Unbeaten Sarries out of reach

Sat, 05 Oct 2013 20:40
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Saracens continued their unbeaten Premiership streak and stretched their lead at the top of the table to six points with a 19-12 victory over London Wasps.

Saracens continued their unbeaten Premiership streak and stretched their lead at the top of the table to six points with a 19-12 victory over London Wasps.

With Northampton Saints and Leicester Tigers playing out to a draw, Saracens did not falter and put some daylight between themselves and the chasing pack.

At the other end of the table Mike Blair scored his first Premiership try for Newcastle Falcons since his summer move from Brive as his side took their second victory of the season and ensured Worcester Warriors winless streak continues.

Blair Cowan and Alex Lewington both went over in the space of three second-half minutes as London Irish held off Harlequins to claim a deserved win in the Premiership.

We take a look at all of Saturday's matches:

Leicester Tigers 19-19 Northampton Saints

It was honours even at Welford Road as Leicester Tigers and Northampton Saints ended the afternoon all square on 19-19 after an intensely fought East Midlands derby.

Alex Corbisiero's try at the start of the second half and 14 points from the boot of Stephen Myler had looked like giving the Saints their first victory in nine games against Leicester.

But with five minutes remaining Ed Slater plunged over the line for the Tigers and Toby Flood added the conversion to break Northampton hearts.

From the kick off Leicester winger Blaine Scully was took a high ball and was felled by a high straight arm from Northampton No.8 Sam Dickinson, with Scully receiving extensive treatment on the pitch inside the opening minute.

Then from a lineout Ben Youngs was tripped by the prone Phil Dowson giving Flood a shot at the posts, but he pushed the penalty wide of the left upright.

A big hit by Courtney Lawes on Anthony Allen saw the England lock turnover the ball and set up a Saints attack, which ended with Leicester pinged for not rolling away from the tackle.

That gave Stephen Myler a penalty attempt from near halfway and the flyhalf made no mistake to put Northampton 3-0 up inside eight minutes.

Saints were reduced to 14 men when centre Leroy Burrell was sent to the sin-bin for a tip-tackle on Allen, Flood slotting the penalty to get his side back on level terms.

From a Northampton attacking scrum the bullocking Dickinson slipped his tackler and won a penalty from Julian Salvi for entering the ruck from the side, with Myler sending the kick between the posts.

With 15 minutes to the interval Burrell returned to the field as Myler lined up another shot at goal after Tom Youngs was pinged for not releasing in the tackle, and he made it 9-3.

Flood had an immediate chance to reduce the deficit when Dowson was penalised for not moving away from the tackle and he made no mistake off the tee.

A lovely grubber kick from Foden gave George North a glorious chance to score the first try of the afternoon but the Welsh wing failed to collect the ball and the opportunity went begging.

Flood got the second half off to a bad start for the home side, kicking straight into touch. And he then missed his second kick at goal from in front of the posts after the Saints front row were penalised at the scrum.

The Leicester flyhalf was made to pay for his profligacy as Saints probed down the flanks through North and Dickinson before Myler took them to within feet of the whitewash and Alex Corbisiero burrowed over the line. Myler's conversion from the left touchline made it 16-6, forcing Leicester to press with added urgency.

Flood finally got his radar working again after the Saints coughed up another penalty at the breakdown, to pull Leicester with seven points of their east midlands rivals.

Northampton got their power game working, however, with punishing runs from Lawes, North and Manoa forcing the Tigers back to their own line where Dickson thought he had grounded the ball only for the TMO to judge it had been held up.

Leicester's first real foray into the Saints 22 saw Flood break past his man and find Crane but a poor ball to Adam Thompstone halted the move short of the try line.

They kept the pressure on and some fantastic passing found Ed Slater in space only for the Leicester man to fumble at the vital moment.

A Myler penalty after Leicester were pinged for standing up in the scrum made the gap ten points with 13 minutes to play.

Both sides found themselves down to 14 men when Lawes was sent to the bin for not rolling away from the tackle and Louis Deacon joined him for an injudicious choice of words to referee JP Doyle.

Flood kicked the penalty and the gap was back to seven points, and Leicester flooded forward in search of the try that would bring them level.

