Sarries, Warriors and Chiefs bag wins
SATURDAY PREMIERSHIP WRAP: Saracens, Bath and Worcester Warriors bagged victories in their Premiership Round Three matches on Saturday.
Saracens were pushed hard but showed their class in a 27-12 win over Northampton Saints. The first-half was level pegging with three penalties apiece for Stephen Myler and Alex Lozowski before the Saints flyhalf put the visitors back in front just after the break.
But Jamie George's try seconds after Alex Waller's yellow card turned the tide and they added a penalty try while Alex Waller was still in the bin to make it a two-score game. However, Saints could not find a way back as Saracens made it three from three in the league.
In another Saturday encounter, Bath scored four tries as they launched a stunning second-half comeback at the Rec to beat Worcester 37-22 and make it three wins out of three in the competition. Worcester lead 17-6 at half-time after tries from Niall Annett and Dean Hammond.
However, tries from Anthony Watson, Matt Banahan, Semesa Rokoduguni and Leroy Houston saw the hosts continue their strong start to the new season. Perry Humphreys scored Worcester's third try in the midst but it wasn't enough to earn a losing bonus point.
Elsewhere, Luke Cowan-Dickie rumbled over for a hat-trick of tries as Exeter Chiefs returned to form after fighting off a late comeback attempt by Harlequins to secure a 36-25. The result was rarely in doubt after Cowan-Dickie and Lachie Turner notched try doubles in a first half that gave Sandy Park plenty to cheer about.
Rob Buchanan had hit back for Harlequins before the break while Tim Swiel also hit two penalties, but upon Cowan-Dickie's third in the 48th minute, it looked game over. The visitors hit back through Danny Care and Charlie Walker, and the Chiefs had to see the game out with 14 men after Tomas Francis was sent off in the closing stages.
All Saturday's scores and scorers!
Saracens 27-12 Northampton Saints
Saints got off to the perfect start with an early three points from Myler after Michael Rhodes strayed offside. While Saracens were soon back level thanks to a penalty from Lozowski, and when Teimana Harrison was pinged at the breakdown, the flyhalf slotted a second to make it 6-3.
After a series of charges from the big Saints ball-carriers, a second penalty from Myler levelled the scores. Northampton made regular ground with ball in hand, with France No.8 Louis Picamoles enjoying himself with every charge over the gain line.
On the half-hour, Mako Vunipola found himself penalised at a scrum and, from 40 metres out, Myler made no mistake to put the visitors back in front. However, just before half-time, Saints were pinged for sealing off and Lozowski slotted his third penalty of the afternoon to level the scores at the break.
But when Richard Wigglesworth was penalised for a late shove on Waller, Myler added a fourth penalty of the game to make it 12-9. However soon after, Waller was sin-binned for a dangerous tackle on George, and Saracens chose to kick to the corner rather than take the points.
That decision proved a masterstroke as a quick lineout was returned to George by quick hands from Billy Vunipola and the hooker raced over. It was a ferocious game, with both teams willing to give it a go but the closer it got to the end, the more Saracens appeared in control.
And after their maul got the upper hand, Greg Garner gave them a penalty try for a Northampton collapse, with Lozowski's conversion making it 21-12. The momentum was all with Saracens, and Saints lost Sam Dickinson for persistent infringements with 10 minutes to go. Lozowski added three more from in front of the posts.
Tries: George, Penalty try
Pens: Lozowski 5
Pens: Myler 4
Yellow cards: Alex Waller (Northampton Saints, 56); Lee Dickson (Northampton Saints, 71)
Saracens: 15 Alex Goode, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Marcelo Bosch, 12 Brad Barritt (captain), 11 Chris Wyles, 10 Alex Lozowski, 9 Richard Wigglesworth, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Schalk Burger, 6 Michael Rhodes, 5 Jim Hamilton, 4 Maro Itoje, 3 Petrus Du Plessis, 2 Schalk Brits, 1 Mako Vunipola.
