Johnson stings Wasps to victory
PREMIERSHIP, SUNDAY WRAP: Two tries from Ashley Johnson plus Rob Miller's brace in as many minutes got Wasps back to winning ways against a Sale Sharks side who refused to bow down to defeat.
The visitors broke the deadlock when AJ MacGinty scored three from the tee in the opening stages of the game before Danny Cipriani swung the game in Wasps' favour with the first try of the afternoon.
Thanks to Jimmy Gopperth's expertise from the tee, Dai Young's men were able to hold on to their lead for the bonus point win, despite Bryn Evans scoring two of his own for the Sharks in the second half.
Elsewhere, defending Premiership champions, Saracens strengthened their position at the top of the table but were pushed hard by a resurgent Gloucester side.
The Cherry and Whites, who ended a four-game winless streak with victory over Wasps last Saturday, enjoyed a perfect start with Ben Morgan going over inside 60 seconds. They went on to lead 17-15 at the break, with a Billy Burns try and a James Hook penalty adding to their tally.
But Saracens also dotted down twice in the first half through man of the match Brad Barritt and Mike Ellery, to stay in touch before grinding out the win in the second half, thanks to three Alex Lozowski penalties. The Saracens man finishing the game with 14 points as his side recorded their 12th consecutive home win in all competitions.
Meanwhile, Harlequins ensured their unbeaten home start continued as Tim Swiel's late penalty secured a dramatic finish against Bath. The flyhalf made no mistake despite the unenviable distance from the tee, kicking straight and true with just minutes to go at the Stoop as Bath fell to a second defeat of the season.
Tim Visser scored early on at the Stoop but despite enjoying the better of the play, Quins struggled to make the scoreboard reflect their time in Bath's 22. And it was that which they almost rued come the break, Kane Palma-Newport's score closing the gap to 10-11 at the break.
And while Karl Dickson and Nathan Catt exchanged tries, it was left to South African Swiel to seal the deal with just a couple of minutes remaining.
All Sunday's scores and scorers!
Saracens 24-20 Gloucester
Gloucester started on the front foot and were rewarded in the first minute as Morgan powered over to score after Saracens spilled the ball from kick-off. Hook converted to make it 7-0. But Sarries were level after just 11 minutes though as Barritt charged down Mark Atkinson's kick and collected the loose ball to score under the posts.
Gloucester retook the lead after 14 minutes as another kick was dropped by Alex Goode and Billy Burns pounced to score with Hook converting again to make it 14-7. The lead didn't last long however, as Ellery scored the fourth try of a breathless first half just three minutes later following neat work from Goode and Schalk Brits, with Lozowski unable to kick the extras.
He was on target with a penalty on 22 minutes to edge the hosts in front before Goode's last ditch tackle on Henry Purdy prevented a third Gloucester try.
However, play was brought back for an earlier penalty and Hook scored to make it 17-15 to Gloucester, while the same man's mammoth kick from inside his own half fell short to prevent the visitors from going further ahead on the stroke of half-time.
Gloucester had a great chance to add to their lead after 50 minutes as Burns broke away brilliantly but he got his attempted kick through to Purdy all wrong and the chance was wasted. Gloucester were piling on the pressure and almost scored as Charlie Sharples broke down the right wing but a knock on saved Sarries from falling further behind.
Lozowski put Saracens back into the lead after 57 minutes as he kicked a penalty from just inside the Gloucester half to make it 18-17. And the game tilted back in Saracens' favour as John Afoa was shown a yellow card and sent to the sin bin after 61 minutes for an infringement at the scrum.
Lozowski kicked another penalty three minutes later to stretch the home side's lead after Josh Hohneck was penalised to make it 21-17 to Saracens. Saracens conceded a penalty for not rolling away after 70 minutes and Hook's kick was successful to reduce the deficit to just one point.
But Saracens came again and, after getting to within inches of the Gloucester line, strengthened their position with another Lozowski penalty.
Hook's off-target effort from the tee with two minutes remaining saw any hopes of Gloucester's trying to snatch a first ever victory slip away, although they did at least leave with a losing bonus point.