And they found it when Slater plunged over the line after a series of lineouts on the Northampton five-metre line to secure just a second Premiership draw between the sides, and the first since 1998.

For Leicester:
Con: Flood
Pens: Flood 4

For Northampton Saints:
Con: Myler
Pens: Myler 4

Leicester: 15 Niall Morris, 14 Blaine Scully, 13 Vereniki Goneva, 12 Anthony Allen, 11 Adam Thompstone, 10 Toby Flood (captain), 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Jordan Crane, 7 Julian Salvi, 6 Ed Slater, 5 Graham Kitchener, 4 Louis Deacon, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Tom Youngs, 1 Logovi'i Mulipola.
Replacements: 16 Neil Briggs, 17 Boris Stankovich, 18 Fraser Balmain, 19 Sebastian de Chaves , 20 Jamie Gibson, 21 Sam Harrison, 22 Owen Williams, 23 Dan Bowden.

Northampton Saints: 15 Ben Foden, 14 Jamie Elliott, 13 George Pisi, 12 Luther Burrell, 11 George North, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Lee Dickson, 8 Sam Dickinson, 7 Phil Dowson, 6 Tom Wood, 5 Samu Manoa, 4 Courtney Lawes, 3 Tom Mercey, 2 Dylan Hartley (captain), 1 Alex Corbisiero.
Replacements: 16 Mike Haywood, 17 Alex Waller, 18 Gareth Denman, 19 GJ Van Velze, 20 Calum Clark, 21 Kahn Fotuali'i, 22 James Wilson, 23 Ken Pisi.

Referee: J P Doyle
Assistant referees: Paul Dix and Robin Goodliffe

Worcestor Warriors 11-16 Newcastle Falcons

Mike Blair scored his first Premiership try for Newcastle Falcons since his summer move from Brive as his side took their second victory of the season and ensured Worcester Warriors winless streak continues.

The Falcons, looking to bounce back from last weekend's 16-22 loss to London Wasps, burst out of the traps, racing into a 13-0 lead inside 22 minutes thanks to Blair's converted try either side of two Rory Clegg penalties.

Warriors fought their way back into game with two Ignacio Mieres penalties and David Lemi's second-half try reducing the difference to two points but Phil Godman's late penalty made sure of the win.

Newcastle's first score came as early as the third minute as Clegg slotted over a penalty from 22 metres out after Worcester were penalised for not releasing.

And they extended their lead five minutes later as Noah Cato charged towards the Worcester line, and although held up one metre out, Carlo Del Fava picked up the loose ball to feed Blair to cross, with Clegg adding the extras.

Clegg was proving to be a real handful for Warriors, with his distribution as well as his kicking looking in good touch, as his side continued their high tempo start.

The home side's afternoon was made worse on 19 minutes when Ravai Fatiaki picked up an injury, and was replaced by Alex Grove - the Scottish international coming on for his first appearance of the season following a groin injury.

Falcons had another chance to keep the scoreboard ticking over, when referee Martin Fox handed them a penalty after Warriors collapsed the scrum, with Clegg duly converting to take it to 13-0.

Warriors best move came shortly afterwards, as Josh Drauniniu made up 20 metres with a foraging run into the Falcon's half helping them to gain a penalty but Mieres dragged his effort wide.

But it appeared to have given the home side the boost they needed as another passage of good possession saw Newcastle penalised for offside, with Mieres pushing the kick into the far corner but it came to nothing.

They continued to apply the pressure, and came close to a try as Chris Pennell kicked before running on, but the TMO ruled that Grove had reached the ball in the corner first before the chasing Pennell.

However with referee Fox having played advantage, play was taken back for an earlier penalty and Mieres made no mistake, slotting through a simple kick in front of the posts to take his side to 13-3 on 33 minutes.

In contrast to the start of the match, Worcester were finishing the half strongly and found themselves a man up as Oliver Thomaszyczyk, making his return to Sixways, was sent to the sin bin for persistent infringement as Newcastle's penalty count continued to rise.

Although the stronger, Warriors were unable to make the man advantage count before the break though as the teams headed into half-time with Falcons leading 13-3.

Warriors again came out the stronger, camping inside's Newcastle's 22 for several phases and were rewarded when Meires was awarded a simple penalty in front of the posts to reduce the gap to seven points.

