Bath Bok sees red
Bath’s Springbok flank Francois Louw was one of the three players red-carded in Leicester Tigers’ 17-12 victory at Welford Road on Saturday.
Bath’s Springbok flank Francois Louw was one of the three players red-carded in Leicester Tigers’ 17-12 victory at Welford Road on Saturday.
Louw, team mate Matt Banahan and Tigers flank Brett Deacon were all given red by referee Tim Wigglesworth with Bath duo Simon Taylor and Stephen Donald yellow-carded in an ill-tempered encounter that saw the Tigers claw back after trailing 5-0 at half-time.
Meanwhile, London Welsh edged a 14-man London Irish 15-9 while Exeter Chiefs kept their unbeaten home record intact with a 30-23 victory over London Wasps.
We look at Saturday’s action!
Leicester Tigers 17-12 Bath
Adam Thompstone's second-half try and the misfiring boot of George Ford was enough to see Leicester Tigers squeeze past Bath in an ill-tempered Premiership affair at Welford Road.
Bath held a 5-0 advantage at half-time thanks to Stephen Donald's try and extended their lead after the break, following a couple of Ford penalties, through a Tom Biggs score.
But the referee then took centre stage as three red cards were shown, two to Bath for Francois Louw and Matt Banahan and one for Tigers' Brett Deacon.
And Leicester made the most of the man advantage as wing Thompstone touched down and Ford added the rest of the points with the boot to see his side over the line.
There were only four minutes on the clock when Donald had his first shot at the posts after Horacio Agulla's chip-and-chase was blocked by Deacon, but the Kiwi's effort flew wide of the right upright.
He could have been made to rue that miss six minutes later as Ford lined up his own penalty attempt in front of the posts, but his kick went left of the posts and the scores remained unchanged.
But all that changed on 14 minutes as Donald made amends for his earlier miss with his second Premiership try of the season.
The flyhalf collected the ball after a successful break from Nick Abendanon and he skipped past Thompstone and Mathew Tait, the fullback making his first Welford Road start for 14 months, before touching down on the right.
However, the World Cup winner's woes with the boot continued as his conversion attempt had the direction but fell short of the uprights.
Ford had a chance to get Leicester on the scoreboard moments later but he too continued to struggle from the tee, missing another attempt in front of the posts as the ball cannoned off the right upright.
The home side continued to dominate proceedings but found Bath's defence in fine form.
And when they did finally got over the whitewash, following a fine passage of play that saw them flow from left to right, they were denied by the Television Match Official who chalked off Niall Morris' try for a forward pass from Graham Kitchener.
On 34 minutes, Leicester looked like they were in again, this time a sweeping move going from right to left, only for Ford's long pass to Thompstone to fall just short of the wing.
After heading into half-time scoreless, Leicester were finally on the scoresheet as Ford found his range with the boot, knocking over a 44th-minute penalty to get the Tigers' faithful roaring.
And the game looked like swinging in the hosts' favour as Bath No.8 Simon Taylor was sin-binned for an arm across Tait's face with the fullback in full flow following a chip-and-chase.
Leicester made the most of the man advantage as Ford kicked Leicester into the lead for the first time on 56 minutes.
But just moments later, Bath scored their second try of the game to go back ahead, Donald finding Banahan on the left wing who flicked the ball inside to Biggs to go over, Donald adding the extras.
However, the game swung back in Leicester's favour on the hour mark as Louw was shown a red card for an elbow on Kitchener, the Tigers immediately making the most of the advantage as Morris sent Thompstone over in the left corner for his fifth try in six Premiership appearances.
Ford missed the conversion to leave the Tigers just a point behind but they were soon 14-12 ahead as the flyhalf added another penalty.
Referee Tim Wigglesworth was brandishing the red card again on 65 minutes as both sides were reduced, Banahan for a high tackle on Anthony Allen, who was stretchered off, and Deacon for punching Banahan in the face in retaliation.
The referee was busy still on 66 minutes as Donald was shown a yellow card, allowing Ford to give Leicester some breathing space, his penalty going over off the left upright.
