, 18 Chris Budgen, 19 James Hanks, 20 Dave Ewers, 21 Kevin Barrett, 22 Ignacio Mieres, 23 Ian Whitten.
Worcester Warriors: 15 Chris Pennell, 14 Josh Drauniniu, 13 Alex Grove, 12 Josh Matavesi, 11 David Lemi, 10 Andy Goode, 9 Paul Hodgson, 8 Chris Jones, 7 Matt Kvesic, 6 Sam Betty, 5 Dean Schofield (c), 4 James Percival, 3 John Andress, 2 Ed Shervington, 1 Ceri Jones.
Replacements: 16 Aleki Lutui, 17 Matt Mullan, 18 James Currie, 19 Craig Gillies, 20 Semisi Taulava, 21 Jonny Arr, 22 Joe Carlisle, 23 Ravai Fatiaki.
Leicester Tigers 16-12 Northampton Saints
Matt Smith's try right after half-time was enough to help Leicester Tigers to a 16-12 victory in a tightly-contested East Midlands derby at Welford Road.
After a slow start the Tigers dominated possession and territory but an off-day from George Ford in front of goal, the youngster missing five penalty chances, kept the scoreline tight.
But just after the break Fijian wing Vereniki Goneva made the decisive intervention setting up Smith for the try that sees the Tigers leapfrog their opponents in the Premiership table.
Northampton made the better start when Leicester were penalised for being offside straight in front of the posts and Ryan Lamb slotted the penalty from 30m out straight in front to make it 3-0 after four minutes.
Saints had the chance to double their lead when Martin Castrogiovanni was penalised for binding on the arm at a scrum and from wide on the right Lamb made no mistake.
Leicester should have hit back immediately when Samu Manoa made a late tackle on Ford, but having shaken off the knock the young flyhalf's effort flew wide to the right of the posts.
And it didn't get any better for the 19-year-old when his second penalty attempt drifted wide a couple of minutes later.
However after a third Northampton infringement in a very short space of time, Ford finally got off the mark from virtually the same place on the left.
Leicester were beginning to build some momentum and it needed a desperate intervention from Lamb to stop Ben Youngs dotting down for the first try after Niall Morris' chip over the top.
However when Leicester were awarded another penalty, Ford's difficulties from the kicking tee resurfaced as his effort skewed wide.
Northampton could have extended their lead further when they stole a Tigers line-out deep in Leicester territory but after failing to find a way through Lamb made a mess of his drop goal attempt.
And with the final play of the half Ford made Northampton pay, knocking over his second penalty of the afternoon to make it 6-6 at the break.
Goneva, who had replaced Scott Hamilton, provided the spark two minutes after the break, popping up on the shoulder of Ford before offloading for Smith to score.
Ford's conversion made it 13-6 but Lamb got a penalty back for Saints almost immediately after an early tackle from the Leicester flyhalf.
The Northampton flyhalf could have added another soon after but his effort rebounded off the outside of the post and when Mike Heywood was penalised for a clash in the air with Geordan Murphy, Ford stretched the lead to 16-9.
Lamb hit back with another penalty eight minutes from time but the Saints flyhalf then made a bad mistake when he barged Anthony Allen off the ball and was sent to the sin bin as Tigers held out for the win.
Pens: Ford 3
Pens: Lamb 4
Yellow card: Lamb (77th min - professional foul)
Leicester Tigers: 15 Geordan Murphy (captain), 14 Scott Hamilton, 13 Matt Smith, 12 Anthony Allen, 11 Niall Morris, 10 George Ford, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Richard Thorpe, 7 Julian Salvi, 6 Steve Mafi 5 Graham Kitchener, 4 Louis Deacon, 3 Martin Castrogiovanni, 2 George Chuter, 1 Marcos Ayerza.
Replacements: 16 Jimmy Stevens, 17 Boris Stankovich, 18 Fraser Balmain, 19 Ed Slater, 20 Michael Noone, 21 Sam Harrison, 22 Dan Bowden, 23 Vereniki Goneva.
Northampton Saints: 15 Tom May 14 Ken Pisi 13 George Pisi 12 Dom Waldouck 11 Jamie Elliott 10 Ryan Lamb 9 Martin Roberts 8 GJ Van Velze 7 Phil Dowson (captain) 6 Calum Clark 5 Mark Sorenson 4 Samu Manoa 3 Brian Mujati 2 Mike Haywood 1 Soane Tonga'uiha
Replacements: 16 Ross Mcmillan 17 Alex Waller 18 Paul Doran Jones 19 Ben Nutley 20 Rhys Oakley 21 Alex Day 22 Luther Burrell 23 Vasily Artemyev.
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