Worcester rang the changes after the break with all five replacements coming on, including back row Cameron Goodhue for his Warriors debut following his switch from the Blues.

And with 12 minutes remaining, Warriors set things up for a lively finish as a period of considerable pressure from the forwards saw winger David Lemi push over the line, replacement flyhalf Paul Warwick missing the conversion to leave the score at 11-13.

Newcastle looked to respond with replacement Chris York stretching for the line following a break away.

The back row came up short but he was adjudged to have been fouled, leaving another replacement Phil Godman to tap over a simple penalty in front of the posts and extend their lead to five points.

Warriors applied the pressure late on in search of the try but Falcons held firm, leaving the home side to fall to their tenth Premiership defeat in a row.

For Worcester:
Pens: Mieres 2

For Newcastle:
Con: Clegg
Pens: Clegg 2

Worcester: 15 Chris Pennell, 14 Josh Drauniniu, 13 Ravai Fatiaki, 12 Josh Matavesi, 11 David Lemi, 10 Ignacio Mieres, 9 Paul Hodgson, 8 Semisi Taulava, 7 Jake Abbott, 6 Jonathan Thomas (captain), 5 Chris Jones, 4 Mike Williams, 3 Euan Murray, 2 Ed Shervington, 1 Jeremy Becasseau.
Replacements: 16 Chris Brooker, 17 George Porter, 18 John Andress, 19 Dean Schofield, 20 Cam Goodhue, 21 Jeremy Su'a, 22 Paul Warwick, 23 Alex Grove.

Newcastle: 15 Alex Tait, 14 Noah Cato, 13 Adam Powell, 12 James Fitzpatrick, 11 Tom Catterick, 10 Rory Clegg, 9 Mike Blair, 8 Ally Hogg, 7 Will Welch (captain), 6 Mark Wilson, 5 Dom Barrow, 4 Carlo del Fava, 3 Oliver Tomaszczyk, 2 Matt Thompson, 1 Rob Vickers.
Replacements: 16 George McGuigan, 17 Franck Montanella, 18 Scott Wilson, 19 Sean Tomes, 20 Chris York, 21 Warren Fury, 22 Phil Godman, 23 Ryan Shortland

Referee: Martin Fox
Assistant referees : Andrew Pearce and Nigel Carrick
TMO: Geoff Warren

Saracens 19-12 London Wasps

England flyhalf Owen Farrell stepped off the replacement's bench at the break to inspire Saracens to a tight win over London Wasps to maintain his club's 100 per cent start to the new season.

Alex Goode was played out of position at No.10 for the opening 40 minutes that saw just three points scored by Saracens as the home side failed to take advantage of an avalanche of first-half ball.

With Bath's George Ford and Gloucester's Freddie Burns breathing down Farrell's neck for a starting berth with England during this autumn's England internationals - the Saracens man put down a sizeable marker.

It took just five minutes of the second-half for Saracens to finally breach the London Wasps line following an explosive break from fit-again Will Fraser.

Despite knocking at the door for much of the second-half, Saracens made life difficult for themselves in the final quarter as Christian Wade brought London Wasps back to within five points of the hosts as he set-up Chris Bell for a score.

But Farrell steadied Saracens when he was needed most, kicking three late penalties to give the home side some much-needed breathing space in the final minutes.

With the final play of the game London Wasps secured a deserved bonus point as Bell scored his second try of the game and Goode added the crucial conversion.

Wasps, fresh from their maiden victory of the season over Worcester last week that ended an 11-game losing sequence, welcomed Ed Jackson back from illness and handed Joe Carlisle a start over Andy Goode at flyhalf.

For Saracens, director of rugby Mark McCall gave first starts of the campaign to Fraser and James Johnston in the pack, whilst Goode surprisingly filled the number 10 jersey over the rested Farrell.

It was England man, Goode, who then gave the home side the lead after five minutes, slotting a routine penalty from just outside the 22.

It was Wasps' first visit to Allianz Park and the away side were under pressure from the first whistle.

The Adams Park club had lost each of their last three fixtures with Saracens and relied on some last ditch defence and handling errors to keep the home side at bay.

