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Evans keeps Quins on top

Sat, 29 Dec 2012 18:26
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Nick Evans scored 16 points with the boot as defending champions Harlequins ensured they will stay of the Premiership table at the turn of the year.

Apart from the 16 points from the boot of the New Zealander, Evans, Danny Care scored a five-pointer and a late penalty try saw Quins beat London Irish 26-15.

In other Saturday action Anthony Allen's first try of the season helped Leicester Tigers come from behind to secure a nail-biting 17-12 Premiership victory over Gloucester.

* Tom Heathcote's nerveless conversion and Bath's never-say-die attitude earned a 12-12 draw and denied Exeter Chiefs in this war of attrition in the Premiership.

* And Joe Simpson's brilliant individual try sparked a second half comeback that helped London Wasps to an impressive 34-15 win over London Welsh at the Kassam Stadium.

We look at all Saturday's action!

Harlequins 26-15 London Irish

Nick Evans scored 16 points with the boot as defending champions Harlequins ensured they will stay of the Premiership table at the turn of the year.

Despite 15 points from Ian Humphreys in a sold out game at Twickenham, a Danny Care score and late penalty try mean it's now just one win in 10 games for London Irish in all competitions.

After Sale's Friday win against Worcester, London Irish are precariously looking over their shoulders at the foot table, but their opening 40 minutes against Quins was anything other than relegation form.

In poor handling conditions, Quins struggled to reproduce their attacking form of December that has seen Conor O'Shea's men top both the Premiership and also their European Cup pool at Christmas.

New Zealander Evans, who had scored 67 points for Quins in his previous four visits to Twickenham, opened the scoring after just six minutes with the boot after London Irish flank Declan Danaher had been penalised for breaking his bind at scrum time.

Despite several passages of play, Quins were unable to extend their lead as the boots of Evans and London Irish No.10 Humphreys dominated proceedings in the wet conditions.

Humphreys, who scored seven penalties in the Exiles' narrow 31-28 loss against Quins in October, levelled proceedings with a penalty on 12 minutes as England skipper Chris Robshaw was penalised for not rolling away.

Quins had the edge in the set-piece and the pressure exerted by props Joe Marler and James Johnston on 22 minutes led to London Irish being penalised in front of their posts and Evans adding the three points to edge the defending champions 6-3 ahead.

Straight from the restart it was all square though as Tom Williams collected the ball and took it into contact and Quins flank Maurie Fa'asavalu was penalised on the floor trying to retrieve it - Humphreys added the points to make it 6-6.

Quins will wonder how they went into the break all square as first Evans, who had scored 54 points in his three previous games against London Irish, missed a straight-forward penalty on 30 minutes.

And then the mercurial All Black wasted a gilt-edged opportunity to send Ugo Monye over for a walk-in try as he knocked-on in sight of the line just minutes later.

For all of their dominance, the final shots at goal came from Humphreys - he missed with two long range efforts though in the final four minutes, while Evans again fluffed his lines with the final strike of the half.

Evans nudged Quins 9-6 ahead just three minutes into the second half as Irish failed to deal with a lively multi-phase start from the home side, while indiscipline from lock Olly Kohn on 48 minutes allowed Humphreys to level with a penalty of his own for the Exiles.

Humphreys was fortunate not to be sinbinned on 50 minutes as he appeared to deliberately palm the ball into touch as Quins flyer Monye passed inside to his supporting runners' just metres short of the line.

Quins' pressure eventually told just minutes later as England number nine Danny Care burrowed over from close range after Evans was initially held up just metres short - the New Zealander added the extras.

With 24 minutes to play Humphreys reduced the arrears to just four points as he landed a long-range penalty but straight from the restart Evans extended Quins lead to 19-12 with a penalty of his own.

For all of their possession and territory, needless errors at the breakdown meant Irish stayed within touching distance as Humphreys landed his fifth penalty for the Exiles with 17 minutes to play.

Exiles debutant Pat Phibbs was yellow carded for slapping the ball out of Care's hands just metres from the line late on and Irish paid the ultimate penalty.

Two reset scrums saw a penalty try awarded for Harlequins against the visitors and left London Irish without a losing bonus point - Evans added the extras.