Tries: Barritt, Ellery
Pens: Lozowski 4
Tries: Morgan, Burns
Cons: Hook 2
Pens: Hook 2
Yellow card: John Afoa (Gloucester, 60)
Saracens: 15 Alex Goode, 14 Mike Ellery, 13 Marcelo Bosch , 12 Brad Barritt (captain), 11 Chris Wyles, 10 Alex Lozowski, 9 Richard Wigglesworth, 8 Jackson Wray, 7 Schalk Burger, 6 Kelly Brown, 5 Jim Hamilton, 4 Michael Rhodes, 3 Petrus Du Plessis, 2 Schalk Brits, 1 Richard Barrington.
Replacements: 16 Jared Saunders, 17 Titi Lamositele, 18 Juan Figallo, 19 Mark Flanagan, 20 Joel Conlon, 21 Ben Spencer, 22 Nick Tompkins, 23 Andrew Fenby.
Gloucester: 15 James Hook, 14 Charlie Sharples, 13 Matt Scott, 12 Mark Atkinson, 11 Henry Purdy, 10 Billy Burns, 9 Willi Heinz (captain), 8 Ben Morgan, 7 Jacob Rowan, 6 Lewis Ludlow, 5 Mariano Galarza, 4 Tom Savage, 3 John Afoa, 2 Richard Hibbard, 1 Paddy McAllister.
Replacements: 16 Motu Matu'u, 17 Josh Hohneck, 18 Paul Doran-Jones, 19 Joe Latta, 20 Matt Kvesic, 21 Callum Braley, 22 Billy Twelvetrees, 23 Ollie Thorley.
Referee: Greg MacDonald
Wasps 34-24 Sale Sharks
It was the visitors who took the initial lead when they won a penalty inside the half, allowing MacGinty to knock over for three points to capitalise on their early domination. But their advantage wasn't to last as Wasps weathered the storm to cross the whitewash two minutes later.
Cipriani with the honours against his old club, following a fine break from Christian Wade and Thomas Young in the centre of the park before Gopperth converted. Gopperth added three more to his tally when the Sharks were penalised for offside inside their own 22, opting for the posts to extend Wasps' advantage to 10-3.
The hosts' continued pressure reaped its rewards when Johnson dotted down on 24 minutes, the try being awarded after facing a TMO, before Gopperth added the extras.
Johnson got his second score of the game five minutes before the interval when he stormed over the line following good play from Gopperth and Kyle Eastmond in the build-up, only for Cipriani to miss from the tee.
The Sharks came out after the break all guns blazing and got their first try of the game just two minutes from the restart, Evans finding space to sprint 25 metres before crossing in the corner, with MacGinty adding two from the tee.
Wasps battled to regain control in the ensuing minutes, with the Sharks twice repelling their attacks before winning a penalty in their own 22, Cipriani clearing to take them to halfway. Just after the hour mark, Wasps reinstated their 19-point gap when Rob Miller beat his man to race over the line for the bonus point, before Gopperth added the conversion.
And Miller got his second just two minutes later when Dan Robson fed him the ball after breaking from a high ball to cross over, though Gopperth missed from the tee on this occasion.
But the visitors soon took the ball to the other end, adding another converted try of their own through Evans once more, who took advantage of a sliced chip from Cipriani to run over unchallenged.
Wasps were forced to run down the last five minutes of the game with 14 men after Wade was helped off the field by physios, making for a nervy ending when Mike Haley capitalised on a moment of weakness from the hosts to score under the posts, Tom Arscott converting to make it 34-24.
Tries: Cipriani, Johnson 2, Miller 2
Cons: Gopperth 3
For Sale Sharks:
Tries: Evans 2, Haley
Cons: MacGinty 2, Arscott
Wasps: 15 Rob Miller, 14 Christian Wade, 13 Kyle Eastmond, 12 Jimmy Gopperth, 11 Frank Halai, 10 Danny Cipriani, 9 Joe Simpson, 8 Alex Rieder, 7 Thomas Young, 6 Ashley Johnson, 5 Kearnan Myall, 4 Matt Symons, 3 Marty Moore, 2 Tommy Taylor, 1 Matt Mullan (captain).
