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London Welsh facing the drop

Sun, 14 Apr 2013 19:50
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London Welsh were left hoping for a survival miracle after a defeat to Northampton ensured they would finish the season at the bottom of the Premiership.

A 10th successive defeat means that Welsh are 12 points adrift of London Irish with just two games to play.

Their only hope of staying in the top flight would be if the winners of the Championship play-offs fail to meet the Premiership's qualification criteria.

However, Newcastle, last year's relegated side, look favourites for a return to the Premiership.

Welsh's survival bid had already been hampered by a five-point deduction for illegally fielding New Zealander Tyson Keats in 10 games.

In Sunday's other two games Leicester Tigers and Saracens both secured their semifinal spots with bonus-point home victories.

We look at all of Sunday's matches:

Leicester Tigers 35-16 London Wasps

Ben Youngs was the star of the show as he scored two tries as Leicester Tigers downed London Wasps 35-16 at Welford Road to book themselves a Premiership semifinal spot.

London Wasps arrived in Leicester having lost their last four league games and faced an uphill battle as they trailed 21-6 at half-time, two Tommy Bell penalties all the visitors had to show for their efforts after the first 40 minutes.

The hosts on the other hand ran in three tries through Youngs, Graham Kitchener and Rob Hawkins, the latter on his 30th birthday, and they weren't done there.

The bonus-point try was wrapped up by Youngs moments after the interval but Tigers didn't let off, Adam Thompstone going over before Elliot Daly scored a fine individual effort in reply for London Wasps.

Leicester flyhalf Toby Flood had the chance to put his side on the scoreboard after just eight minutes but was uncharacteristically wayward with a penalty in front of the posts.

However, after Ed Slater had won the Tigers another penalty just three minutes later, Flood made no mistake with his second attempt.

The Tigers were on top in the early exchanges and a good break from Manu Tuilagi gave Flood another three-pointer, and he wasn't about to miss again.

And on 20 minutes the home side had the try their domination deserved as Youngs stretched out to score from a close-range ruck, Flood missing the conversion.

This opened the floodgates and just six minutes later Leicester were over again, a flowing move from right to left being finished by Kitchener as he barged his way over the Wasps defenders.

Wasps got on the board just after half an hour with Bell's first penalty but it wasn't all smiles for the visitors as they lost flyer Christian Wade through injury.

There was no letting up from the home side as a 50-metre break from Niall Morris looked like bringing a third try only for the wing to be tackled into touch just short of the line, this after Thompstone had been denied a try in the other corner by the TMO.

However the third try did come before the break as Hawkins found himself at the bottom of a rolling maul. Flood's conversion hit the post and Bell grabbed a second penalty before the break but it hardly made a dent on the scoreline, Leicester leading 21-6 at half-time.

And things went from bad to worse for Wasps after the break as Bell was sin-binned for a deliberate knock on and Youngs had his second try immediately as he spun out the back of a scrum, Flood converting.

Fullback Daly demonstrating his kicking prowess as he landed a long-range effort for Wasps on 52 minutes but it was a short-lived reprieve as Thompstone did get his try just before the hour as he raced over in the right corner, Flood again adding the extras.

Daly then stole the limelight as he scored a fine individual try, bursting through the smallest of gaps to go over and give the travelling fans something to cheer, although the day belonged to Wasps who have securing a home semifinal now in their sights as they look towards the Premiership Rugby Final at Twickenham on May 25.

The scorers:

For Leicester Tigers:
Tries: Youngs 2, Kitchener, Hawkins
Pens: Flood 2
Cons: Flood 2

For London Wasps:
Try:
Daly
Pens: Bell 2, Daly
Con: Bell

The teams:

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 Logovi'i Mulipola.
Replacements: 16 Rob Hawkins, 17 Fraser Balmain, 18 Martin Castrogiovanni, 19 Graham Kitchener, 20 Thomas Waldrom, 21 Sam Harrison, 22 George Ford, 23 Matt Smith.

