Louw stars as Bath edge Tigers
Francois Louw's late try against Leicester Tigers clinched a thrilling 27-26 victory for Bath to keep alive their hopes of a top-six Premiership finish.
Francois Louw's late try against Leicester Tigers clinched a thrilling 27-26 victory for Bath to keep alive their hopes of a top-six Premiership finish.
It was the Tigers who led by a point at the interval despite being out-scored by three tries to two with converted tries from Tom Croft and Ben Youngs and two penalties from Toby Flood putting them 20-19 up.
But while Flood kicked two further penalties after the break to one from Bath's Tom Heathcote, the home side secured the victory at the last when, following first-half scores from Simon Taylor, Semesa Rokoduguni and Horacio Agulla, Louw swooped for the bonus-point try.
Leicester began the strongest and after Bath were penalised for not rolling away Toby Flood put the Tigers 3-0 ahead.
Bath flyhalf Stephen Donald was presented with the chance to level the scores just one minute after a big hit from Ben Williams earned a penalty but the Kiwi's kick drifted wide.
Leicester failed to heed the warning and two minutes later the home side were ahead when Donald and then the rampaging Rob Webber punched holes in the Tigers defence and Taylor crossed for the first try of the game.
Ollie Devoto added the extras but Leicester hit back immediately with Ben Youngs changing direction before Croft stepped past Devoto and touched down.
Flood duly converted for a 10-7 lead but just as the Tigers were looking to build on their advantage they were caught out by flying Fijian Rokoduguni who intercepted the ball on half-way before sprinting to the line.
Devoto's conversion attempt was just wide and after Flood kicked the Tigers 13-12 ahead from the tee they away side stretched their advantage thanks to a moment of brilliance from Youngs.
The England scrumhalf took a quick tap-and-go penalty inside his own 22 and slalomed his way through Bath's scrambling defenders to touch down and Flood duly converted to stretch the advantage to 22-12.
A fine break from Mat Tait looked to have created a third try for the Tigers but Matt Smith dotted the ball down he was denied the try for a forward pass in the build up.
The game continued at a relentless pace and though Donald failed to narrow the deficit when he missed with his penalty attempt Bath were to trial but just a point at the break.
It was Donald who provided the spark with a chip to find Agulla following a lineout and the Argentine wing was not to be denied.
Donald converted to send Bath in 19-20 down at half time and the gap crept out to four t the start of the second half when Flood kicked another penalty and he made it four successful penalty kicks from four attempts soon after.
Bath sent on Heathcote for the impressive Williams and two minutes later the 21-year-old slotted a penalty from distance.
Rokoduguni slipped at the vital moment and then Heathcote struck the post with another penalty as both sides continued to take advantage of the fabulous conditions.
Bath were never going to die wondering and after a powerful break from Anthony Perenise the ball was off-loaded to Louw who swallow dived over the line.
Heathcote failed with the conversion attempt but Bath led 27-26 with six minutes remaining and despite desperate late Leicester attacking the Tigers were beaten.
Tries: Taylor, Rokoduguni, Agulla, Louw
Cons: Devoto, Donald
Tries: Croft, Youngs
Cons: Flood 2
Pens: Flood 4
Bath: 15 Ollie Devoto, 14 Semesa Rokoduguni, 13 Ben Williams, 12 Kyle Eastmond, 11 Horacio Agulla, 10 Stephen Donald, 9 Michael Claassens, 8 Simon Taylor, 7 Guy Mercer, 6 Francois Louw (captain), 5 Dave Attwood, 4 Dominic Day, 3 David Wilson, 2 Rob Webber, 1 Paul James.
Replacements: 16 Eusebio Guinazu, 17 Nathan Catt, 18 Anthony Perenise, 19 Will Spencer, 20 Mat Gilbert, 21 Nick Koster, 22 Peter Stringer, 23 Tom Heathcote.
Leicester: 15 Mathew Tait, 14 Matt Smith, 13 Manusamoa Tuilagi, 12 Anthony Allen, 11 Adam Thompstone, 10 Toby Flood (captain), 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Thomas Waldrom, 7 Julian Salvi, 6 Tom Croft, 5 Geoff Parling, 4 Steve Mafi, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Tom Youngs, 1 Logovi'i Mulipola.