Chris Ashton posed the greatest threat to the Wasps try-line, looking dangerous when cutting in off his wing and almost breaking though on a number occasions.

The 26-year-old potentially saw the contest as a straight shoot-out between himself and opposite number Christian Wade for a starting spot in England's autumn internationals.

Wasps struggled to get danger man Wade into the game in the first half and the task became tougher when England Saxon Kearnan Myall was shown a yellow card for an off the ball tackle on Fraser.

Goode failed to convert the resultant penalty and Saracens headed into half time with the slender 3-0 advantage.

Farrell's arrival prompted a new-found attacking confidence from Saracens and they crossed the London Wasps try-line after only five minutes through Fraser - with Farrell brilliantly adding the extras.

Just a minute earlier Saracens, who have not lost at home in the regular season Quins beat them at Wembley in March 2012, had also wasted a further opportunity to extend their advantage when Goode missed with a 44th minute penalty at goal.

As much as Saracens will be pleased to take the points and maintain their winning run in the Premiership this season - boss Mark McCall will be disappointed with the number of attacking opportunities that were missed.

London Wasps got back into the game as Wade beat three men inside a five metre space and combined with England lock Joe Launchbury to send skipper Chris Bell over on 64 minutes - unfortunately Andy Goode missed the simplest of conversions.

The strength of the Saracens squad showed in the closing minutes as on top of introducing England international Farrell, giant prop Mako Vunipola and also former international Mouritz Botha stepped off the replacement's bench.

Farrell extended their lead to 13-5 with a penalty on 68 minutes, while Goode's poor kicking performance continued for Wasps as he missed another shot at goal soon after.

The England No.10 added two further late penalties to keep London Wasps at arm's length, while wing Ashton was yellow carded late on for a deliberate knock-on when the visitors looked certain to score.

Wasps took full advantage of their numerical advantage with the last play of the game as Bell scored from a huge overlap and Goode made sure of the bonus point with a late conversion.

For Saracens:
Con: Farrell
Pens: Goode, Farrell 3

For London Wasps:
Bell 2
Con: Goode

Saracens: 15 Ben Ransom 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Joel Tomkins, 12 Chris Wyles, 11 Michael Tagicakibau, 10 Alex Goode 9 Neil de Kock, 8 Ernst Joubert (captain) 7 Will Fraser, 6 Jackson Wray, 5 George Kruis, 4 Alastair Hargreaves, 3 James Johnston, 2 Jamie George, 1 Rhys Gill.
Replacements: 16 Schalk Brits, 17 Mako Vunipola, 18 Petrus Du Plessis, 19 Mouritz Botha, 20 Kelly Brown, 21 Richard Wigglesworth, 22 Owen Farrell, 23 David Strettle

London Wasps: 15 Elliot Daly, 14 Christian Wade, 13 Chris Bell (captain), 12 Charlie Hayter, 11 Josh Bassett, 10 Joe Carlisle, 9 Charlie Davies, 8 Nathan Hughes, 7 Ashley Johnson, 6 Ed Jackson, 5 Kearnan Myall, 4 Joe Launchbury, 3 Jake Cooper-Woolley, 2 Carlo Festuccia, 1 Matt Mullan.
Replacements: 16 Tom Lindsay, 17 Simon McIntyre, 18 Will Taylor, 19 James Cannon, 20 Guy Thompson, 21 Jack Moates, 22 Andy Goode, 23 Ben Jacobs.

Referee: Luke Pearce

London Irish 18-13 Harlequins

Blair Cowan and Alex Lewington both went over in the space of three second-half minutes as London Irish held off Harlequins to claim a deserved win in the Premiership.

The Exiles had lost their last five clashes against Quins and few would have predicted a win at the Madejski Stadium after the hosts shipped 33 points before half-time against Bath Rugby last time out.

But after a tight first-half that saw Nick Evans and Shane Geraghty trade two penalties each for a 6-6 scoreline the game caught fire after the break.

And around the hour mark both Cowan and Lewington went over for tries to open up a 12-point lead.

Danny Care got one try back for the visitors but it was not enough as the Exiles held firm for their second win of the new season.

Kieran Low went off injured early on for Irish but it was they that had the first chance to open the scoring and Geraghty took full advantage, slotting over a sixth minute penalty after Quins scrumhalf Karl Dickson was pinged at the breakdown.