The scorers:

For Harlequins:
Tries:
Care, Penalty try
Cons: Evans 2
Pens: Evans 4

For  London Irish:
Pens:
Humphreys 5

Yellow card: Patrick Phibbs (London Irish, 75)

Teams:

Harlequins: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Tom Williams, 13 Matt Hopper, 12 Tom Casson, 11 Ugo Monye, 10 Nick Evans, 9 Danny Care, 8 Nick Easter, 7 Chris Robshaw (captain), 6 Maurie Fa'asavalu, 5 George Robson, 4 Olly Kohn, 3 James Johnston, 2 Joe Gray, 1 Joe Marler.
Replacements: 16 Rob Buchanan, 17 Mark Lambert, 18 Will Collier, 19 Charlie Matthews, 20 Tom Guest, 21 Karl Dickson, 22 Ben Botica, 23 George Lowe.

London Irish: 15 Tom Homer, 14 Topsy Ojo, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Sailosi Tagicakibau, 11 Marland Yarde, 10 Ian Humphreys, 9 Darren Allinson, 8 Chris Hala'ufia, 7 Jebb Sinclair, 6 Declan Danaher (captain), 5 Matt Garvey, 4 Bryn Evans, 3 Halani Aulika, 2 David Paice, 1 Max Lahiff.
Replacements: 16 Scott Lawson, 17 Jerry Yanuyanutawa, 18 Leo Halavatau, 19 George Skivington, 20 Jamie Gibson, 21 Guy Armitage, 22 Steven Shingler, 23 Pat Phibbs.

Referee: Greg Garner.
Assistant Referees: Nigel Carrick, Roy Maybank.
TMO: Geoffrey Warren.

Exeter Chiefs 12-12 Bath

Tom Heathcote's nerveless conversion and Bath's never-say-die attitude earned a 12-12 draw and denied Exeter Chiefs in this war of attrition in the Premiership.

Gareth Steenson's four penalties had put Exeter 12-5 up with half an hour to go but Bath had been knocking on the door despite the torrid conditions and finally made their pressure count.

On 76 minutes, they were awarded a deserved penalty try and replacement Heathcote made no mistake with the kick to seal a hard-earned draw.

In wet and windy conditions, it was always likely to be tight and Steenson's accuracy with the boot looked like it would prove pivotal for the Chiefs in this West Country derby.

The Chiefs went ahead on 12 minutes when Bath were penalised after a lineout and Steenson broke the deadlock but Bath, reeling from their 22-0 hammering by Saracens last time out, responded almost immediately.

After a Bath penalty to touch handed the visitors position deep in Exeter's 22, visiting scrumhalf Michael Claassens produced the first moment of magic to cross in the left-hand corner.

Kicking into the wind, Stephen Donald missed the conversion but that stirred Bath who held their own in for the rest of the first half despite having the worst of the conditions.

That was until just before the interval when a blatant Bath offside gave Steenson the chance to put the Chiefs ahead at the interval - one he duly accepted from 38 metres.

Roared on by a crowd of more than 10,000, the Chiefs came flying out of the blocks in the second half and extended their lead on 44 minutes when again Bath were penalised for being offside.

Again Steenson made a mockery of the conditions and he broke into double figures on 49 minutes in a carbon copy of the previous effort when again Bath were offside on almost the same blade of grass.

Bath did their utmost to hit back and began knocking on the door but when a break appeared visible, handling errors crept in.

Safe in the knowledge that their seven-point deficit would hand them a bonus point, Bath continued on the offensive but trench warfare continued as the conditions deteriorated and the clock ticked down.

With five minutes remaining however, Bath were awarded a penalty and kicked for the corner.

They won the subsequent lineout and drove for the line and the Chiefs illegally stopped their maul, leaving referee David Rose with no option to award the penalty try.

Heathcote, on for Donald, kicked a nerveless conversion and Bath held on for the two points, meaning the Chiefs failed to get back to winning ways after seeing their six-game unbeaten run in all competitions ended last time out by Gloucester.

The scorers:

For Exeter Chiefs:
Pens:
Steenson 4

For Bath
Tries:
Claassens, Penalty try
Con: Heathcote

Teams:

Exeter Chiefs: 15 Luke Arscott, 14 Gonzalo Camacho, 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 Aly Muldowney, 4 Tom Hayes (captain), 3 Hoani Tui, 2 Simon Alcott, 1 Brett Sturgess.
Replacements: 16 Neil Clark, 17 Ben Moon, 18 Carl Rimmer, 19 James Hanks, 20 Tom Johnson, 21 Kevin Barrett, 22 Ignacio Mieres, 23 Ian Whitten.

