Tigers Flood into second place

Sat, 23 Mar 2013 20:12
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Stand-in captain Toby Flood kicked all of Leicester Tigers' points as they defeated Exeter Chiefs 12-9 to move into second in the Premiership table.

Stand-in captain Toby Flood kicked all of Leicester Tigers' points as they defeated Exeter Chiefs 12-9 to move into second in the Premiership table.

In other Saturday action Freddie Burns kicked all of Gloucester's points as they edged their way past struggling London Welsh to keep their play-off hopes very much alive.

* And London Wasps' play-off dreams are hanging by a thread after a last-gasp Christian Day try handed Northampton Saints a precious bonus-point win.

* The London Irish pack made sure it was a St Patrick's Party to remember for the Exiles as they ran out 26-6 winners against Worcester Warriors with a powerful display.

We look at all Saturday's drama!

Exeter Chiefs 9-12 Leicester Tigers

Stand-in captain Toby Flood kicked all of Leicester Tigers' points as they defeated Exeter Chiefs 12-9 to move into second in the Premiership table.

Flood got the better of his opposite number Gareth Steenson by four kicks to three, with the Chiefs man's last-minute penalty falling five metres short of the posts to deny his side a share of the spoils.

Seven players who featured in England's Six Nations defeat in Wales last week were named by Tigers director of rugby Richard Cockerill in his starting line-up with Flood, an England replacement in Cardiff, captaining the side in the absence of both Geordan Murphy and Louis Deacon.

The Chiefs started well and when Julian Salvi was penalised for not rolling away, the first points were put on the board by the hosts as Steenson kicked the penalty through the posts.

Flood was quick to draw the visitors level though with a penalty of his own, the replacement England fly-half levelling matters again in the 17th minute having missed a drop-goal attempt just moments earlier.

Flood though looked in good form and he made it 6-3 to the Tigers with a comfortable kick through the posts from a central position, as his side made the most of a good spell of possession.

The Chiefs were able to respond almost immediately when the Tigers were penalised from a line-out 30 metres out and Steenson struck through the posts for 6-6, at a time when the visitors appeared to be gaining the upper-hand.

It was developing into a stop-start affair with both sides penalised for not releasing the ball, and Flood had the opportunity for his third successful penalty on the half-hour mark, which he comfortably dispatched from 35 metres out.

The first real chance for a try fell to the visitors with five minutes of the first half remaining, but full-back Mathew Tait passed up what looked a certain score following a flowing move involving Jordan Crane, Ben Youngs, Flood and Manu Tuilagi. But after taking Tuilagi's pass five metres from the try-line, Tait was tackled at the last moment by Chiefs youngster Jack Nowell, with Tom Croft waiting for a simple pass to his left.

And they were immediately made to pay for passing up that opportunity as Steenson made it 9-9 just before the break after Leicester were penalised for offside.

Tait's opportunity when two-on-one remained by far the best chance of a try by the midway point of the second-half in a game increasingly dominated by the forwards.

Both sides were guilty of infringements in the scrum and of knock-ons in promising positions as the sell-out Sandy Park crowd became restless at a lack of free-flowing rugby.

As the match approached the final ten minutes the visitors were in the ascendancy looking for a crucial try and they were awarded their fourth penalty when replacement scrum-half Will Chudley infringed by coming into the side on Ben Youngs, with Flood coolly dispatching for a 12-9 lead.

With the last kick of the game Steenson missed the chance to level matters after Tigers replacement Martin Castrogiovanni gave away a penalty, but his kick fell just short.

The scorers:

For Exete Chiefsr:
Steenson 3

For Leicester Tigers:
Flood 4

The teams:

Exeter Chiefs: 15 Luke Arscott, 14 Jack Nowell, 13 Sireli Naqelevuki, 12 Phil Dollman, 11 Matt Jess, 10 Gareth Steenson, 9 Haydn Thomas, 8 Richard Baxter (captain), 7 James Scaysbrook, 6 Ben White, 5 Damian Welch, 4 Dean Mumm, 3 Hoani Tui, 2 Jack Yeandle, 1 Carl Rimmer.
Replacements: 16 Chris Whitehead, 17 Brett Sturgess, 18 Craig Mitchell, 19 James Hanks, 20 Dave Ewers, 21 Will Chudley, 22 Henry Slade, 23 Ian Whitten.

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

Referee: Tim Wigglesworth
Assistant Referees: Gareth Copsey & Paul Burton.
TMO: Geoffrey Warren.

Gloucester 15-14 London Welsh

Freddie Burns kicked all of Gloucester's points as they edged their way past struggling London Welsh to keep their Premiership play-off hopes very much alive.

The Exiles, five points adrift at the foot of the table, led for much of the contest at Kingsholm and saw Phil MacKenzie cross the whitewash ten minutes after the interval.