Replacements: 16 Rob Hawkins, 17 Fraser Balmain, 18 Martin Castrogiovanni, 19 Ed Slater, 20 Jordan Crane, 21 Sam Harrison, 22 Dan Bowden, 23 Geordan Murphy.
Referee: Tim Wigglesworth
Assistant referees: Ashley Rowden, Andrew Pearce
TMO: Trevor Fisher
Northampton Saints 47-7 Sale Sharks
Northampton Saints booked a place in the Premiership play-off semifinals for the fourth successive season with a resounding 47-7 win against Sale Sharks at Franklin's Gardens.
Jim Mallinder's men knew four points would be enough to guarantee a top-four finish and they had the job done by half-time thanks to three first-half tries.
Tom Wood, Lee Dickson and Luther Burrell all cashed in as Sale were blown away, going in at the break 25-0 down.
And it didn't get much easier in the second half as Saints stepped on the gas to claim four more tries, two apiece from Jamie Elliott and replacement James Wilson.
James Gaskell did get a try with the final play of the game for the Sharks, Danny Cipriani converting, but it was barely any consolation for the away side.
Saints started how they meant to go on as flyhalf Stephen Myler, who ended up with 12 points to his name, slotted two early penalties.
Sale were struggling to get out of their own half and the first try of the game wasn't far away as Wood touched down for Saints following determined work from Ken Pisi.
It was 13-0 and Northampton were doing all the running and a few minutes later Dickson was allowed to dive over from a quick tap and go, with Myler adding the extras.
Burrell, against his former club, was next to cash in, touching down from Tom May's clever grubber kick, but Myler this time hit the wrong side of the post with the conversion.
Still, Saints had a huge 25-0 lead and they were closing in on a bonus point and a place in the play-offs.
They thought they had the fourth try early in the second half as Samu Manoa, on for the injured Christian Day, went over, but the big American was denied by the TMO.
Sale altered their pack, bringing on Aston Croall and Josh Beaumont in a bid to stem the tide, while Jonny Leota was doing his best to bring some crash, bang and wallop to the game.
But Saints weren't fazed and, with less than 25 minutes to go, they had their fourth try and the bonus point as Elliott flew over.
The wing added Northampton's fifth and his second soon after before replacement James Wilson also doubled up.
Gaskell dived over late on for Sale, Cipriani taking their tally to a meagre seven, but Saints had claimed a convincing win that will stand them in good stead for a title push.
Tries: Wood, Dickson, Burrell, Elliott 2, Wilson 2
Cons: Myler 2, Lamb
Pens: Myler 2
Northampton: 15 Ben Foden, 14 Ken Pisi, 13 Tom May, 12 Luther Burrell, 11 Jamie Elliott, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Lee Dickson, 8 GJ van Velze, 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 Samu Manoa, 20 Calum Clark, 21 Martin Roberts, 22 Ryan Lamb, 23 James Wilson.
Sale Sharks: 15 Mike Haley, 14 Tom Brady, 13 Mark Cueto, 12 Jonny Leota, 11 Charlie Amesbury, 10 Danny Cipriani, 9 Dwayne Peel, 8 James Gaskell, 7 David Seymour (captain), 6 Richie Vernon, 5 Tom Holmes, 4 Kearnan Myall, 3 Henry Thomas, 2 Tommy Taylor, 1 Ross Harrison.
Replacements: 16 Marc Jones, 17 James Flynn, 18 Aston Croall, 19 Josh Beaumont, 20 James Doyle, 21 Nathan Fowles, 22 Sam James, 23 Charlie Ingall.
Referee: Luke Pearce
Assistant referees: Andrew Watson, Kevin Stewart
TMO: Graham Hughes
Gloucester 28-23 Saracens
Jonny May did his England prospects no harm with two tries as Gloucester stunned Premiership leaders Saracens at Kingsholm.
The flying winger struck twice in the first half against a Saracens side who struggled to get going having already secured a home semifinal spot.
Gloucester's high energy kicking game caused uncertainty in the Saracens ranks, with the visitors unable to capitalise on Dan Robson's second half yellow card as the home side tired. Victory kept Gloucester in the hunt for a play-off spot, although they need other results to go their way.
The Cherry and Whites took an early lead when Freddie Burns was successful with his first penalty shot at goal of the afternoon.