Bath: 15 Ollie Devoto, 14 Horacio Agulla, 13 Kyle Eastmond, 12 Matt Banahan, 11 Tom Biggs, 10 Stephen Donald, 9 Michael Claassens, 8 Simon Taylor, 7 Guy Mercer, 6 Francois Louw (captain), 5 Ryan Caldwell, 4 Dave Attwood, 3 David Wilson, 2 Lee Mears, 1 Paul James.
Replacements: 16 Tom Dunn, 17 Charlie Beech, 18 Anthony Perenise, 19 Stuart Hooper, 20 Will Skuse, 21 Mark McMillan, 22 Tom Heathcote, 23 Dan Hipkiss.

Referee: David Rose
Assistant Referees: Peter Huckle, Andrew Pearce.

London Welsh 15-34 London Wasps

Joe Simpson's brilliant individual try sparked a second half comeback that helped London Wasps to an impressive 34-15 win over London Welsh at the Kassam Stadium.

The scrumhalf's searing break from halfway swung momentum back to the visitors and further scores from Tom Varndell, Elliot Daly and replacement Will Taylor earned Wasps their first Premiership away win since October 2011.

Following a cagey opening and a badly missed Nick Robinson penalty it was the home side who broke the deadlock, however, in a style familiar to the Oxford faithful.

French powerhouse Franck Montanella got underneath his man at an attacking scrum, and Gordon Ross slotted the kick from 25 metres.

Welsh looked to play through Ross' right boot and the veteran Scotsman - who leads the likes of Toby Flood and Olly Barkley in the points tally - added another on 13 minutes, before Robinson responded with his own shot from close range.

Wasps drew level with another Robinson penalty, the Exiles' fringe defence having no answer for the hard-running trio of Joe Launchbury, Billy Vunipola and Ashley Johnson.

Lyn Jones' side fought their way back into the game and as they did in their previous two home wins began to win the territorial battle, force mistakes from their opposition and let Ross take care of the scoreboard.

He added his third penalty on 23 minutes and knocked over another three minutes before the interval as Welsh finished the half as they started, with a huge Montanella-led scrum producing the penalty that put his side in ahead 12-6.

Wasps cut the lead to three points quickly after the break with another Robinson penalty, before England's forgotten man Simpson lit the game up with an outstanding solo effort to give Wasps their first lead of the game.

Breaking off the tail of a scrappy lineout on halfway Simpson found a gap, put the burners and headed for the far corner. The Welsh cover appeared to cut off his angle, but Simpson stepped off his right foot to straighten, slip two tacklers and dive over.

Robinson was unable to add the extras from a wide angle, but 20-year-old Daly stepped up to hit a long range penalty minutes later and stretch the Wasps lead to 17-12.

Daly crossed himself shortly after to stretch the lead to ten points, finishing off an intricate handling move that saw the usually bruising Johnson show great touch to put his winger over in the corner.

Welsh turned down an opportunity to go to the corner, taking three points and putting them in bonus point territory with eight minutes to go before Wasps put the game to bed and secured a bonus point of their own with two late tries.

First, substitute front-rower Taylor found himself finishing off a series of deft offloads in the right corner, before the more familiar figure of Varndell - stretching his lead as Premiership top try-scorer with his eleventh of the year - went over in the opposite corner on the last play of the game.

The scorers:

For London Welsh:
Pens:
Ross 5

For London Wasps:
Tries:
Varndell, Daly, Simpson, Taylor
Con: Jones
Pens: Robinson 3, Daly

Teams:

London Welsh: 15 Tom Arscott, 14 Dan Caprice, 13 Seb Jewell, 12 Sonny Parker, 11 Nick Scott, 10 Gordon Ross, 9 Rob Lewis, 8 Alfie To'oala, 7 Mike Denbee, 6 Ed Jackson, 5 Kirill Kulemin, 4 Jonathan Mills (captain), 3 James Tideswell, 2 Neil Briggs, 1 Frank Montanella.
Replacements: 16 Greg Evans, 17 Tom Bristow, 18 Greg Bateman, 19 Matt Corker, 20 Adam Balding, 21 Nick Runciman, 22 Alex Davies, 23. J Lewis.