But England fly-half Burns, who missed four penalties and was far from his best from the tee in blustery conditions, just about did enough to see his side over the line and keep up the pressure on their top four rivals.

The hosts started on the front foot and in Welsh territory, Burns' chip to corner putting some early pressure on.

The Gloucester pack worked well and eventually got their rewards when Burns knocked over a sixth-minute penalty.

But six minutes later Gordon Ross responded with a long-range penalty of his own to level the scores.

The visiting fly-half then added another impressive kick in blustery conditions to make it 6-3 on 25 minutes.

Moments later Burns chose to kick to touch from a penalty and after a couple of phases, with the posts in his sights, he opted to go for the three points after the award of another penalty but it swung just wide.

Conditions were making free-flowing rugby as difficult as the kicks, but Burns gave Gloucester parity with the last act of the half - his second successful penalty of the afternoon making it 6-6 at half-time.

While Gloucester were quickest out of the traps in the first half it was London Welsh who started with more intent in the second.

The Exiles were looking dangerous five metres out before Jonny May was deemed to have deliberately knocked on and was shown a yellow card. Ross calmly notched the penalty to regain the visitors' lead.

Straight back up the other end of the field Burns missed another penalty, this time five metres outside the 22, and he was made to pay on 51 minutes.

An excellent drive from former Gloucester No. 8 Daniel Browne found Ross who managed to offload to wing MacKenzie who touched down excellently. Ross missed the conversion but Welsh still held a 14-6 lead.

Ross' previously expert touch with the boot was beginning to wane as he missed against from the tee - this time a penalty on the hour mark.

That, and an injection of pace from full-back Rob Cook, breathed some life into the hosts who were awarded a penalty for their endeavour and Burns reduced their arrears to five points.

That was to become two points with 12 minutes remaining as Burns began to find his form and the Kingsholm faithful found their voice.

Returning Six Nations stars Billy Twelvetrees and Jim Hamilton then instigated Gloucester's best move of the match, culminating in a penalty awarded just five metres out, but Burns dragged it wide in a nerve-racking finale.

However, with six minutes remaining, a huge drive from Gloucester's scrum earned him a reprieve and Burns took full advantage to nudge the hosts in front 15-14.

Burns missed a last-gasp attempt at another three points but it mattered little for the Cherry & Whites whose hopes of a top-four finish remain intact.

The scorers:

For Gloucester:
Burns 5

For London Welsh:
Pens: Ross 3

Yellow card: Jonny May (Gloucester, 43)

The teams:

Gloucester: 15 Rob Cook, 14 Charlie Sharples, 13 Mike Tindall, 12 Billy Twelvetrees, 11 Jonny May, 10 Freddie Burns, 9 Dan Robson, 8 Sione Kalamafoni, 7 Andy Hazell, 6 Peter Buxton, 5 Will James, 4 Jim Hamilton (captain), 3 Shaun Knight, 2 Huia Edmonds, 1 Nick Wood.
Replacements: 16 Koree Britton, 17 Yann Thomas, 18 Dario Chistolini, 19 Tom Savage, 20 Akapusi Qera, 21 Dave Lewis, 22 Henry Trinder, 23 Martyn Thomas.

London Welsh: 15 Seb Jewell, 14 Phil MacKenzie, 13 Gonzalo Tiesi, 12 Sonny Parker, 11 Seb Stegmann, 10 Gavin Henson, 9 Tyson Keats, 8 Daniel Browne, 7 Michael Hills, 6 Julio Cabello Farias, 5 Kirill Kulemin, 4 Jonathan Mills (captain), 3 James Tideswell, 2 Dan George, 1 Tom Bristow.
Replacements: 16 Greg Bateman, 17 Billy Moss, 18 Arthur Joly, 19 Matt Corker, 20 Adam Balding, 21 Alex Davies, 22 Gordon Ross, 23 Nick Scott.

Referee: Martin Fox
Assistant Referees: Andrew Watson & Paul Dix.

London Irish 26-6 Worcester

The London Irish pack made sure it was a St Patrick's Party to remember for the Exiles as they ran out 26-6 winners against Worcester Warriors with a powerful display.

The home side scored three classic, close-range forward's tries to settle the game, with Tom Homer adding a trio of penalties and a conversion to cap what proved a comfortable victory.

Worcester struggled to threaten the Irish try line and it took until well into the second half for the Warriors to cause any panic in the home defence at the Madjeski Stadium.

London Irish took an early lead on eight minutes from a classic catch and drive from the line-out, with lock Matt Garvey the man driven across the line by the Exiles pack. Tom Homer's conversion from out by the left touchline drifted across the face of the posts, however, and it stayed 5-0.

Worcester didn't learn their lesson, and from a second line-out deep in Warriors territory the Exiles again got their driving maul working and wheeled Tongan tighthead Halani Aulika around and over the line as the Worcester defence melted away.

