Chiefs see off Falcons
PREMIERSHIP FRIDAY WRAP: Exeter Chiefs scored four tries as they edged an intriguing Premiership battle at Newcastle Falcons 32-19 to secure their third win of the season.
Ollie Devoto raced 60 metres to score the visitors' first try in the opening period, before Scott Lawson crossed for the hosts.
Thomas Waldrom restored the Chiefs the lead with a typical finish following a line-out but the Falcons showed plenty of spirit as Alex Tait got them to within striking distance.
But James Short and Will Chudley killed off any hopes of a comeback as they crossed to score Exeter's third and fourth tries in the second half, condemning Newcastle to their fifth defeat of the campaign.
In Bath, Jack Wilson's first-half try sealed the bragging rights for Bath they won the first Premiership West Country derby for seven years, and go top of the table in the process.
In a game dominated by the boot, Tom Homer's two penalties were outdone by Billy Searle's three for Bristol, but Wilson's try, converted by the Bath fullback, sealed the win for the home side.
Both sides came into the game with something to prove as Bath looked to bounce back from last weekend's Anglo-Welsh Cup defeat to Scarlets, while Bristol wanted to show their cup win against Sale Sharks was not a one-off.
At Sixways, Stephen Myler's six successful penalties and a stubborn defensive effort saw Northampton Saints inflict a narrow 17-18 defeat on Worcester Warriors, their first home loss of the season.
Dean Hammond's early score had helped the Warriors to a 10-3 lead, but frequent penalties allowed the metronomic boot of Myler to chip away at the deficit.
And it eventually saw the Saints into the lead, but there was late drama as Bryce Heem touched down and after nailing the conversion Jamie Shillcock had a 50m penalty to win the game, but his effort drifted wide of the posts.
Newcastle Falcons 19-32 Exeter Chiefs
Exeter may not have enjoyed the start to the season they wanted but Director of Rugby Rob Baxter was able to call upon fullback Phil Dollman and scrumhalf Will Chudley after injury.
But it was England centre Ollie Devoto who made an immediate impact as he intercepted a loose pass in midfield and sprinted 60 metres to score.
The Chiefs tried to use their momentum and add a quick second, but it was the Falcons who got on the score sheet next through a Mike Delany penalty.
Exeter flyhalf Gareth Steenson was happy kicking the ball into touch with regularity as they put the Falcons set piece under pressure, but it was the hosts who scored next.
Strong work from Will Witty and Sam Lockwood pushed the Chiefs back and it was finished off by hooker Scott Lawson from close range, but, undeterred, the Chiefs regained their composure and made their line-out pressure count as Thomas Waldrom's try put them back ahead.
Steenson extended that less than a minute after half-time with a penalty, but Delany responded with his own effort from 40 metres.
Steenson added another minutes later before the Falcons were reduced to 14 men as Calum Green was sent to the sin-bin.
They responded in style as fullback Alex Tait burst through for a try, but Exeter wrestled the initiative back right away as Short finished a well-constructed, flowing team move.
They thought they had secured a bonus point with five minutes left to play as Dollman crossed to score, only for play to be bought back and the try chalked off.
But they scored a fourth try minutes later as scrum-half Chudley crossed late on.
For Newcastle Falcons:
Tries: Lawson, Tait
Pens: Delany 3
For Exeter Chiefs:
Tries: Devoto, Waldrom, Short, Chudley
Cons: Steenson 3
Pens: Steenson 2
Newcastle Falcons: 15 Alex Tait, 14 Marcus Watson, 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 Will Witty, 4 Calum Green, 3 Jon Welsh, 2 Scott Lawson, 1 Sam Lockwood.
Replacements: 16 David Nelson, 17 Rob Vickers, 18 David Wilson, 19 Glen Young, 20 Opeti Fonua, 21 Sam Egerton, 22 Joel Hodgson, 23 Vereniki Goneva.
Exeter Chiefs: 15 Phil Dollman, 14 Olly Woodburn, 13 Ollie Devoto, 12 Ian Whitten, 11 James Short, 10 Gareth Steenson (captain), 9 Will Chudley, 8 Thomas Waldrom, 7 Kai Horstmann, 6 Dave Dennis, 5 Jonny Hill, 4 Mitch Lees, 3 Harry Williams, 2 Jack Yeandle, 1 Ben Moon.
