Chiefs and Gloucester share the spoils
PREMIERSHIP SATURDAY WRAP: Damien Welch’s last-gasp try snatched a dramatic draw for Exeter Chiefs in an enthralling derby with Gloucester Rugby at Sandy Park.
Chiefs mauled their way over in the left-hand corner to tie the scores at 27-27 and Gareth Steenson failed to add the tricky conversion with the final kick of the match to ensure a share of the spoils.
*In the other matches on Saturday Tom Brady scored his first try of the Premiership season in Leicester Tigers 34-13 win against Worcester Warriors, while the Harlequins and Newcastle Falcons also secured victories.
We look at the Saturday matches!
Exeter Chiefs 27-27 Gloucester Rugby
Following a disappointing 15-6 defeat at the hands of Bath Rugby last week, Gloucester produced the perfect response with a hard-working, battling performance and will consider themselves unlucky not to have left with a second Premiership Rugby victory of the campaign.
They held a 17-14 lead at the break thanks largely to tries from the in-form Matt Scott and Charlie Sharples as Thomas Waldrom and Ian Whitten crossed for the hosts.
That advantage was extended after the interval as Ben Morgan plunged over but Whitten’s second score and a Steenson penalty set up a grandstand finish before Welch broke Cherry and White hearts.
After a cagey opening to the match, Gloucester were the catalyst for the game sparking into life on 11 minutes.
A neat line-out move helped open up the defence and neat hands from Mark Atkinson released Scott to go over underneath the posts for his fourth try of the campaign.
Greig Laidlaw duly slotted the extras but after a spell of pressure in the visiting 22, Chiefs got themselves back level as Waldrom barrelled over from five metres out and Steenson added the conversion.
The score was only 7-7 for a matter of moments however as, following Exeter confusion at the restart, Sharples won a high ball and marked his 200th competitive appearance for Gloucester in perfect fashion by cantering in for the score, Laidlaw again metronomic from the tee.
But on 31 minutes, the impressive Sam Hill – whose constant tackle-breaking had proved a thorn in the Cherry and Whites’ side – demonstrated his considerable pace to dart through the defence and offload to Whitten to finish.
Steenson’s simple conversion levelled the scores at 14-14 but a scrum penalty on halfway gave Billy Twelvetrees the opportunity to send Gloucester into the interval ahead and he slotted the long-range three-pointer to do just that.
A fast start to the second half was pivotal for Exeter but instead, they drifted further behind as Laidlaw missed one penalty attempt but nailed a second.
Sensing an opportunity to hammer home their advantage, the Cherry and Whites continued to press and got their reward with a 58th minute try through Morgan.
They stripped the ball on halfway and broke down the left before feeding the England No.8 to dive over, with Laidlaw’s successful conversion giving them a 13-point lead.
Chiefs’ defence then held firm as Gloucester looked to kill the game off and, after winning a scrum turnover in their own 22, they scored a few minutes later as Lachlan Turner offloaded out of the tackle to give Whitten the simplest of finishes.
Steenson was off-target with the left wing conversion but when the visitors were penalised with nine minutes remaining, the long-serving Exeter flyhalf bisected the posts with the three-pointer to narrow the deficit to 27-22.
The veteran then booted a penalty deep into Gloucester territory with a minute remaining and from the resulting line-out, Exeter produced an inexorable driving maul in the left-hand corner of which Welch was the beneficiary.
Steenson had a chance to win it for the hosts but his conversion dropped short to ensure Gloucester earned a second Premiership Rugby draw of the season.
Tries: Waldrom, Whitten 2, Welch
Cons: Steenson 2
Tries: Scott, Sharples, Morgan
Cons: Laidlaw 3
Pens: Twelvetrees, Laidlaw
Exeter Chiefs: 15 Lachie Turner, 14 Olly Woodburn, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Sam Hill, 11 Ian Whitten, 10 Gareth Steenson (captain), 9 Will Chudley, 8 Thomas Waldrom, 7 Julian Salvi, 6 Dave Dennis, 5 Geoff Parling, 4 Mitch Lees, 3 Greg Holmes, 2 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 1 Ben Moon
Replacements: 16 Jack Yeandle, 17 Carl Rimmer, 18 Harry Williams, 19 Damian Welch, 20 Kai Horstmann, 21 Dave Lewis, 22 Ollie Devoto, 23 Max Bodilly
Gloucester: 15 James Hook, 14 Charlie Sharples, 13 Mark Atkinson, 12 Billy Twelvetrees, 11 David Halaifonua, 10 Billy Burns, 9 Greig Laidlaw (captain), 8 Ben Morgan, 7 Jacob Rowan, 6 Ross Moriarty, 5 Mariano Galarza, 4 Tom Savage, 3 Paul Doran-Jones, 2 Richard Hibbard, 1 Paddy McAllister
Replacements: 16 Motu Matu'u, 17 Yann Thomas, 18 Nicky Thomas, 19 Joe Latta, 20 Matt Kvesic, 21 Willi Heinz, 22 Mark Atkinson, 23 Lewis Ludlow
Referee: Gregory M Garner
Assistant referees: Matthew O'Grady, Simon McConnell
TMO: Geoffrey Warren
Leicester Tigers 34-13 Worcester Warriors
Tom Brady’s first try for Leicester Tigers and a brilliant individual score from Telusa Veainu paved the way for a dominant Premiership Rugby bonus-point win against Worcester Warriors at Welford Road.