Abendanon kept his Bath side in the game with a great last-ditch tackle on Dan Bowden with the try-line at his mercy, but the visitors couldn't muster an attack and the Tigers saw out the win.
For Leicester Tigers:
Pens: Ford 4
Tries: Donald, Biggs
Yellow cards: Simon Taylor (Bath, 49), Stephen Donald (Bath, 65)
Red cards: Francois Louw (Bath, 57), Matthew Banahan (Bath, 64), Brett Deacon (Leicester Tigers, 64)
Leicester Tigers: 15 Mathew Tait, 14 Niall Morris, 13 Matt Smith, 12 Anthony Allen, 11 Adam Thompstone, 10 George Ford, 9 Sam Harrison, 8 Thomas Waldrom, 7 Julian Salvi, 6 Brett Deacon, 5 Graham Kitchener, 4 Louis Deacon (captain), 3 Martin Castrogiovanni, 2 George Chuter, 1 Marcos Ayerza.
Replacements: 16 Rob Hawkins, 17 Jonny Harris, 18 Fraser Balmain, 19 Ed Slater, 20 Jordan Crane, 21 Micky Young, 22 Dan Bowden, 23 Geordan Murphy.
Bath: 15 Nick Abendanon, 14 Kyle Eastmond, 13 Horacio Agulla, 12 Matt Banahan, 11 Tom Biggs, 10 Stephen Donald, 9 Michael Claassens, 8 Simon Taylor, 7 Guy Mercer, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Dave Attwood, 4 Stuart Hooper (captain), 3 Anthony Perenise, 2 Lee Mears, 1 Paul James.
Replacements: 16 Brett Sharman, 17 Charlie Beech, 18 Kane Palma-Newport, 19 Dominic Day, 20 Josh Ovens, 21 Mark McMillan, 22 Tom Heathcote, 23 Jack Cuthbert.
Referee: Tim Wigglesworth
Assistant referees: Nigel Carrick, Alan Hughes
London Welsh 15-9 London Irish
Gordon Ross kicked London Welsh to a tense victory over a 14-man London Irish side in the battle of the Exiles, securing crucial points over their relegation rivals in their Premiership clash.
Hitting a perfect five-from-five, player-coach Ross proved to be the difference in a clash that meant more about league position - with tenth playing 11th - than traditional rivalry to the Oxford-based team.
Chris Hala'ufia continued his chequered relationship with referees - his early dismissal giving momentum to the home side.
But despite a second-half fightback neither Ian Humphreys or Tom Homer were able to keep up with Scotsman Ross, leaving nine points on the tee as Welsh once again proved a formidable and resilient opponent at the Kassam Stadium, holding on for a win that means even more given Sale's loss on Friday night.
In the fifth minute, the home pack flexed its muscles, driving a maul 30 metres - as it had to open the scoring against Northampton last week - and forcing a penalty, which player-coach Ross knocked over from 35 metres.
Welsh suffered a dual blow minutes later, losing powerful centre Hudson Tonga'uiha to what appeared to be a serious shoulder injury, and conceding a penalty from the following scrum.
While Humphreys' 40-metre effort fell just under the crossbar, Tom Arscott knocked on attempting to field it. However, French prop Franck Montanella, whose reputation is going from strength to strength, got his fullback out of trouble winning a penalty under his own posts and allowing Ross to clear.
In the key moment of the first half, Irish No.8 Hala'ufia saw red for a trademark hit, and while appearing to tip his man past horizontal, the Kassam crowd were surprised to see the Samoan sent off for the challenge.
Ross extended his side's lead with the long-range penalty and added a third minutes later after another driving maul.
Homer responded with a well-struck effort from the Welsh ten-metre line, however, an error from the restart gifted the home side possession deep inside Irish territory.
With Irish a man down up front and Montanella looking hungry, the Welsh pack forced a penalty and put Irish down for a scrum.
However, Adam Balding was unable to control the ball at the base, and Irish escaped to start their own attack, winning a penalty inside the Welsh 22 that Humphreys converted to narrow the gap to three points.