Replacements: 16 Shaun Malton, 17 Carl Rimmer, 18 Greg Holmes, 19 Geoff Parling, 20 Ben White, 21 Jack Maunder, 22 Joe Simmonds, 23 Lachie Turner.
Referee: Tim Wigglesworth
Assistant referees: John Meredith, Gareth Copsey
TMO: Trevor Fisher
Bath 16-9 Bristol
A scoreless opening 15 minutes was characterised by the visitors dominating possession, but unable to produce anything from their advantage despite an abundance of attacking intent.
And the home fans were understandably nervous just before the 20-minute mark as Bristol's Olly Robinson tackled Rhys Priestland – making his first Premiership start of the season – and forcing the Wales international from the field with a leg injury.
But Tom Homer soon had the home side ahead with a 40-metre penalty, only for Billy Searle to hit back with a kick of his own, moments later.
The lead was re-established before the half-hour though, with Jack Wilson crossing the whitewash after Tom Ellis broke through the Bristol defence before offloading to the waiting Kiwi, who ran it in for a simple finish – Homer adding the extras.
Searle kept the visiting fans interested though with another long-range penalty in the 34th minute, to reduce the Bristol deficit to just four points.
It did not last though and, when the referee brought play back for a Bath penalty after play had broken down following a neat Matt Banahan kick through the Bristol defence, Homer extended the lead to seven.
Bristol clawed it back to just four points at the break, though, with Searle continuing his impressive kicking display – just making the distance with the last kick of the half.
And the visitors began the second period just as they did the first with Rhodri Williams making a clean break before Bath eventually wrapped him up and cleared their lines through an Adam Hastings kick.
Bath's second-half tactics were clear as both Banahan and Darren Allinson kicked for the left corner in the first ten minutes, allowing their forwards to exert pressure on the Bristol line-out.
And it paid dividends on 50 minutes as the visitors were penalised and Homer kicked to stretch the lead back to seven points.
Five minutes later Todd Blackadder removed the returning Taulupe Faletau from the action, just moments before Bristol enjoyed their best period of the second half.
Jack Tovey launched a blistering run down the left wing and from the recycled ball play was switched inside, only for the Bath defence to turn it over and push Bristol back into their own half.
Things got tougher for the visitors in the 65th minute as Jason Woodward was sin-binned for illegally holding up Guy Mercer as the Bath man dashed for the line.
And after tempers threatened to flare up following a neat Hastings chip into the Bristol in-goal area, Banahan failed to make the most of a neat passage of play down the Bath right, choosing to pass inside to Mercer when the flank wanted a kick to run onto, with the pass not finding its intended target.
Time was running out but Bristol did not give up, and in the dying minutes they camped on the Bath line before the ball came to Searle, but he was wrapped up five yards from the line.
The Bath defence infringed though and, with just two minutes to play Bristol kicked for the corner.
Six phases of possession followed from the line-out but a stray pass gifted possession to Bath, who simply had to gather the ball and kick into touch to seal the win.
A win that, temporarily at least, sees them top the Premiership table, with Bristol picking up a losing bonus point to move onto three from their eight games.
Pens: Homer 3
Pens: Searle 3
Bath: 15 Tom Homer, 14 Darren Atkins, 13 Max Clark, 12 Matt Banahan, 11 Jack Wilson, 10 Rhys Priestland , 9 Darren Allinson, 8 Taulupe Faletau, 7 Guy Mercer, 6 Tom Ellis, 5 Matt Garvey, 4 Elliott Stooke, 3 Kane Palma-Newport, 2 Ross Batty, 1 Nathan Catt.
Replacements: 16 Tom Dunn, 17 Beno Obano, 18 Max Lahiff, 19 Paul Grant, 20 Zach Mercer, 21 Will Homer, 22 Adam Hastings, 23 Ben Tapuai.
