Priestland scores late winner for Bath
PREMIERSHIP FRIDAY WRAP: Rhys Priestland nailed a last gasp penalty to seal an incredible game of rugby 32-30 in Bath's favour after a stunning Northampton Saints comeback.
* In other Friday matches Will Addison kicked a 75th-minute penalty to overcome Newcastle Falcons 26-24 despite a Niki Goneva hat-trick at the AJ Bell Stadium as Sale claimed a first Premiership win since beating Bristol at Ashton Gate in October.
* Harlequins rained on Tom Varndell's parade as the Londoners earned a bonus point win in the West Country on the night he became Premiership's all-time leading try scorer.
As a result of Friday's matches Bath moved into third place on the standings and Harlequins into fifth place.
We look at the Friday matches!
Sale Sharks 26-24 Newcastle Falcons
Will Addison kicked a 75th- minute penalty to overcome Newcastle Falcons 26-24 despite a Niki Goneva hat-trick at the AJ Bell Stadium as Sale claimed a first Premiership win since beating Bristol at Ashton Gate in October.
Juan Pablo Socino's poacher's effort took Newcastle ahead within two minutes, Joel Hodgson's conversion giving Dean Richards' side the perfect start.
But Will Addison's boot edged Sharks back into the game, bringing them within a point at 7-6 before Niki Goneva sliced through for Falcons' second inside half an hour.
Denny Solomona then went over for his fifth try in four Premiership appearances after Goneva was sent to the sin bin, with Addison successful from the tee before Byron McGuigan extended Sale's lead at the break to 18-12 following a Solomona break.
Bryn Evans went over early in the second half before Goneva struck twice in the space of five minutes to put Falcons ahead heading into the final ten minutes.
Addison kept his cool to knock over his third penalty of the night and ensure Diamond's side edged to victory in a tremendous back-and-forth encounter.
A Falcons penalty less than a minute in looked like it would go unpunished after Hodgson's shot at goal bounced off the post, but Socino was on hand - racing 40 metres - to pick off the ball as it ricocheted off the cross-bar and under for an opportunists try.
Hodgson made no mistake with the conversion, but Addison knocked over a response from the tee within five minutes as he got Diamond's men off the mark.
Sale earned another shot four minutes later as Falcons were pinged for holding on and Addison pulled Sharks within a point.
But it was Sale's turn to let indiscipline cost them as a line-out infringement handed Falcons a chance to punt the ball deep for an attacking line-out that handed Fijian Goneva a perfect chance to make his impression on the game.
The explosive winger picked the ball up at first receiver, cutting a fine line straight through the Sharks defence and racing clear to score Falcons' second - though Hodgson missed with the kick.
Halani Aulika had a chance to pull Sale back within a point, only to knock on over the line from close range after closer inspection from the TMO.
It was only a momentary reprieve for Falcons as Solomona burned over out wide to score, with Addison converting to put Sale ahead for the first time.
Diamond's carried the momentum they finished the first period with straight into the second, with Evans crossing after 51 minutes to take them 23-12 ahead as Addison's conversion slipped wide.
Hodgson though, was growing into the game, some fine kicking ensuring that Sale had to play from deep, but it was Goneva who broke the game again, picking off a loose ball to race home from 60 metres out.
Flyhalf Hodgson saw the kick go astray as he slipped, but Goneva nabbed yet another interception three minutes later to complete his hat-trick, Sonatane Takulua converting to move Richards' men back in front at 24-23.
Addison, exceptional all night, still had chance to turn the game again, after a huge Sharks scrummage earned the centre a shot at goal which he tucked over to move Diamond's side two points ahead.
For Sale Sharks:
Tries: Solomona, McGuigan, Evans
Pens: Addison 3
For Newcastle Falcons:
Tries: Socino, Goneva 3
Cons: Hodgson, Takulua
Yellow card: Vereniki Goneva (Newcastle Falcons, 29)
Sale Sharks: 15 Mike Haley, 14 Denny Solomona, 13 Will Addison (captain), 12 Mark Jennings, 11 Byron McGuigan, 10 Sam James, 9 Mike Phillips, 8 TJ Ioane, 7 Magnus Lund, 6 Cameron Neild, 5 Jonathan Mills, 4 Bryn Evans, 3 Halani Aulika, 2 Rob Webber, 1 Ross Harrison.
Replacements: 16 Neil Brigss, 17 James Flynn, 18 Kieran Longbottom, 19 George Nott, 20 Ben Curry, 21 Peter Stringer, 22 Johnny Leota, 23 Dan Mugford.