With both sides playing for territory the ball was airborn for extended periods in the early stages, but the first try of the afternoon showed the raw pace of May in full flight.
The Swindon-born flyer found space out wide to outpace the cover defence and touch down in the corner, although Burns failed to add the extras as the wind carried his conversion to the right of the posts and it stayed 8-0.
Sarries, who looked shellshocked in the first few minutes, got themselves on the scoreboard through an Owen Farrell penalty after ten minutes.
And they found themselves ahead with a quarter of the game gone when referee JP Doyle gave the Fez Heads an advantage and Gloucester stopped expecting a penalty, allowing Joel Tomkins to run in under the posts unchallenged.
Farrell's conversion gave Sarries a 10-8 lead against the run of play. And he extended it shortly afterwards when the visitors won a penalty 35 metres out when their powerful pack marched Gloucester back in the scrum.
Leading 13-8, Sarries - who lost Will Fraser early on to injury, the back rower replaced by Jacques Burger - looked to have weathered the early storm only for May to turn the game on his head with his second score of the day.
Gloucester moved the ball through the hands and an inch-perfect grubber kick from Burns took the Sarries defence out of the game allowing May to race through and touch down just inside the dead ball line. Burns nailed the conversion 15 metres in from the left touchline to give Gloucester a lead they never relinquished.
A deliberate knock-on from Sarries under pressure gave Burns an easier shot at goal and he made no mistake three minutes before the break to send the Cherry and Whites in 18-13 up at the break.
After the restart Gloucester's high intensity kick chase seemed to ease giving Sarries more of a say in the game. The visitors worked a three-on-one overlap out wide but Richard Wigglesworth decided to cut back inside and the chance went begging.
The uncertainty in their ranks was summed up, however, when Farrell threw an interception pass to Burns and full-back Andy Goode allowed the flyhalf's grubber kick to bounce only for Twelvetrees to pick up and drive five metres from the Saracens line.
The chance came to nothing, but despite another Farrell penalty Saracens didn't look the unstoppable powerhouse of recent weeks.
And Ben Morgan made them pay when the big No.8 received the ball 30 metres out, brushed off three unconvincing Saracens tacklers and ran in to score on his first start for Gloucester since January, Burns making it 25-15 with the conversion on the hour.
Three minutes later Gloucester lost scrumhalf Dan Robson to the sin bin and a Mako Vunipola offload set up the impressive Tomkins for his second try of the day.
A fantastic conversion from Farrell set up a crackerjack finish, as Peter Buxton took to the field to cap his career as a Gloucester player but Saracens failed to crack a resolute Cherry and Whites defence.
And a last-minute Burns penalty saw Gloucester home, keeping their play-off hopes alive, for a few hours at least.
Tries: May 2, Morgan
Cons: Burns 2
Pens: Burns 3
Tries: Tomkins 2
Cons: Farrell 2
Pens: Farrell 3
Gloucester: 15 Rob Cook, 14 Charlie Sharples, 13 Henry Trinder, 12 Billy Twelvetrees, 11 Jonny May, 10 Freddie Burns, 9 Dan Robson, 8 Ben Morgan 7 Akapusi Qera, 6 Sione Kalamafoni, 5 Lua Lokotui, 4 Tom Savage (captain), 3 Shaun Knight, 2 Koree Britton, 1 Nick Wood.
Replacements: 16 Tommaso d'Apice, 17 Dan Murphy, 18 Yann Thomas, 19 Peter Buxton, 20 Andy Hazell, 21 Dave Lewis, 22 Ryan Mills, 23 Martyn Thomas.
Saracens: 15 Alex Goode, 14 Chris Wyles, 13 Joel Tomkins, 12 Owen Farrell, 11 David Strettle, 10 Charlie Hodgson, 9 Richard Wigglesworth, 8 Ernst Joubert, 7 Will Fraser, 6 Jackson Wray, 5 Alistair Hargreaves, 4 Steve Borthwick (captain), 3 Matt Stevens, 2 John Smit, 1 Rhys Gill.
Replacements: 16 Jamie George, 17 Mako Vunipola, 18 Carlos Nieto, 19 George Kruis, 20 Jacques Burger, 21 Ben Spencer, 22 Duncan Taylor, 23 Joe Maddock.