Ross added his fourth penalty with eight minutes left in the first half that meant the sides went into break at 12-6.
Irish's disciplinary problems went from bad to worse, losing Matt Garvey to the sin bin in the 42nd minute for an offence at the breakdown. And although his side rallied, Humphreys could not take advantage, missing two penalties in five minutes.
Welsh responded immediately - first Tyson Keats came agonisingly close to touching down a Nick Scott chip, before the home side turned again to their maul to win a penalty.
It seemed luck was not with the Irish as Ross' attempt bounced on the crossbar and over to take the lead to nine points.
With Garvey back on the field, 14-man Irish looked dangerous in an increasingly broken game and although unable to create any clear openings, they began to dominate the penalty count - Homer taking advantage from 45 metres to bring his side within a score.
Irish boss Brian Smith turned to his bench and after Losi Taicakibau was dragged down by a desperate tackle, the referee evened the numbers, sending Sonny Parker to the sin bin.
Despite giving the London Welsh defence a torrid time during the closing stages, Lyn Jones' side stood strong, and fittingly Ross cleared the ball to end the game.
For London Welsh:
Pens: Ross 5
For London Irish:
Pens: Homer 2, Humphreys
Yellow cards: Matt Garvey (London Irish, 41), Sonny Parker (London Welsh, 69)
Red card: Chris Hala'ufia (London Irish, 10)
London Welsh: 15 Tom Arscott, 14 Dan Caprice, 13 Sonny Parker, 12 Hudson Tonga'uiha, 11 Nick Scott, 10 Gordon Ross, 9 Tyson Keats, 8 Adam Balding, 7 Ed Jackson, 6 Daniel Browne, 5 Kirill Kulemin, 4 Jonathan Mills (captain), 3 Paulica Ion, 2 Neil Briggs, 1 Franck Montanella.
Replacements: 16 Greg Bateman, 17 Tom Bristow, 18 James Tideswell, 19 Matt Corker, 20 Alfie To'oala, 21 Jamie Stephenson, 22 Alex Davies, 23 Seb Jewell.
London Irish: 15 Tom Homer, 14 Topsy Ojo, 13 Sailosi Tagicakibau, 12 Shane Geraghty, 11 Anthony Watson, 10 Ian Humphreys, 9 Darren Allinson, 8 Chris Hala'ufia, 7 Matt Garvey, 6 Declan Danaher (captain), 5 Bryn Evans, 4 George Skivington, 3 Leo Halavatau, 2 Brian Blaney, 1 Max Lahiff.
Replacements: 16 Gerard Ellis 17 Jerry Yanuyanutawa, 18 Halani Aulika, 19 Kieran Low, 20 Jebb Sinclair, 21 Jamie Gibson, 22 Steven Shingler, 23 Jack Moates.
Referee: JP Doyle
Assistant referees: Paul Dix, Andrew Watson
Exeter Chiefs 30-23 London Wasps
Exeter Chiefs made it five wins from five Premiership games at Sandy Park with a hard-fought 30-23 victory over a dogged London Wasps side.
The Chiefs, who recorded their first league away win of the season last week at London Irish, made it three wins on the bounce with tries from Chris Whitehead, Haydn Thomas and Phil Dollman.
Wasps, who themselves are still yet to win on their league travels this season, made it a contest with tries from Elliot Daly and leading Premiership try-scorer Tom Varndell making it 20-20 at the break.
But Wasps failed to score after the break and had to settle for a losing bonus point, while Gareth Steenson's penalty and Dollman's converted try proved to be enough to secure the victory for Rob Baxter's men.
Steenson put the Chiefs ahead with an early penalty, but Lee Thomas followed suit at the other end three minutes later from in front of the posts to level proceedings.
Exeter looked the better of the two sides early on with wing Jack Nowell and Steenson both causing problems, and the latter knocked over another penalty on 10 minutes to restore Exeter's lead.
Rob Baxter's side pushed for a try and were keeping the ball well but were matched by stern Wasps resistance, but it was the visitors who went ahead on 16 minutes following a brilliant solo try from Elliot Daly.