Newcastle Falcons: 15 Alex Tait, 14 Belisario Agulla, 13 Chris Harris, 12 Juan Pablo Socino, 11 Vereniki Goneva, 10 Joel Hodgson, 9 Sonatane Takulua, 8 Opeti Fonua, 7 Will Welch (captain), 6 Mark Wilson, 5 Sean Robinson, 4 Calum Green, 3 Jon Welsh, 2 Scott Lawson, 1 Rob Vickers.
Replacements: 16 Kyle Cooper, 17 Ben Harris, 18 Scott Wilson, 19 Evan Olmstead, 20 Nili Latu, 21 Sam Egerton, 22 Mike Delany, 23 Dominic Waldouck.
Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys
Assistant referees: Tim Wigglesworth, Peter Allan
TMO: Trevor Fisher
Bristol 8-42 Harlequins
Harlequins rained on Tom Varndell's parade as the Londoners earned a bonus point win in the West Country on the night he became Premiership's all-time leading try scorer.
Joe Marchant got Harlequins off to a flyer before Varndell touched down for his 91st try in English rugby's top tier.
That was as good as it got for Bristol though, with Mark Reddish, Charlie Mulchrone, Matt Hopper and Ross Chisholm all scoring for Harlequins to cap their first away win of the Premiership season.
It didn't take long for the visitors to make their mark at Ashton gate as Marchant dotted down under the posts.
The centre latched onto a clever chip over the home defence after a fine rolling maul had given Harlequins the chance to kick for the corner - Ruaridh Jackson adding the extras in the third minute.
But the home side hit back soon after as a show and go from Billy Searle brought Bristol into the Harlequins 22, and when they won a penalty within range, Jason Woodward reduced the deficit to four points.
But it was soon back up to seven as Jackson knocked over a penalty after Bristol were caught offside in their own 22.
History then followed as Varndell, who came into the game level on 90 Premiership tries with Mark Cueto, got the score he needed to take the record out right after 19 minutes.
And he did it in style too, sprinting in at the corner; but the conversion was missed to leave Bristol still trailing by two.
Life got a little tougher for Bristol moments later as Varndell - their top scorer this season - was forced from the field with a knock picked up in finishing his record-breaking try.
Harlequins continued to push for a second try of the game, but Rob Hawkins did well to wrap up his man and allow Bristol to clear the danger after another five-metre line-out for the visitors.
But they did not leave the Bristol half empty handed and eventually forced a penalty that Jackson converted from a tight angle to extend their lead to five.
Things then got worse for Bristol as Ryan Bevington was sent to the bin for a high tackle on the stroke of half time.
And it went from bad to worse for Bristol on the resumption of play as replacement Reddish bundled over from close range, with Jackson maximising the score.
Neither side could manage to get the upper hand in ensuing passages of play, with turnover following turnover as Bristol tried in vain to get a quick reply on the board.
And they nearly crossed the line near the 50-minute mark, but a Bristol charge down was cleared at the last moment by Mulchrone.
And the scrumhalf soon had a say at the other end of the field, touching down for Harlequins' third try after a break from Dave Ward, with Jackson converting to put his side 27-8 ahead with 25 minutes to play.
Bristol were given a lifeline as Tim Visser was sin-binned for a professional foul near his own goalline.
But 14-man Harlequins were still dominating, grabbing their fourth try as Marchant intercepted a Bristol pass on his own line and streaked down the field for Hopper to go over after the centre was brought down - but Jackson was unable to add the extras on the hour mark.
Bristol continued to attack but could not turn possession into points and Harlequins made them pay.
At first they were denied by the TMO, but Chisholm did get the score when he powered over from close range to score a fifth Harlequins try of the night with just three minutes to play.
The conversion was made by Tim Swiel and the replacement added a penalty with the clock in the red to rub salt into Bristol's wounds.
Tries: Marchant, Reddish, Mulchrone, Hopper, Chisholm
Cons: Jackson 3, Swiel
Pens: Jackson 2, Swiel
Yellow cards: Ryan Bevington (Bristol, 40), Tim Visser (Harlequins, 58)
Bristol: 15 Jason Woodward, 14 Jack Wallace, 13 Will Hurrell, 12 Tusi Pisi, 11 Tom Varndell, 10 Billy Searle, 9 Will Cliff, 8 Mitch Eadie, 7 Olly Robinson (captain), 6 Nick Fenton-Wells, 5 Ben Glynn, 4 Dan Tuohy, 3 Gaston Cortes, 2 Rob Hawkins, 1 Ryan Bevington.
Replacements: 16 Max Crumpton, 17 Jack O'Connell, 18 Jamal Ford-Robinson, 19 Mark Sorenson, 20 Jack Lam, 21 Alby Mathewson, 22 Thretton Palamo, 23 David Lemi.