Second-half scores from Logovi’I Mulipola and Graham Kitchener added to Brady and Veainu’s first half efforts to seal a 34-13 win, while a late Jaba Bregvadze try for Worcester was the only blot on what otherwise was an outstanding Tigers defensive display.
The Warriors began with purpose – wing Perry Humphreys with some excellent work over the ball to earn an early turnover, which saw Jamie Shillcock kick for the corner in the opening moments.
That intent, however, was not rewarded with any points as Worcester were penalised for holding on just a metre or so from the Leicester try line.
A high tackle on Dom Barrow from Donncha O’Callaghan allowed Owen Williams the chance to open the scoring with a penalty from just left of centre on eight minutes.
His opposite number Ryan Lamb though couldn’t even things up minutes later from a central position – his penalty lacking the distance and direction.
Williams kicked over another penalty after Val Rapava Ruskin was penalised at the scrum for 6-0 before Brady put the Tigers further ahead with Leicester’s first try of the afternoon.
Some excellent forward momentum from Ellis Genge allowed Williams to provide a perfect pass for Brady to step inside his man and run in under the posts on his home debut – Williams with the conversion.
A tight Leicester defence continued to frustrate their opponents on the half-hour when a powerful run from Dean Hammond was stopped a metre short of the line, Adam Thompstone then getting in over the ball to earn the penalty.
The Tigers then had their second score courtesy of a brilliant individual effort from Veainu, the New Zealander running in from halfway having bumped off tackles from Phil Dowson and Jonny Arr.
There was still time in the half for Humphreys to mount a dangerous break for the corner but he was well tackled by Thompstone – a crucial member of an excellent Leicester defence in the first half.
Lamb finally got Worcester on the board with a penalty four minutes into the second half and he capitalised again five minutes later as the Tigers penalty count continued to increase.
Searching for their third score Williams kicked Leicester to the corner after earning a kickable penalty as the game entered its final quarter but some illegal obstruction from Marcos Ayerza allowed Worcester the chance to clear.
The Tigers were back in the Worcester 22 shortly afterwards though and although Mulipola muscled his way over they try line, the replays showed the ball was held up.
An injury to replacement Naama Leleimalefaga resulted in uncontested scrums between the two teams and from the resulting 5m scrum, Mulipola, this time, touched down after a few phases of play.
Worcester valiantly fought their way back with a first-ever Premiership try from Bregvadze, Lamb converting to cut Leicester’s lead to 14 points with 11 minutes remaining.
But Kitchener’s bonus-point score, coming after a series of phases under the posts, ensured the Tigers came away with a maximum points haul.
Tries: Brady, Veainu, Mulipola, Kitchener
Cons: Williams 4
Pens: Williams 2
Pens: Lamb 2
Leicester Tigers: 15 Telusa Veainu, 14 Adam Thompstone, 13 Peter Betham, 12 Mathew Tait, 11 Tom Brady, 10 Owen Williams, 9 Jono Kitto, 8 Lachlan McCaffrey, 7 Brendon O’Connor, 6 Mike Williams, 5 Graham Kitchener, 4 Dom Barrow, 3 Greg Bateman, 2 Tom Youngs (captain), 1 Ellis Genge
Replacements: 16 Harry Thacker, 17 Marcos Ayerza, 18 Logovi’i Mulipola, 19 Mike Fitzgerald, 20 Will Evans, 21 Sam Harrison, 22 Jack Roberts, 23 Matt Smith
Worcester Warriors: 15 Jamie Shillcock, 14 Dean Hammond , 13 Wynand Olivier, 12 Jackson Willison, 11 Perry Humphreys, 10 Ryan Lamb, 9 Jonny Arr, 8 Phil Dowson (captain), 7 Carl Kirwan, 6 Alafoti Faosiliva, 5 Darren Barry, 4 Donncha O’Callaghan, 3 Nick Schonert, 2 Jaba Bregvadze, 1 Val Rapava Ruskin
Replacements: 16 Matti Williams, 17 Na’ama Leleimalefaga, 18 James Johnston, 19 Christian Scotland-Williamson, 20 Matt Cox, 21 Luke Baldwin, 22 Tom Heathcote, 23 Ben Te’o
Referee: Tim Wigglesworth
Assistant referees: Jack Makepeace, Roger Baileff
TMO: Keith Lewis
Newcastle Falcons 19-14 Bristol Rugby
Newcastle Falcons withheld an immense second-half comeback from Bristol Rugby to grasp their third victory of the Premiership Rugby campaign following early domination.