A Billy Vunipola offload released the 20-year-old, who blitzed past fullback Brett Sturgess to touch down in the right corner, Thomas converting to make it 10-6.
Thomas then increased the lead to seven with a simple penalty on 21 minutes after Chiefs were penalised for straying offside.
But Wasps were soon down to 14 men, scrumhalf Joe Simpson sent to the bin for slowing the play down, and the Chiefs wasted no time taking advantage.
Racing downfield and applying heavy pressure in Wasps' 22 immediately, it was hooker Whitehead who crashed over off the back of a rolling maul. Steenson made no mistake with the conversion to level proceedings at 13-13.
But Wasps responded in kind just four minutes later, Christian Wade using his electric pace to open up a gap in the Chiefs backline before releasing partner-in-crime Varndell to race over in the corner.
The visitors had complaints of a forward pass but the try stood, and Thomas added the extra points to make it 20-13.
The Chiefs battled back once again and, after a superb try-saving tackle from Varndell denied Steenson, scrumhalf Thomas took advantage of his opposite number being in the bin as he snuck across the whitewash from a ruck on the goal-line.
Steenson's conversion was successful to make it all square at 20-20 at half-time.
After the break, the flyhalf had the chance to put Chiefs back in front with another penalty but his effort struck the upright and bounced clear.
But the flyhalf made amends on 50 minutes, splitting the post from the right to nudge the Chiefs ahead after Daly saw yellow for hauling down an on-rushing Nowell to the floor as he chased a kick ahead.
Chiefs looked to take advantage and were camped out in the Wasps 22, only denied by some stern goal-line defence from the visitors.
But after Daly returned, Chiefs finally broke the resistance, working patiently through 11 phases before Luke Arscott's kick over the defence was caught by centre Dollman to crash over in the corner.
The centre added the extra points himself to open up a ten-point lead for the home side with 16 minutes to play.
Wasps came back strongly and looked to try and release dangerman Wade, but Chiefs were just doing enough to stop the 21-year-old from finding space.
Exeter held firm and Wasps were forced to settle for a bonus point - replacement Tom Bell knocking over from 35-metres out with the final action of the match.
For Exeter Chiefs:
Tries: Whitehead, Thomas, Dollman
Pens: Steenson 3
Cons: Steenson 2, Dollman
For London Wasps:
Tries: Daly, Varndell
Pens: L Thomas 2, Bell
Cons: L Thomas 2
Yellow cards: Joe Simpson (London Wasps, 26), Elliot Daly (London Wasps, 50)
Exeter Chiefs: 15 Luke Arscott, 14 Jack Nowell, 13 Phil Dollman, 12 Jason Shoemark, 11 Matt Jess, 10 Gareth Steenson, 9 Haydn Thomas, 8 Richard Baxter, 7 James Scaysbrook, 6 Dean Mumm, 5 James Hanks, 4 Tom Hayes (captain), 3 Carl Rimmer, 2 Chris Whitehead, 1 Brett Sturgess.
Replacements: 16 Simon Alcott, 17 Ben Moon, 18 Hoani Tui, 19 Aly Muldowney, 20 Tom Johnson, 21 Kevin Barrett, 22 Ignacio Mieres, 23 Sireli Naqelevuki.
London Wasps: 15 Hugo Southwell, 14 Tom Varndell, 13 Elliot Daly, 12 Lee Thomas, 11 Christian Wade, 10 Nick Robinson, 9 Joe Simpson, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Jonathan Poff, 6 Ashley Johnson, 5 Marco Wentzel, 4 Tom Palmer, 3 Phil Swainston, 2 T Rhys Thomas, 1 Zak Taulafo.
Replacements: 16 Tom Lindsay, 17 Simon McIntyre, 18 Will Taylor, 19 James Cannon, 20 Sam Jones, 21 Charlie Davies, 22 Tommy Bell, 23 Andrea Masi.
Referee: Andrew Small
Assistant referees: Peter Huckle, Gareth Copsey