London Wasps: 15 Elliot Daly, 14 Christian Wade, 13 Chris Bell (captain), 12 Charlie Hayter, 11 Tom Varndell, 10 Nick Robinson, 9 Charlie Davies, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Jonathan Poff, 6 Ashley Johnson, 5 Tom Palmer, 4 James Cannon, 3 Will Taylor, 2 Tom Lindsay, 1 Zak Taulafo.
Replacements: 16 Nathan Morris, 17 Simon McIntyre, 18 Lorenzo Romano, 19 Alex Rae, 20 Matt Everard, 21 Joe Simpson, 22 Tommy Bell, 23 Jack Wallace.

Referee: JP Doyle
Assistant Referees: Peter Huckle & Gareth Copsey.
TMO: Graham Hughes

Northampton Saints 31-14 London Welsh

Two quick-fire tries from Tom May just before half-time sparked Northampton Saints to a 31-14 bonus-point victory at the Kassam Stadium that keeps their semifinal charge alive while condemning London Welsh to 12th in the Premiership table.

Following a superb interception try for Nick Scott London Welsh looked to be heading into the interval just two points behind with Stephen Myler kicking three penalties for the visitors.

But just four minutes before half-time wing May, who only arrived in the 19th minute after George Pisi was forced off with an injury, found a gap before repeating the trick moments later for a 19-7 half-time lead for Saints.

And things didn't improve for the home side after the break as Luther Burrell went over five minutes in and then again at the death that meant that Daniel Browne's try for the Exiles was nothing more than a consolation.

The bonus-point victory for Northampton was keeps the hope of a fourth-straight Premiership semifinal in their sights but for the Exiles they can finish no higher than 12th as they sit 12 points behind second-bottom London Irish with just two games remaining.

Northampton Saints pressured London Welsh right from the word go and found themselves 6-0 ahead after just five minutes courtesy of two easy Myler penalties.

But the Exiles were fighting for their Premiership survival and weren't about to give up, wing Seb Stegmann only denied an interception try thanks to the pace and defence of May.

However this was a sign of things to come and just before the half hour Sonny Parker intercepted and raced away, offloading to Scott to finish it off under the posts for an 80m score. Alex Davies added the simple extras and London Welsh found themselves 7-6 in front.

Before the Exiles' try Myler was kicking for touch rather than going for the posts with Saints penalties but opted to kick for goal shortly afterwards to get the Saints back in front.

And things went from bad to worse for London Welsh just before half-time as May grabbed his first try on 34 minutes, making the most of some good work by Ben Foden to go over in the right corner.

Myler missed the tough conversion but the Saints were back on the scoreboard just two minutes later as May raced through a gap, beating three London Welsh defenders to touch down.

Flyhalf Myler's conversion went wide again but the damage had been done and the Saints led 19-7 at half-time.

It took the visitors just five minutes after the restart to grab their third try. Burrell burst through the middle and some good play by Ken Pisi and Brian Mujati eventually led to the centre finishing off what he started, Myler's conversion attempt this time hitting a post.

Northampton Saitns pushed for the bonus-point try but were not helped when Alex Waller was sin-binned for a late tackle of Gordon Ross with 15 minutes remaining.

And London Welsh made the most of the man advantage as No.8 Browne scored a pushover try with ten minutes left to peg their visitor's back, Ross adding the extras.

Saints thought they had got their fourth try late on as Ryan Lamb sent a long pass over to Jamie Elliott but it was deemed forward.

But Northampton did wrap up their bonus point with just minutes remaining as Burrell bundled over for his second score of the game, Lamb adding the extras.

The scorers:

For Northampton Saints:
Tries: May 2, Burrell 2
Con: Lamb
Pens: Myler 3

For London Welsh:
Tries: Scott, Browne
Cons: Davies, Ross

The teams:

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

Northampton Saints: 15 Ben Foden, 14 Ken Pisi, 13 George Pisi, 12 Luther Burrell, 11 Jamie Elliott, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Lee Dickson, 8 Samu Manoa, 7 Phil Dowson, 6 Tom Wood, 5 Christian Day, 4 Courtney Lawes, 3 Brian Mujati, 2 Dylan Hartley (captain), 1 Soane Tonga'uiha.
Replacements: 16 Mike Haywood, 17 Alex Waller, 18 Paul Doran Jones, 19 GJ van Velze, 20 Calum Clark, 21 Martin Roberts, 22 Ryan Lamb, 23 Tom May.