Replacements: 16 Jack Willis, 17 Tom Bristow, 18 Phil Swainston, 19 Will Rowlands, 20 James Gaskell, 21 Dan Robson, 22 Alapati Leiua, 23 Tom Howe.
Sale Sharks: 15 Mike Haley, 14 Will Addison, 13 Sam James, 12 Sam Tuitupou, 11 Josh Charnley, 10 AJ MacGinty, 9 Mike Phillips, 8 Josh Beaumont (captain), 7 Ben Curry, 6 TJ Ioane, 5 Andrei Ostrikov, 4 Bryn Evans, 3 Brian Mujati, 2 Neil Briggs, 1 Ross Harrison.
Replacements: 16 Rob Webber, 17 James Flynn, 18 Halani Aulika, 19 Cameron Neild, 20 Tom Curry, 21 Peter Stringer, 22 Mark Jennings, 23 Tom Arscott.
Referee: Thomas Foley
Harlequins 21-20 Bath
It seemed it would be a more comfortable game when Visser opened the scoring after just three minutes, making the most of a strong scrum as Nick Evans worked the ball nicely. But with the game tight, Bath forced their way back when Semesa Rokoduguni collected to nearly run the length of the pitch, though an infringement allowed Tom Homer to dissect the posts.
That kick was soon traded by Swiel, then adding his tally five minutes later after Bath were caught offside. But Palma-Newport ensured the visitors finished the half with a flourish, the prop marauding his way through, a try converted to narrow the margin.
It was momentum Bath were able to carry through to the second period, taking the lead when Homer kicked again from the tee following an offside. But despite their possession, a quick Quins break saw the game sea-saw once more, Dickson dotting down for a second try.
Catt then put Bath 20-18 ahead when he scored with less than 15 minutes on the clock, the TMO finding no reason not to award the try after a grounded ball, the subsequent conversion slotting in off the post.
And just as it seemed the points were lost, it was Swiel that came to Harlequins' rescue when they won a penalty from distance, the flyhalf converting with a straight kick that sailed over the posts to put them narrowly 21-20 ahead.
Still Bath were not to give up, jangling the nerves in the home camp with a missed kick into touch, though a loose turnover saw the home fans jubilant to see the ball sail into the Twickenham sky.
Tries: Visser, Dickson
Pens: Swiel 3
Tries: Palma-Newport, Catt
Cons: Homer 2
Pens: Homer 2
Harlequins: 15 Aaron Morris, 14 Marland Yarde, 13 Alofa Alofa, 12 Joe Marchant, 11 Tim Visser, 10 Nick Evans (c), 9 Karl Dickson, 8 Jack Clifford, 7 Luke Wallace, 6 James Chisholm, 5 Charlie Matthews, 4 George Merrick, 3 Will Collier, 2 Rob Buchanan, 1 Mark Lambert.
Replacements: 16 Dave Ward, 17 Dan Murphy, 18 Adam Jones, 19 Stan South, 20 George Naoupu, 21 Charlie Mulchrone, 22 Tim Swiel, 23 Charlie Walker.
Bath: 15 Tom Homer, 14 Semesa Rokoduguni, 13 Max Clark, 12 Ben Tapuai, 11 Aled Brew, 10 Dan Bowden, 9 Darren Allinson, 8 Zach Mercer, 7 Guy Mercer, 6 Tom Ellis, 5 Dave Attwood, 4 Matt Garvey (captain), 3 Kane Palma-Newport, 2 Tom Dunn, 1 Nathan Catt.
Replacements: 16 Michael van Vuuren, 17 Beno Obano, 18 Max Lahiff, 19 Paul Grant, 20 Levi Douglas, 21 Will Homer, 22 Adam Hastings, 23 Matt Banahan.
Referee: Dean Richards