Bristol: 15 Jordan Williams; 14 Ryan Edwards, 13 Jason Woodward, 12 Will Hurrell, 11 Jack Tovey; 10 Billy Searle, 9 Rhodri Williams, 8 Jordan Crane (captain), 7 Olly Robinson, 6 Mitch Eadie, 5 Mark Sorenson, 4 Ian Evans, 3 Jamal Ford-Robinson, 2 Marc Jones, 1 Kyle Traynor.
Replacements: 16 Rob Hawkins, 17 Ryan Bevington, 18 Gaston Cortes, 19 James Phillips, 20 Jon Fisher, 21 Will Cliff, 22 Adrian Jarvis, 23 Jack Wallace.
Referee: Ian Tempest
Assistant referees: Philip Watters, Roger Baileff
TMO: Rowan Kitt
Worcester Warriors 17-18 Northampton Saints
Flyhalf Jamie Shillcock had put the hosts in front from the tee on just three minutes, after Calum Clark was penalised at an early ruck.
Stephen Myler levelled the scores five minutes later, though, after the Warriors brought down a Saints maul which was marching toward the tryline.
Dean Hammond re-established the Warriors lead with his second try of the season, after Wynand Olivier broke through the Saints defensive line and gave the wing an easy run in.
Shillcock added the extras to put Worcester 10-3 to the good with 12 minutes played in the first half.
Lee Dickson's quick penalty nearly brought Saints level almost immediately, but he knocked on as he attempted to offload.
It wasn't until the 33rd minute that Myler would get another shot at goal, where he made the score 10-6 after Warriors were penalised for not rolling away from the tackle.
And Myler's third penalty reduced the deficit to just a single point prior to the half-time whistle.
Five minutes into the second half Myler put the Saints into the lead with his fourth penalty after Ryan Mills was shown a yellow card for hands in the ruck.
And the flyhalf benefited from further Warriors ill-discipline, with his fifth penalty of the night coming with just less than half an hour to go.
Worcester thought they had fought their way back into the match on the half hour mark, but were held up over the line by the resilient Saints defence.
Ben Foden, on his 200th appearance for the Saints, was then needed to make a try-saving tackle as Hammond burst through, but the visiting defence once again held firm.
And after a period of intense pressure Saints eventually cleared, and after earning a penalty from a scrum in the Warriors half Myler added his sixth successful kick to give the visitors an 18-10 lead.
Bryce Heem secured a late losing bonus point with a 78th-minute score, which Shillcock converted, before Clark was sent to the sin bin for an aggressive reaction towards the Warriors after the try.
The resulting penalty gave Shillcock a 50m kick at goal to earn a dramatic late victory, but his effort drifted just wide despite appearing to have the distance.
For Worcester Warriors:
Tries: Hammond, Heem
Cons: Shillcock 2
For Northampton Saints:
Pens: Myler 6
Worcester Warriors: 15 Chris Pennell, 14 Dean Hammond, 13 Wynand Olivier, 12 Ryan Mills, 11 Cooper Vuna, 10 Jamie Shillcock, 9 Jonny Arr, 8 Phil Dowson (captain), 7 Carl Kirwan, 6 Dewald Potgieter, 5 Darren Barry, 4 Donncha O'Callaghan, 3 Nick Schonert, 2 Niall Annett, 1 Val Rapava Ruskin.
Replacements: 16 Jack Singleton, 17 Na'ama Leleimalefaga, 18 Mike Daniels, 19 Andrew Kitchener, 20 Matt Cox, 21 Michael Dowsett, 22 Josh Adams, 23 Bryce Heem.
Northampton Saints: 15 Ben Foden, 14 Jamie Elliott, 13 Luther Burrell, 12 Rory Hutchinson, 11 James Wilson, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Lee Dickson, 8 Sam Dickinson (captain), 7 Calum Clark, 6 Jamie Gibson, 5 Christian Day, 4 Michael Paterson, 3 Kieran Brookes, 2 Mikey Haywood, 1 Alex Waller.
Replacements: 16 Charlie Clare, 17 Ethan Waller, 18 Paul Hill, 19 James Craig, 20 Ben Nutley, 21 Tom Kessell, 22 Sam Olver, 23 Tom Collins.
Referee: Greg Macdonald
Assistant referees: Paul Dix, Peter Allan
TMO: Geoffrey Warren