Referee: Greg Garner
Assistant Referees: Stuart Terheege & Kevin Stewart

Saracens 47-17 Worcestor Warriors

An electric treble from David Strettle inside the opening 25 minutes helped Saracens ease past Worcester Warriors at Allianz Park - the hosts securing a Premiership home semifinal with a 47-17 win.

There was also a try for replacement prop Carlos Nieto and the resurgent Chris Ashton, as well as 17 points from the boot of Charlie Hodgson, as the 2011 champions tightened their grip on top spot.

Strettle was the main beneficiary of a free-flowing encounter that was aided by warm conditions, but Richard Hill's side also contributed ably despite not having won a game away from Sixways since a 6-0 victory at London Wasps on New Year's Day 2012.

In fact, it was the Warriors who made the early running, putting together some concerted pressure from the kick-off and winning a penalty on Saracens' 22 after referee Tim Wigglesworth penalised Matt Stevens for failing to roll away from a tackle.

Flyhalf Danny Gray converted a straightforward chance to put Worcester 3-0 ahead early on, but that lead was immediately cancelled out when Charlie Hodgson replied with a penalty of his own to punish Josh Drauniniu for getting isolated at a ruck close to his own 10-metre line.

The next 20 minutes belonged exclusively to Strettle, who extended his tally to eight tries in his last Premiership games, who starred at the heart of some exceptional running rugby as Mark McCall's team exploded into life.

His first score came at the end of a sweeping backline move that showcased very slick handling from Joel Tomkins and Ashton, creating just enough space for the wing to bolt over just inside the left-hand touchline.

Hodgson missed the conversion after failing to negotiate a tricky breeze, but made amends by capitalising on a simpler chance when Worcester gave away a penalty for getting offside in midfield.

Having stretched to an 11-3 lead, Saracens had their tails up and were boosted further as Strettle's stunning 60-metre solo break allowed him to round Warriors fullback Chris Pennell and cross the line.

Hodgson added the extras and was soon on the front foot igniting his backs once more. Following a prolonged period of territorial dominance, Strettle went over from close range to seal his hat-trick and put the home side 23-3 ahead.

Though Saracens were threatening to cut loose at point-per-minute pace, a searing outside break from centre Alex Grove allowed Drauniniu to outpace the cover defence and dent the arrears.

The impressive Gray landed a tough conversion and, although Stevens and Rhys Gill - on his 100th appearance - were causing trouble for the Warriors' scrum, Worcester finished the first half strongly.

That momentum continued after the break as well, Matt Kvesic bundling over at the back of a line-out drive in the right-hand corner. Another well-struck conversion by Gray gave the West Midlands outfit hope, hauling them to within a score of the league leaders.

However, those were to prove the visitors final points of an ultimately fruitless afternoon, Saracens pulling away on the back of a powerful display as the imposing experience of their bench shone through.

As Worcester chased the game against the wind, Nieto and Ashton each grabbed converted tries - the former an extremely popular effort with the sell-out crowd to secure the bonus point - before a late Hodgson penalty turned the screw.

Finally, with 80 minutes on the clock, the industrious Jackson Wray shunted through Worcester's fringe defence to give the scoreline a somewhat flattering sheen.

But no doubt the majority inside the Allianz Park will be hoping to make their way to the Premiership Rugby Final at Twickenham on May 25 if this performance is anything to go by.

The scorers:

For Saracens:
Tries: Strettle 3, Nieto, Ashton, Wray
Cons: Hodgson 4
Pens: Hodgson 3

For Worcestor Warriors:
Tries: Drauniniu, Kvesic
Cons: Gray 2
Pen: Gray

The teams:

Saracens: 15 Chris Wyles, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Joel Tomkins, 12 Brad Barritt, 11 David Strettle, 10 Charlie Hodgson, 9 Neil De Kock, 8 Jackson Wray, 7 Jacques Burger, 6 Kelly Brown (captain), 5 Mouritz Botha, 4 George Kruis, 3 Matt Stevens, 2 John Smit, 1 Rhys Gill.
Replacements: 16 Jamie George, 17 Mako Vunipola, 18 Carlos Nieto, 19 Eoin Sheriff, 20 Justin Melck, 21 Richard Wigglesworth, 22 Alex Goode, 23 Duncan Taylor.

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

Referee: Tim Wigglesworth
Assistant Referees: Andrew Watson & Ian Tempest.

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