Juan Pablo Socino’s early try got the Falcons off to a flyer, as they dictated first-half proceedings with Will Welch and Joel Hodgson also crossing the Kingston Park whitewash before the interval.
Bristol – who had defeated Newcastle in nine of the last 13 meetings between the sides – struggled to capitalise on their opportunities, missing two penalties in the first period, but woke up from their slumber with two tries in quick succession after the break from Jon Fisher and Mitch Eadie to narrow the gap.
A spree of second-half penalties could have put the tie to bed for the Falcons, but they withheld sustained Bristol pressure to claim a victory that could have gone either way in the latter stages.
Socino broke the deadlock for the Falcons when he latched onto a handling error in the Bristol backline before putting the ball down in the corner to give Newcastle the early advantage.
The visitors had an opportunity to get themselves immediately on the board when Will Hurrell forced the turnover, only for Jordan William’s penalty effort to ricochet off the woodwork.
It proved to be a missed chance they immediately came to regret as Falcons skipper Welch barged over the line from close range after swift play from the hosts, with Mike Delany coolly converting to make it 12-0.
Adrian Jarvis had an opportunity to reduce the deficit just before the half-hour mark when Bristol won a penalty at the scrum, but the flyhalf steered his effort wide of the sticks, much to the dismay of the travelling supporters.
But the Falcons weren’t willing to sit back and relax ahead of half-time following their early dominance, boosting their advantage with less than ten minutes to play until the interval.
A close-range scrum led to the ball finding opening try-scorer Socino, who fed through to Hodgson to go through two defenders and cross over the whitewash before Delany doubled his tally with the conversion to give the Falcons a 19-0 advantage at the break.
Andy Robinson’s half-time talk seemed to have done the trick in reviving his deflated Bristol side, the visitors enjoying the lion’s share of possession and showing the early initiative.
They finally got their first points on the board through replacement Jon Fisher, who crashed down from close range just minutes after stepping onto the turf, with Jarvis making no mistake from the tee this time to bury the conversion.
And Bristol’s second-half revival appeared to unsettle the Falcons, as Delany missed a 57th minute penalty which would have provided the hosts with more breathing space heading into the final quarter of the game.
It was an opportunity the visitors capitalised on as they notched their second try of the game on 63 minutes, Eadie spotting the gap in the Falcons defence to put the ball down after fine work from Fisher in the lead-up.
Jarvis duly converted and the Bristol comeback was well and truly alive, the gap at just five points with just over 15 minutes remaining.
Another penalty drifted wide of the upright for the hosts as the clock ticked over the 70 minute mark, this time with Hodgson at the tee.
Frustrations started to bubble away as the half went off, tempers flaring with just minutes remaining as Alex Rogers and Gaston Cortes were both sent to the sin-bin.
And it was from the sidelines that they watched the remainder of this nailbiting clash as Dean Richards’ men held on for their first win on home soil since the opening day of the season.
Tries: Socino, Welch, Hodgson
Cons: Delany 2
Tries: Fisher, Eadie
Cons: Jarvis 2
Newcastle Falcons: 15 Simon Hammersley, 14 Alex Tait, 13 Dominic Waldouck, 12 Juan Pablo Socino, 11 Sinoti Sinoti, 10 Mike Delany, 9 Michael Young, 8 Ally Hogg, 7 Will Welch (captain), 6 Mark Wilson, 5 Evan Olmstead, 4 Calum Green, 3 David Wilson, 2 Scott Lawson, 1 Rob Vickers
Replacements: 16 Ben Sowrey, 17 Alex Rogers, 18 Jon Welsh, 19 Will Witty, 20 Daniel Temm, 21 Sonatane Takulua, 22 Joel Hodgson, 23 Belisario Agulla
Bristol: 15 Jordan Williams, 14 Ryan Edwards, 13 Jack Tovey, 12 Will Hurrell, 11 David Lemi, 10 Tusi Pisi, 9 Will Cliff, 8 Jordan Crane, 7 Jack Lam (captain), 6 Mitch Eadie, 5 Mark Sorenson, 4 Ben Glynn, 3 Anthony Perenise, 2 Ross McMillan, 1 Kyle Traynor
Replacements: 16 Max Crumpton, 17 Ryan Bevington, 18 Gaston Cortes, 19 James Phillips, 20 Jon Fisher, 21 Rhodri Williams, 22 Adrian Jarvis, 23 Jack Wallace
Referee: Wayne Barnes
Assistant referees: Peter Allan, Steve Lee
TMO: Sean Davey
Harlequins 20-9 Northampton Saints
Alofa Alofa grabbed his first Premiership Rugby try for Harlequins but it was an assured second-half kicking performance from replacement Tim Swiel that saw his side over the line against Northampton Saints.