Harlequins: 15 Ross Chisholm, 14 Marland Yarde, 13 Joe Marchant, 12 Matt Hopper, 11 Tim Visser, 10 Ruaridh Jackson, 9 Charlie Mulchrone, 8 Mat Luamanu, 7 Dave Ward, 6 James Chisholm, 5 James Horwill (captain), 4 George Merrick, 3 Adam Jones, 2 Rob Buchanan, 1 Owen Evans.
Replacements: 16 Joe Gray, 17 Matt Shields, 18 Tyler Gendall, 19 Mark Reddish, 20 George Naoupu, 21 Luc Jones, 22 Tim Swiel, 23 Alofa Alofa.
Referee: Matthew Carley
Assistant referees: Anthony Woodthorpe, Jonathan Healy
TMO: David Sainsbury
Bath 32-30 Northampton Saints
Rhys Priestland nailed a last gasp penalty to seal an incredible game of rugby 32-30 in Bath's favour after a stunning Northampton Saints comeback.
Saints were 22-9 down after tries from Paul Grant, Semesa Rokoduguni and a penalty try but fought back with a trio of scores from Ben Foden, Api Ratuniyarawa and Jamie Gibson.
Despite Chris Cook's fine solo try, the Saints led 30-29 with just four minutes left on the clock.
Bath were not finished though and even when Priestland missed a shot at goal to retake the lead, the home side charged down the resulting clearance and forced another penalty.
This time, with the clock now passed 80 minutes, the Welsh fly-half held his nerve to give Bath the narrowest of victories and left the Saints with just a losing bonus point.
Grant got the first try of the evening for the home side after forcing his way over the line after a series of Bath phases in the Saints 22.
Stephen Myler reduced the deficit with a penalty before a second successful kick put the Saints in front after Bath were penalised at the breakdown.
But a excellently worked set piece move from a line-out restored Bath's lead as Rokoduguni was sent through a hole to dot down under the posts on his 100th appearance for the club.
Bath's momentum continued despite Tom Homer being brilliantly held up by Kevin Pisi in the left corner when a try seemed a certainty.
The home side were not to be denied for long as, from the resulting scrum, Wayne Barnes awarded them a penalty try and Priestland added the conversion.
And after Myler and Priestland exchanged penalties either side of half-time, Foden had the first try of the second half - his 42nd Premiership try.
Myler converted to bring Saints back within six points and the hosts were down to 14 men when Kane Palma-Newport was shown a yellow card.
And the man advantage paid dividends as replacement Api Ratuniyarawa forced his way over for his first Saints score and Stephen Myler held his nerve to earn a one-point lead entering the final ten minutes.
A moment of brilliance from Chris Cook almost immediately had Bath back in front as the young scrum-half, on the left wing, beat one Saints defender before chipping over Ahsee Tuala.
Cook beat the Saints full back to the bounce to kick the ball over the line and pounced on it before it could go dead for a try bonus point with Priestland's conversion putting Bath ahead 29-23.
Gibson restored the Saints lead with just four minutes to go as Myler surpassed 2,500 points for Northampton with another successful conversion.
Trailing by a point, Bath earned a penalty with seconds left on the clock but Priestland was unable to find the target only for the Northampton clearance to be charged down.
Bath pushed to get over the line and earned another shot at the posts with Priestland making no mistake with his second attempt to secure a one-point bonus point victory.
Tries: Grant, Rokoduguni, Penalty try, Cook
Cons: Priestland 3
Pens: Priestland 2
For Northampton Saints:
Tries: Foden, Ratuniyarawa, Gibson
Cons: Myler 3
Pen: Myler 3
Yellow card: Kane Palma-Newport (Bath, 65)
Bath: 15 Tom Homer, 14 Semesa Rokoduguni, 13 Max Clark, 12 Ben Tapuai, 11 Jack Wilson, 10 Rhys Priestland (co-captain), 9 Kahn Fotuali'i, 8 Paul Grant, 7 Francois Louw (co-captain), 6 Tom Ellis, 5 Charlie Ewels, 4 Elliott Stooke, 3 Max Lahiff, 2 Tom Dunn, 1 Nathan Catt
Replacements: 16 Ross Batty, 17 Beno Obano, 18 Kane Palma-Newport, 19 David Denton, 20 Guy Mercer, 21 Chris Cook, 22 Adam Hastings, 23 Harry Davies
Northampton Saints: 15 Ahsee Tuala, 14 Ken Pisi, 13 Nafi Tuitavake, 12 Harry Mallinder, 11 Ben Foden (captain), 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Sam Dickinson, 7 Teimana Harrison, 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 Api Ratuniyarawa, 20 Calum Clark, 21 Lee Dickson, 22 Rory Hutchinson, 23 James Wilson
Referee: Wayne Barnes
Assistant referees: JP Doyle, Jack Makepeace
TMO: Geoff Warren