The Exiles were making much the brighter start as their defence, which conceded five tries in the first half at the Rec last weekend, was aggressive from the off and prevented Quins from getting their off-loading game into stride.

In the tenth minute Evans had the chance to level the scores but pulled a long-range penalty effort across the posts.

But the Kiwi flyhalf made no mistake at the second time of asking and the scores were level after the first 20 minutes.

The two backlines had not yet got going but England rising star Marland Yarde fired a warning shot with one of his first touches when he danced away from Ugo Monye down the left wing but the move broke down after Leo Halavatau knocked on.

Quins' chances of getting going were then handed another blow when Tom Casson limped off meaning Ben Botica came on at inside centre.

And on the half-hour mark Geraghty put the hosts back in front with another long-range penalty that shaved the uprights on its way through.

That kick seemed to fire up the visitors however and Quins came within a whisker of the first try when Evans just overegged his crossfield kick with winger Sam Smith away and clear down the right.

But they did not have to wait long to level the scores, Evans bisecting the posts from close range with a penalty to make it 6-6.

But when the half-time whistle blew it was certainly Irish in the ascendancy, a period of sustained pressure almost yielding a score before the 40 minutes were up.

The opening ten minutes of the second half were frantic but lacking in quality from both sides and it was Evans who wasted the first chance, pushing a penalty wide on 49 minutes.

Care was then introduced for Dickson to try and spark up the visiting backline at scrumhalf.

But having gained an England international Quins then lost one as skipper Chris Robshaw was removed, nursing an apparent shoulder problem, and Luke Wallace came on.

The next penalty that came Quins' way was then passed on to Botica but like his fellow Kiwi Evans, the left-footer could not pierce the uprights and the scores stayed level.

And just when it looked like Quins were starting to turn the screw it was Irish who notched the first try of the game, the impressive Cowan barging over from close range.

When Geraghty added the conversion the hosts were eyeing up a real shock result, 13-6 ahead with less than 20 minutes to go.

And it only got better for the Exiles as Topsy Ojo's initial break released Lewington and the winger jinked over for his first try for the club, Irish's second in the space of three minutes.

Geraghty could not add the conversion this time but at 18-6 and barely a quarter of an hour to go Quins' chances of a comeback appeared remote.

But Care sparked the revival, bursting clear down the short-side to canter under the posts and Evans' conversion made it 18-13 with ten minutes to go.

But try as they might in the closing stages Quins could not get through and Brian Smith's side held on for what could prove a pivotal win in their season.

For London Irish:
: Cowan, Lewington
Con: Geraghty
Pens: Geraghty

For Harlequins:
Try: Care
Con: Evans
Pens: Evans 2

London Irish: 15 Topsy Ojo, 14 Marland Yarde, 13 Fergus Mulchrone, 12 Eamonn Sheridan, 11 Alex Lewington, 10 Shane Geraghty, 9 Tomás O'Leary (captain), 8 Ofisa Treviranus, 7 Blair Cowan, 6 Kieran Low, 5 Ian Gough, 4 George Skivington, 3 Leo Halavatau, 2 David Paice, 1 John Yapp.
Replacements: 16 Jimmy Stevens, 17 Matt Parr, 18 Jamie Hagan, 19 Ian Gough, 20 Jebb Sinclair, 21 Sailosi Tagicakibau, 22 Myles Dorrian, 23 Darren Allinson.

Harlequins: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Sam Smith, 13 Matt Hopper, 12 Tom Casson, 11 Ugo Monye, 10 Nick Evans, 9 Karl Dickson, 8 Tom Guest, 7 Chris Robshaw (captain), 6 Maurie Fa'asavalu, 5 George Robson, 4 Nick Easter, 3 Will Collier, 2 Rob Buchanan, 1 Joe Marler
Replacements: 16 Dave Ward, 17 Mark Lambert, 18 Kyle Sinckler, 19 George Merrick, 20 Luke Wallace, 21 Danny Care, 22 Ben Botica, 23 Charlie Walker.

Referee: David Rose
Assistant referees: Kevin Stuart & Roger Baileff
TMO: David Sainsbury

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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