Quins led 8-6 at the interval thanks to Alofa’s try and returning flyhalf Nick Evans’ penalty, but the first half was far from a vintage display from the tee from the Kiwi and his opposite number Stephen Myler – with the pair missing five kicks between them.
And in an attritional second half at Twickenham Stoop, Swiel outscored Myler by four penalties to one to take the final score to 20-9 and move the hosts above Northampton in the Premiership Rugby table.
It was an all-action start to the game from the hosts, despite losing loosehead prop Joe Marler just before kick-off with a back spasm and his replacement Mark Lambert six minutes in, but Evans could not punish Northampton for poor discipline in the opening ten minutes.
On his first appearance since the London Double Header, the No.10 missed a penalty from right in front of the posts with two minutes gone when Mikey Haywood was pinged at the breakdown.
He bounced back with a kick from a much longer distance just four minutes later, but then was wayward again when Northampton were penalised for a block as Teimana Harrison surged forwards.
But Evans was at his very best to create the space for the first try of the afternoon, swerving a tackle in his own half before the Quins back-line spread the ball wide for Alofa to score his first try for this club on his Twickenham Stoop debut.
Evans missed again from the tee with the conversion, and while Karl Dickson then thought he had scored when he somehow touched down Tim Visser’s awkwardly bouncing chip, the TMO ruled out the try for a block in the build-up.
And Myler made the hosts pay for their lack of ruthlessness with two penalties to bring the visitors back into the game – the first of which took him past Jonny Wilkinson’s Premiership Rugby point tally and into fifth in the all-time leaderboard.
However, he missed the chance to put his side ahead with two more penalties before the break, one coming off the post and the other slipping right of the upright with Harlequins’ discipline failing them as the half wore on.
John Kingston was forced to bring off Evans with an injury for Tim Swiel at the start of the second period, but the South African started off in style to release Visser down the left, and the Scotland international was only stopped from scoring by a brilliant covering tackle from scrumhalf Nic Groom.
Swiel then knocked over a penalty on 46 minutes to extend Harlequins’ advantage before handling errors from both sides resulted in a scrappy period.
A brilliant carry from Kyle Sinckler sparked Quins into life however and they built the phases for Luke Wallace to go over in the left corner, but for the second time in the match, the TMO penalised the hosts for a block in the build-up.
Kingston’s men began to pull away a little with another three points on the hour mark, Northampton feeling the pressure and conceding a penalty for slowing play down in front of the sticks.
Myler closed the gap to 14-9 to set up a tense final 15 minutes with his third penalty of the afternoon, but Courtney Lawes let the hosts off the hook with yet another penalty and Swiel did the honours.
Adam Jones had rolled back the years and played an unexpected 75 minutes of rugby out of position at loosehead, but he still had enough in the tank to win a 77th-minute scrum penalty and bring one of the loudest cheers of the afternoon – with Swiel again flawless from the tee to round off the scoring.
Pens: Evans, Swiel 4
Pens: Myler 3
Harlequins: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Marland Yarde, 13 Alofa Alofa, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 Tim Visser, 10 Nick Evans, 9 Karl Dickson, 8 James Chisholm, 7 Luke Wallace, 6 Chris Robshaw, 5 James Horwill (captain), 4 George Merrick, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 2 Rob Buchanan, 1 Mark Lambert
Replacements: 16 Joe Gray, 17 Adam Jones, 18 Will Collier, 19 Sam Twomey, 20 Mat Luamanu, 21 Charlie Mulchrone, 22 Tim Swiel, 23 Joe Marchant
Northampton: 15 Ahsee Tuala, 14 Ken Pisi, 13 George Pisi, 12 Luther Burrell, 11 George North, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Teimana Harrison, 7 Calum Clark, 6 Tom Wood (captain), 5 Michael Paterson, 4 Courtney Lawes, 3 Kieran Brookes, 2 Mikey Haywood, 1 Alex Waller
Replacements: 16 Charlie Clare, 17 Ethan Waller, 18 Paul Hill, 19 Sam Dickinson, 20 Louis Picamoles, 21 Lee Dickson, 22 Sam Olver, 23 Ben Foden
Referee: Ian Tempest
Assistant referees: Paul Burton, Ross Campbell
TMO: David Sainsbury