Homer again failed to add to his 69 points this season with his second shot at the posts and Worcester trailed by ten points after a quarter of the game.

Experienced fly-half Andy Goode kicked a penalty to reduce the deficit to 10-3 four minutes later, making it 190 points for the campaign and 1,807 in the top flight.

But Worcester were penalised for holding on after a good, tight box kick from Irish scrum-half Pat Phibbs and Homer notched his first successful kick of the afternoon.

Homer was given another chance soon after when Matt Kvesic was pinged for sealing off the ball under pressure from back row Ofisa Treviranus and Homer made no mistake to make it 16-3 five minutes before the break.

Goode kept Worcester in the hunt with a second penalty late on to send the Warriors in at the interval 16-6 behind.

The second period started much the same as the first, with a rolling maul deep into the Worcester 22 only stopped on the line by desperate Warriors defending. Aulika was adjudged by referee Wayne Barnes not to have grounded the ball, denying him a second score of the day.

But it made no difference, as from the resulting five-metre scrum Irish walked forward with No.8 Chris Hala'ufia controlling the ball at the base of the scrum before plunging over the whitewash. Homer's first successful conversion made it 23-6 and put the result seemingly beyond doubt on 43 minutes.

Any hopes Worcester had of forcing their way back into the game seemed to evaporate when Homer notched his third penalty five minutes later given the Warriors a mountain to climb.

The visitors spent large parts of the second half camped in the Irish half but the Exiles defence held firm, with man of the match Matt Garvey often to the fore.

Worcester rang the changes on the hour with Scotland international Ewan Murray coming on to bolster a reinforced front row, but to little avail.

Jon Clarke was held up on the try line with a classic choke tackle by Treviranus, while successive hacked kicks from Josh Drauninui and winger David Lemi looked to have the Exiles in trouble until the intervention of fly-half Ian Humphreys who tidied up at the back.

Despite kicking a number of penalties to the corner in search of a try, Worcester were unable to break down an increasingly confident London Irish side that looked dangerous on the break late on but couldn't add to their points tally.

The scorers:

For London Irish:
Garvey, Aulika, Hala'ufia
Con: Homer
Pens: Homer 3

For Worcester:
Goode 2

The teams:

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

Worcester Warriors: 15 Chris Pennell, 14 Josh Drauniniu, 13 Alex Grove, 12 Jon Clarke, 11 David Lemi, 10 Andy Goode, 9 Paul Hodgson, 8 Blair Cowan, 7 Matt Kvesic, 6 Neil Best, 5 Dean Schofield, 4 James Percival (captain), 3 John Andress, 2 Ed Shervington, 1 Matt Mullan.
Replacements: 16 Aleki Lutui, 17 Ceri Jones, 18 Euan Murray, 19 Chris Jones, 20 Semisi Taulava, 21 Jonny Arr, 22 Danny Gray, 23 Josh Matavesi.

Referee: Wayne Barnes
Assistant Referees: Andrew Pearce & Peter Huckle.

London Wasps 24-26 Northampton Saints

London Wasps' Premiership play-off dreams are hanging by a thread after a last-gasp Christian Day try handed Northampton Saints a precious bonus-point win.

Wasps thought they had done enough to win the game after a stunning second-half score from Eliot Daly but with the last play of the game, Day burrowed over the line to draw the game at 24-24, with Stephen Myler's conversion winning it for the Saints.

The visitors had completely dominated the opening 40 minutes, scoring three tries following catch and drives from line-outs but an opportunist score from Tom Varndell and the boot of veteran Stephen Jones kept London Wasps within striking distance at the break.

London Wasps had a 100 per cent home record at Adams Park in the Premiership this season prior to kick-off and for a while in the second half it looked as though that would continue until Day's late intervention.

Northampton demonstrated their superior power up front inside the opening ten minutes; the returning Dylan Hartley and Courtney Lawes from international duty with England, instrumental.

After a sniping break from Lee Dickson, London Wasp Varndell was penalised for stepping offside but instead of taking the points; Northampton kicked for the corner.

In their last Premiership fixture, London Wasps slumped to a 29-23 loss to Worcester Warriors; Dai Young's men were unable to cope with Worcester's driving line-out that day and it repeated itself again against Northampton.

Day took the ball at the front of the line and the Northampton pack drove over the Wasps' try-line, with referee David Rose awarding a penalty try and sin-binning T Rhys Thomas in the process on eight minutes - Myler added the extras.

After an earlier Stephen Jones penalty miss, Daly dragged London Wasps back into the game with a long-range penalty to make it 7-3 on 12 minutes.