Referee: JP Doyle
Assistant referees: Peter Huckle, Paul Burton
London Irish 47-28 London Welsh
Halani Aulika took his try tally into double figures for the season as he powered London Irish to a 47-28 win in the Premiership against London Welsh.
Already guaranteed to finish bottom of the table there was little to cheer for Lyn Jones whose side shipped seven tries at the Madejski Stadium.
Aulika went over twice, as did centre Guy Armitage while Matt Garvey, Sailosi Tagicakibau and Chris Hala'ufia all crossed once for the hosts.
The game was tight up until the hour mark however, some accurate kicking from Gordon Ross in addition to tries from Seb Stegmann and Nick Scott keeping Welsh in the game.
Greg Bateman did cross for a late consolation for the visitors but the damage was already done by then as Aulika moved to 11 tries for the season in all competitions.
Former Scotland international flyhalf Ross was off target with a couple of early penalties but was unerring thereafter from the kicking tee, opening the scoring with his third attempt in the sixth minute.
Irish's first try came from Armitage just moments later however, the centre breaking a couple of tackles to dive over after being fed by Tom Homer, Ian Humphreys adding the conversion.
Stegmann, who was playing at outside centre rather than on the wing, had already made two clean breaks in the opening exchanges but both times Lyn Jones' side failed to make the most of the initial advance.
But Irish clearly had not learned their lesson because moments later the former Quins man was over for Welsh's first try, diving over to make it 8-7 to the visitors, Ross missing with the conversion.
It was a breathless first half full of running rugby and Humphreys burst clear as Irish continued to carry the more potent attacking threat, Tagicakibau also carrying with real menace.
Quite how Brian Smith's side had not added a second try was a credit to some last-gasp scramble defence from Welsh as well as a lack of killer instinct from the hosts.
And it was Welsh who added the second try somewhat against the run of play, Stegmann again involved with a fine initial break that saw Scott dive over in the corner, Ross' conversion taking it to 15-7.
But Irish were soon back in contention and it was that man Aulika, the prop diving over from close range with Humphreys' conversion making it 14-15 to the visitors with a few minutes to go until the interval.
But Irish were back in front before the break, Marland Yarde was tackled centimetres short of the tryline but Hala'ufai found space to barrel over for Irish's third try of the first half to make it 19-15.
Straight after the interval Aulika bagged his second, picking up and driving over from short range as Hala'ufia forced his teammate over the line.
Humphreys' conversion went over off the post to put Irish 26-15 to the good but Welsh were not going to roll over and Ross' two penalties in quick succession meant that with the hour mark approaching Welsh were only down 26-21.
Still it was Irish who carried the greater attacking threat though and only a George Skivington knock on prevented their fifth try of the game.
With Aulika desperately searching for his hat-trick it was Tagicakibau who scored the decisive try as he went over in the corner, Humphrey's conversion stretching the lead out to 33-21.
The departing Garvey then celebrated his last game in Irish colours with the sixth try before Armitage scored his second, Bateman adding a late consolation try for the visitors.
For London Irish:
Tries: Armitage 2, 'Aulika 2, Hala'ufia, Tagicakibau, Garvey
Cons: Humphreys 6
For London Welsh:
Tries: Stegmann, Scott, Bateman
Pens: Ross 3
London Irish: 15 Tom Homer, 14 Marland Yarde, 13 Guy Armitage, 12 Steven Shingler, 11 Sailosi Tagicakibau, 10 Ian Humphreys, 9 Darren Allinson, 8 Chris Hala'ufia, 7 Ofisa Treviranus, 6 Matt Garvey, 5 Bryn Evans, 4 George Skivington (captain), 3 Halani Aulika, 2 David Paice, 1 Alex Corbisiero.
Replacements: 16 Scott Lawson, 17 Jerry Yanuyanutawa, 18 Leo Halavatau, 19 Kieran Low, 20 Declan Danaher, 21 Topsy Ojo, 22 Shane Geraghty, 23 Jack Moates.
London Welsh: 15 Tom Arscott, 14 Nick Scott, 13 Seb Stegmann, 12 Sonny Parker, 11 Dan Caprice, 10 Gordon Ross (captain), 9 Tyson Keats, 8 Daniel Browne, 7 Michael Hills, 6 Julio Cabello Farias, 5 Kirill Kulemin, 4 Matt Corker, 3 Paulica Ion, 2 Greg Bateman, 1 Tom Bristow.