Replacements: 16 Jamie George, 17 Richard Barrington, 18 Juan Figallo, 19 Kelly Brown, 20 Jackson Wray, 21 Ben Spencer, 22 Duncan Taylor, 23 Sean Maitland.
Northampton Saints: 15 Ahsee Tuala, 14 Ken Pisi, 13 George Pisi, 12 Luther Burrell, 11 George North, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Lee Dickson, 8 Louis Picamoles, 7 Teimana Harrison, 6 Tom Wood (captain), 5 Michael Paterson, 4 Courtney Lawes, 3 Kieran Brookes, 2 Mikey Haywood, 1 Alex Waller.
Replacements: 16 Charlie Clare, 17 Campese Ma’a fu, 18 Paul Hill, 19 Sam Dickinson, 20 Jamie Gibson, 21 Nic Groom, 22 Harry Mallinder, 23 Ben Foden.
Referee: Gregory M Garner
Bath 37-22 Worcester Warriors
Wynand Olivier made the initial break from a Worcester set piece and the ball was eventually worked wide to Annett to touch down. Flyhalf Tom Heathcote, making his first start of the season, added the conversion to give the Warriors a 7-0 lead.
George Ford was on target with his second kick of the afternoon after 26 minutes after Worcester were penalised at the scrum to reduce the deficit. But Worcester had their second try eight minutes before half-time as Jamie Shillcock, making his Premiership debut, set up Hammond who evaded the tackle of Tom Homer to cross the whitewash.
Heathcote was once again on target with the conversion to make the score 14-3 and the flyhalf extended the visitors' lead with a penalty, as Guy Mercer was penalised for not rolling away. The hosts just had enough time for a second successful Ford penalty to make the score 17-6 at half-time.
Bath brought themselves right back into the game when Watson dotted down between the posts after Houston's break. Ford added the extras to make it 13-17 and Rokoduguni thought he had put the hosts into the lead shortly after but was adjudged to have knocked on after collecting Dan Bowden's kick.
A Bath penalty from the resulting scrum was kicked to the corner and from the resulting line-out, George Ford chipped the ball through for Banahan to reach highest and grab before grounding. Banahan, playing at outside centre, was instrumental in Bath's third try as he powered through the midfield before offloading to Rokoduguni to score.
Ford's conversion handed the home side a 30-17 lead.
The Warriors weren't finished yet though as Perry Humphreys held off Watson to score his side's third try of the afternoon with 15 minutes still to play and bring the score to 30-22.
The home side had their try bonus point five minutes later, as a quick penalty stretched the Worcester defence and No.8 Houston had plenty of space to score his 11th Premiership try. Ford's extras left Worcester empty handed.
Tries: Watson, Banahan, Rokoduguni, Houston
Cons: Ford 4
Pens: Ford 3
Tries: Annett, Hammond, Humphreys
Cons: Heathcote 2
Bath: 15 Tom Homer, 14 Semesa Rokoduguni, 13 Matt Banahan, 12 Dan Bowden, 11 Anthony Watson, 10 George Ford (captain), 9 Kahn Fotuali'i, 8 Leroy Houston, 7 David Sisi, 6 Charlie Ewels, 5 Dave Attwood, 4 Luke Charteris, 3 Henry Thomas, 2 Ross Batty, 1 Nick Auterac.
Replacements: 16 Tom Dunn, 17 Nathan Catt, 18 Kane Palma-Newport, 19 Elliott Stooke, 20 Zach Mercer, 21 Will Homer, 22 Aled Brew, 23 Jeff Williams.
Worcester Warriors: 15 Jamie Shillcock, 14 Dean Hammond, 13 Wynand Olivier, 12 Jackson Willison, 11 Perry Humphreys, 10 Tom Heathcote, 9 Jonny Arr, 8 Phil Dowson (captain), 7 Carl Kirwan, 6 Marco Mama, 5 Darren Barry, 4 Donncha O'Callaghan, 3 James Johnston, 2 Niall Annett, 1 Val Rapava Ruskin.