But London Wasps' inability to cope up front surfaced again on 16 minutes; Myler turning down a penalty kick in favour of going for the corner and Northampton were again rewarded as the Saints' pack drove over, with Dickson dotting down the ball - Myler missed the conversion to make it 12-3.

Out of nothing London Wasps - second best throughout the opening quarter - got back within two points of the Saints after a superb try from the Premiership's leading scorer Varndell.

The former Leicester winger gathered a pass from No.8 Billy Vunipola, beat four Northampton defenders and ran in under the posts to score his 12th of the season - with veteran Welsh fly-half Jones adding the extras.

London Wasps took the lead on 23 minutes thanks to the boot of Jones with a penalty.

However, London Wasps' Achilles heel continued to surface and on 31 minutes returning England second-row Tom Palmer, making his first start for three months after injury, was sent to the sin-bin as the London club were penalised for continually infringing with Northampton's driving line-out.

Hartley again turned down a kick at goal in favour of a line-out and Northampton's superior muscle was again rewarded as Hartley burrowed over after a period of Saints' pressure - this time Myler added the extras to make it 19-13.

Despite being obviously second-best throughout the opening 40 minutes - London Wasps ensured they reached the break just three points down thanks to a penalty from Jones.

England duo Joe Launchbury and James Haskell stepped off the Wasps' bench on 48 minutes and it immediately stiffened up a pack continually being marched backwards by Northampton - they won a penalty from a scrum with their first interaction.

Following a penalty given against Joe Simpson - on his 100th start for London Wasps - for reacting to being held by Lawes - an edge entered the game, with some newfound physicality coming to the contact area.

The arrival of hooker Tom Lindsay brought some newfound dynamism in the loose for London Wasps and after a period of continued pressure in the Northampton 22; the Saints were penalised and Jones slotted over a penalty to make the scores all square at 19-19 after 59 minutes.

And just a minute later after some great hands by the London Wasps backline; Daly fought off a tackle from England's Ben Foden by the touchline to score one of the tries of the season so far - Jones missed the conversion to leave the score at 24-19.

With ten minutes remaining, Myler had the opportunity to reduce the deficit for Northampton - Vunipola was penalised for an illegal tackle on Foden - but the Saints' No.10 missed his kick at goal.

Ashley Johnson was sin-binned with six minutes remaining for pulling down yet another Northampton maul; the Saints turned down the kick at goal and went for the corner.

Wasps just about managed to keep Northampton out after a period of sustained pressure, with Launchbury eventually winning a penalty for the home side on his side's own try-line.

But Northampton's power up-front eventually told as after a series of drives, Day - with the help of his skipper Hartley - burrowed over the London Wasps' line, with Myler winning the game for the Saints with the last kick of the game.

The scorers:

For London Wasps:
Varndell, Daly
Cons: Stephen Jones
Pens: Daly, Stephen Jones 3

For Northampton:
Penalty try, Dickson, Hartley, Day
Cons: Myler 3

The teams:

London Wasps: 15 Hugo Southwell, 14 Tom Varndell, 13 Elliot Daly, 12 Chris Bell 11 Christian Wade, 10 Stephen Jones, 9 Joe Simpson, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Sam Jones, 6 Ashley Johnson, 5 Marco Wentzel, 4 Tom Palmer, 3 Phil Swainston, 2 T Rhys Thomas, 1 Tim Payne.
Replacements: 16 Tom Lindsey, 17 Zak Taulafo, 18 Will Taylor, 19 James Haskell, 20 Joe Launchbury, 21 Stuart Cummins, 22 Nick Robinson, 23 Andrea Masi.

Northampton Saints: 15 Ben Foden, 14 James Wilson, 13 George Pisi, 12 Dom Waldouck, 11 Jamie Elliott, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Lee Dickson, 8 GJ van Velze, 7 Phil Dowson, 6 Samu Manoa, 5 Christian Day, 4 Courtney Lawes, 3 Tom Mercey, 2 Dylan Hartley (captain), 1 Soane Tonga'uiha.
Replacements: 16 Ross McMillan, 17 Alex Waller, 18 Brian Mujati, 19 Tom Wood, 20 Ben Nutley, 21 Martin Roberts, 22 Ryan Lamb, 23 Tom May.

Referee: David rose
Assistant Referees: Nigel Carrick & Kevin Stewart.
TMO: Graham Hughes.

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Team P W D L Pts
Exeter Chiefs 22 17 0 5 85
Saracens 22 16 0 6 77
Wasps 22 14 1 7 71
Newcastle Falcons 22 14 0 8 63
Leicester Tigers 22 13 0 9 63
Bath 22 11 0 11 56
Gloucester 22 11 1 10 56
Sale Sharks 22 10 0 12 54
Northampton Saints 22 8 0 14 43
Harlequins 22 7 0 15 36
Worcester Warriors 22 7 0 15 36
London Irish 22 3 0 19 22