Replacements: 16 Dan George, 17 Arthur Joly, 18 James Tideswell, 19 Adam Brown, 20 Adam Balding, 21 Rob Lewis, 22 Alex Davies, 23 Joe Ajuwa.
Referee: Dean Richards
Assistant referees: Gareth Copsey, Nigel Carrick
Worcestor Warriors 26-42 Harlequins
Harlequins claimed maximum points to book their place in the Premiership semifinal and keep alive hopes of a home tie with victory at Worcester Warriors.
Both Danny Care - on his 100th Premiership appearance - and Nick Evans scored two tries apiece for the reigning champions as the Quins collected a bonus point with a 26-42 victory at Sixways.
The Warriors, in their first match since the departure of Richard Hill, twice led in the first period, and managed to keep in touch for the majority of the game, but they eventually fell to a 12th straight defeat against Conor O'Shea's men.
Tom Williams and Mike Brown also crossed for Quins, after Chris Pennell had given the hosts an early lead, Alex Grove also scoring.
The Warriors had started in the ascendancy and deservedly put the first points on the board when Pennell, making his 100th appearance for the club, finished off a fine move with a lung-busting run to the try-line from all of 40 metres out.
Prop Matt Mullan turned over possession and Andy Goode, in his final home appearance for the Warriors ahead of a summer move to London Wasps, was found in space. He released Josh Drauniniu and the winger fed Pennell to race away from and open the scoring, with Goode adding the extras.
Quins had showed little as an attacking threat by this point, but in the 15th minute Evans kicked a penalty to get the visitors on the scoreboard.
And Evans soon had his team in front after an attack in which the Warriors missed several tackles; the flyhalf diving over from close range before adding the conversion from dead centre for a 7-10 lead.
Goode brought the sides back level with a penalty in the 20th minute and two minutes later another Goode penalty had his side in front once more.
Care showed his England class in the 29th minute, fooling the Warriors defence with his quick feet and even quicker thinking, and he found Williams in space for the winger to saunter into the corner for a 13-15 lead.
Evans was unable to add the extras from a tight angle, and also missed another conversion attempt eight minutes later after Care added to his earlier assist with his first try.
Goode brought the Warriors back to within four points of the visitors with a late penalty making it 16-20 at the break, following an entertaining first period.
And the hosts had clearly been lifted by Goode's penalty as they started the second half on the attack and were soon back in front.
Still in the first minute after the break Pennell made another brilliant break, this time from around 60 metres out, beating four Quins players and the ball was relayed to Grove and he crashed over, Goode adding the extras.
And the former England international made it 26-20 with a cool penalty after Quins were penalised for being offside just inside the 22-metre line.
In a game in which neither side was letting the other gain control, Quins were once again indebted to the in-form Care when he restored their lead with a 49th minute try, though Evans was again off target from the conversion.
The Kiwi found his kicking boots to put his side ahead at 26-28 with a 54th-minute penalty.
Evans got his second try to give his side some breathing space when he fortunately held onto Joe Carlisle's attempted clearance and ran in from close range, before adding the extras.
Brown completed the scoring, with Evans converting his 71st minute try.
Tries: Pennell, Grove
Cons: Goode 2
Pens: Goode 4
Tries: Evans 2, Williams, Care 2, Brown
Cons: Evans 3
Pens: Evans 2
Worcester: 15 Chris Pennell, 14 Josh Drauniniu, 13 Alex Grove, 12 Jon Clarke, 11 Ben Howard, 10 Andy Goode, 9 Jonny Arr, 8 Semisi Taulava, 7 Matt Kvesic, 6 Neil Best, 5 Chris Jones, 4 James Percival (captain), 3 Euan Murray, 2 Ed Shervington, 1 Matt Mullan.
Replacements: 16 Aleki Lutui, 17 Rob O'Donnell, 18 John Andress, 19 Craig Gillies, 20 Jake Abbott, 21 Shaun Perry, 22 Danny Gray, 23 Joe Carlisle.
Harlequins: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Tom Williams, 13 George Lowe, 12 Jordan Turner-Hall, 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 Ross Chisholm.
Referee: Martin Fox
Assistant referees: Paul Dix, Stuart Terheege