Replacements: 16 Jaba Bregvadze, 17 Na'ama Leleimalefaga, 18 Mike Daniels, 19 Christian Scotland-Williamson, 20 Tevita Cavubati, 21 Luke Baldwin, 22 Tiff Eden, 23 Josh Adams.
Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys
Exeter Chiefs 36-25 Harlequins
Exeter were looking to avoid successive defeats at Sandy Park for the first time since September 2014 and started as if they had a point to prove. Don Armand made the crucial break before Turner rumbled over the line following a series of pick-and-goes.
Chiefs capitalised on a Quins mistake shortly after, as Buchanan overthrew a lineout and from 10 metres out, Cowan-Dickie beat Luke Wallace and applied the finish. This time, Steenson was on target with the extras.
The alarm bells started to blare even louder for Harlequins in the 20th minute - the hugely impressive Turner running in from some 30 metres out after Olly Woodburn's superb break and offload caught the visitors flat-footed.
Steenson's conversion extended the scoreline to 19-6, though the third try was seemingly the jolt that Harlequins needed.
Moments after Marland Yarde nearly turned Danny Care's grubber into a try, Buchanan atoned for his errors from the line-out by touching down on the back of a maul. Swiel converted and suddenly it was a one-score game.
Exeter's forwards were on top and, in a flash, a scrum penalty turned into another rolling maul from which Cowan-Dickie grabbed his second of the day. The hosts ended the half camped on Harlequins' line, and though no try was forthcoming, Steenson opted to kick a penalty that sent Exeter 16 points clear at the break.
Another lineout miscue put Harlequins under immediate pressure in the second half and after prop Kyle Sinckler was pinged for collapsing a maul, the Chiefs went again from the set-piece. This time, the maul made its way over and Cowan-Dickie was the beneficiary once more to complete his treble, and Steenson made no mistake with the extras.
To their credit, Harlequins showed no signs of giving up and re-ignited hope with 15 minutes to go when Danny Care dashed through following a Mike Brown offload. A try-bonus point at the very least was then on for the away side when Marland Yarde and Charlie Walker combined for the latter to cross, though Swiel failed with the conversion.
With eight minutes to go, Francis was sent off for foul play in a ruck but Exeter got home and hosed.
Tries: Turner 2, Cowan-Dickie 3
Cons: Steenson 4
Tries: Buchanan, Care, Walker
Cons: Swiel 2
Pens: Swiel 2
Red card: Tomas Francis (Exeter Chiefs, 72 mins)
Exeter Chiefs: 15 Lachie Turner, 14 Olly Woodburn, 13 Ollie Devoto, 12 Henry Slade, 11 Ian Whitten, 10 Gareth Steenson (captain), 9 Will Chudley, 8 Thomas Waldrom, 7 Julian Salvi, 6 Don Armand, 5 Geoff Parling, 4 Mitch Lees, 3 Greg Holmes, 2 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 1 Ben Moon.
Replacements: 16 Jack Yeandle, 17 Alec Hepburn, 18 Tomas Francis, 19 Damian Welch, 20 Dave Dennis, 21 Dave Lewis, 22 Sam Hill, 23 James Short.
Harlequins: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Marland Yarde, 13 Joe Marchant, 12 Winston Stanley, 11 Charlie Walker, 10 Tim Swiel, 9 Danny Care (captain), 8 Jack Clifford, 7 Luke Wallace, 6 Chris Robshaw, 5 James Horwill, 4 Sam Twomey, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 2 Rob Buchanan, 1 Joe Marler.
Replacements: 16 Dave Ward, 17 Mark Lambert, 18 Will Collier, 19 George Merrick, 20 James Chisholm, 21 Karl Dickson, 22 James Lang, 23 Alofa Alofa.
Referee: Matthew Carley