London Wasps: 15 Hugo Southwell (captain), 14 Elliot Daly, 13 Andrea Masi, 12 Chris Bell, 11 Tom Varndell, 10 Nick Robinson, 9 Joe Simpson, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Jonathan Poff, 6 Ashley Johnson, 5 James Cannon, 4 Joe Launchbury, 3 Phil Swainston, 2 T Rhys Thomas, 1 Zak Taulafo.
Replacements: 16 Tom Lindsay, 17 Tim Payne, 18 Will Taylor, 19 Marco Wentzel, 20 Sam Jones, 21 Charlie Davies, 22 Stephen Jones, 23 Chris Mayor.

Referee: Tim Wigglesworth.
Assistant Referees: Paul Dix, Gareth Copsey

Leicester Tigers 17-12 Gloucester

Anthony Allen's first try of the season helped Leicester Tigers come from behind to secure a nail-biting 17-12 Premiership victory over Gloucester on Saturday.

A capacity Welford Road crowd of 24,000 saw Allen dive over at the corner to score the only try of a hard-fought game against his former club.

George Ford, who was one of two players on each side to be yellow carded, landed three penalties and there was also a penalty for Geordan Murphy, who took over kicking duties while Ford was in the sin bin.

Freddie Burns landed four penalties for Gloucester, who threw everything at Tigers late in the game in search of the converted try that would have secured them only a second Premiership victory at Welford Road.

But the Tigers defence withstood the late pressure, including a five-metre penalty with time over, to seal the win and move into second place.

Toby Flood was a late withdrawal through illness. His place at flyhalf was taken by Ford with Dan Bowden coming onto the bench. Geoff Parling returned to the Tigers line-up after being on the bench for last weekend's trip to London Irish and Steve Mafi was named among the replacements on his return from a knee injury.

Gloucester were captained by former Tigers lock Jim Hamilton and centre Billy Twelvetrees made his first return to Welford Road after his summer move to Gloucester.

The game pitched third-placed Tigers against Gloucester, who were fourth in the Premiership, and there had been heavy rain before the game which continued to pour down at kick-off.

Tigers won a penalty at the first scrum of the game and were awarded a second penalty in quick succession as Gloucester went off their feet at a ruck. Ford made no mistake from the angle to kick Tigers into a 3-0 lead with five minutes gone.

Gloucester levelled two minutes later through a Freddie Burns penalty after Brett Deacon, playing against his former club, held on in the tackle.

Tigers had the edge at the first few scrums and they had Gloucester under pressure at their own put-in 15m from their line. Jimmy Cowan fumbled Ben Morgan's pass before Tigers went off their feet in trying to secure the ball.

Adam Thompstone charged down Burns' attempted clearance and when Allen gathered the loose ball Tigers looked to take advantage on the left but Manu Tuilagi was unable to gather Ben Youngs' pass.

A mistake by Burns, who kicked dead 10m inside how own half, gave Tigers a scrum put-in in a good attacking position. Tigers won another penalty but Ford was wide to the right as the scores stayed level midway through the first half.

Gloucester went down to 14 men moments later when they gave away a fourth scrum penalty and their prop Shaun Knight was shown the yellow card.

Gloucester responded by taking the lead for the first time through a second Burns penalty after Julian Salvi was pinged for going off his feet. Referee Andrew Small also spoke to Tigers captain Louis Deacon about further infringements.

Shane Monahan, the Gloucester wing, jumped into Niall Morris as the Tigers wing launched a clearing kick, giving Tigers a penalty where the ball landed in the Gloucester half. However, Ford miscued his kick at the posts.

A knock-on by Martyn Thomas gave Tigers another scrum inside the Gloucester 22. Tigers had the visitors in lots of trouble at the scrum, winning three penalties before the fourth penalty went against Tigers and Gloucester cleared to touch.

Gloucester secured the lineout and Sione Kalamafoni ran off the back, where he was stopped by Ben Youngs. However, referee Small ruled Youngs had not rolled away and showed the Tigers scrum-half a yellow card with five minutes to go to half time. Burns pulled his kick across the posts and the score remained 6-3 to Gloucester at the break.

Tigers started the second half with 14 men and began it on the front foot. Geordan Murphy dictated things from scrum-half as Tigers kept it tight to move into the Gloucester 22. However, Dan Cole lost possession in the tackle and Burns cleared deep.

Burns pounced on a loose pass by Ford in midfield and hacked deep into the Leicester 22 where Ford held on to him in the tackle in the shadow of the posts. Referee Small awarded Gloucester the penalty and yellow-carded Ford. Burns landed the penalty put the visitors 9-3 ahead.

Ben Youngs returned to the field and Tigers hit back straight away, pouncing on Twelvetrees' forward pass. Salvi scooped the ball off his toes and had Morris in space outside him but went into contact. Tigers kept the ball alive and eventually Allen dived over at the right corner for his first try of the season. With Ford off the field, Murphy took over kicking duties but pulled the conversion across the posts.

Gloucester were reduced to 14 men with 25 minutes to go when Will James pulled down a Leicester maul as it gathered pace on the Gloucester 22. Murphy landed the penalty to put Tigers 11-9 ahead.

Tigers survived a scare when Ben Youngs' box kick was charged down but Murphy mopped up for Youngs cleared towards the left touchline. Twelvetrees collected the ball and Tigers came in at the side as they tried to steal possession but Burns was wide with the penalty from the right touchline.

Tigers launched a break through Parling, Mafi and Thompstone who had space down the left but his final pass inside was intercepted by Gloucester's Hamilton, who was bundled into touch.

Tigers won another penalty at the next scrum and Ford, back on the pitch after his yellow card, knocked it over from the angle to push Tigers 14-9 ahead.

Tigers kept it tight as they went in search of a second try. Tuilagi and Crane took up the charge before Parling knocked on under pressure 10m out and Tindall cleared.

At the other end, Burns landed his fourth penalty of the contest to bring the visitors back to 14-12 as the clock ticked into the last 10 minutes.

But Burns then knocked on an up and under on his own 22 which was collected by Hamilton, who was offside giving Tigers the penalty. Ford struck it cleanly through the posts to restore Leicester's five-point advantage.

Tigers withstood some intense Gloucester pressure as the game entered its last five minutes. Twelvetrees tested the defence on the Gloucester right and then on the left with Kalamafoni, who held on to possession under Crane's tackle and conceded the penalty.

Back Gloucester came through Dan Robson's smart break. He was stopped just short of the line by Thompstone and Murphy. Gloucester piled forward, sniping down the side of ruck after ruck before the Leicester defence conceded a penalty. Gloucester took it quickly and flung the ball to the right flank where the visitors knocked on giving Tigers one last scrum.

However, Tigers were pinged at the set-piece giving Gloucester the penalty. Gloucester tapped and went with Morgan and Kalamafoni trying to force their way over but Tigers overturned possession on their line and Murphy kicked dead to seal the win.

The scorers:

For Leicester Tigers:
Try:
Allen
Pens: Murphy, Ford 3

For Gloucester:
Pens:
Burns 4

Yellow cards: Shaun Knight (Gloucester, 23), Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers, 34), George Ford (Leicester Tigers, 44), Will James (Gloucester, 53)

Teams:

Leicester Tigers: 15 Geordan Murphy, 14 Niall Morris, 13 Manusamoa Tuilagi, 12 Anthony Allen, 11 Adam Thompstone, 10 Toby Flood, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Jordan Crane, 7 Julian Salvi, 6 Brett Deacon, 5 Geoff Parling, 4 Louis Deacon (captain), 3 Dan Cole, 2 Tom Youngs, 1 Marcos Ayerza.
Replacements: 16 George Chuter, 17 Logovi'i Mulipola, 18 Martin Castrogiovanni, 19 Ed Slater, 20 Steve Mafi, 21 Sam Harrison, 22 George Ford, 23 Matt Smith

Gloucester: 15 Martyn Thomas, 14 Charlie Sharples, 13 Mike Tindall, 12 Billy Twelvetrees, 11 Shane Monahan, 10 Freddie Burns, 9 Jimmy Cowan, 8 Ben Morgan, 7 Akapusi Qera, 6 Sione Kalamafoni, 5 Jim Hamilton (captain), 4 Will James, 3 Shaun Knight, 2 Huia Edmonds, 1 Nick Wood.
Replacements: 16 Darren Dawidiuk, 17 Dan Murphy, 18 Dario Chistolini, 19 Tom Savage, 20 Matt Cox, 21 Dan Robson, 22 Tim Molenaar, 23 Dave Lewis.

Referee: Andrew Small
Assistant Referees: Kevin Stewart, Paul Burton.
TMO: David Grashoff.

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