Sarries return to winning ways
PREMIERSHIP SATURDAY WRAP: Reigning champions the Saracens return to winning ways instyle after a 29-18 win against an in-form Sale Sharks side.
Saracens have lost to Gloucester Rugby and Worcester Warriors in the last two weeks but three tries at Allianz Park made sure they nipped that losing streak.
Sale Sharks were on a run of five straight wins in all competitions, including a 34-28 success over league leaders Wasps last weekend, but were unable to contain the hosts.
While in the other two fixtures of the day Exeter Chiefs secure a 36-14 bonus-point victory over Newcastle Falcons to move up to second in Premiership Rugby and Mikey Haywood scored two tries as Northampton Saints came from behind to down Worcester Warriors and move into Premiership Rugby’s top six.
We look at all Saturday's action!
SARACENS 29-18 SALE SHARKS
Duncan Taylor and Chris Ashton got the Saracens’ tries in the first half before Magnus Lund pulled one back for the Sharks. Nathan Earle’s try confirmed the victory before Cameron Neild added a late consolation for the Sharks.
Will Addison opened the scoring for Sale with a penalty in the first minute but he limped off soon after and was replaced by AJ Macginty.
Taylor had the first try of the match on his return from injury as the Premiership Rugby champions took the lead for the first time.
Macginty had his first points of the afternoon with 16 minutes played but Alex Lozowski cancelled out that effort barely a minute later to make the score 8-6 to the hosts.
Ashton then extended the home side’s lead as he latched onto a kick from scrumhalf Richard Wigglesworth with the bounce favouring the Saracens wing and allowing him to touch down. Lozowski added the extras for Saracens and two further penalties for the flyhalf gave Saracens a 21-6 lead to take into the break.
Ashton was forced to show his defensive capabilities early in the second half as he put in a try-saving tackle on Josh Beaumont which forced the No.8 into touch.
But the Sale Sharks weren’t to be denied for long however as flank Lund touched down following an excellent kick through from Sam James to bring the visitors back into the game.Macginty added the extras to bring the Sharks back to within eight points with an hour played.
Lozowski’s accuracy with the boot kept the Saracens score ticking along though with his fourth penalty of the match to make it 24-13 with 64 minutes played.
And Ashton was key once again for the Saracens’ third try as he arrived at pace before putting centre Brad Barrett into space and Earle was on hand to score in the corner.Lozowski wasn’t able to add the conversion but with just over ten minutes left to play, the reigning champions led 29-13.
Replacement Neild was able to give Sharks hope with a late try as the visitors pushed for a losing bonus point but Macginty wasn’t able to slot the conversion.
Saracens spent the final moments inside the Sharks 22 pushing for the try bonus point but were unable to unlock the visitors’ defence as the game ended 29-18.
Tries: Taylor, Ashton, Earle
Pens: Lozowski 4
Tries: Lund, Nield
Pens: Addison, MacGinty
Saracens: 15 Duncan Taylor, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Marcelo Bosch, 12 Brad Barritt (captain), 11 Nathan Earle, 10 Alex Lozowski, 9 Richard Wigglesworth, 8 Jackson Wray, 7 Joel Conlon, 6 Kelly Brown, 5 Jim Hamilton, 4 Michael Rhodes, 3 Juan Figallo, 2 Schalk Brits, 1 Titi Lamositele
Replacements: 16 Jared Saunders, 17 Richard Barrington, 18 Petrus du Plessis, 19 Mark Flanagan, 20 Samu Vunisa, 21 Ben Spencer, 22 Max Malins, 23 Matt Gallagher
Sale Sharks: 15 Mike Haley, 14 Denny Solomona, 13 Will Addison (captain), 12 Mark Jennings, 11 Josh Charnley, 10 Sam James, 9 Mike Phillips, 8 Josh Beaumont, 7 Magnus Lund, 6 TJ Ioane, 5 George Nott, 4 Bryn Evans, 3 Halani Aulika, 2 Rob Webber, 1 Ross Harrison
Replacements: 16 Cameron Neild, 17 James Flynn, 18 Kieran Longbottom, 19 Tom Curry, 20 David Seymour, 21 Peter Stringer, 22 AJ MacGinty, 23 Johnny Leota
Referee: Tim Wigglesworth
Assistant Referees: Simon McConnell, Roy Maybank
TMO: David Rose
EXETER CHIEFS 36-14 NEWCASTLE FALCONS
A thrilling opening forty saw each side score two tries, with Vereniki Goneva and Rob Vickers going over for the visitors, while James Short and Harry Williams were the men on the money for Chiefs.
Exeter successfully stifled the Falcons attacking play in the second period, though, and the home side ran out winners thanks to scores from Sam Skinner, a penalty try and Short’s second at the death.
Goneva opened the scoring in the fourth minute, finishing a fine passage of play, as Falcons attacked down the left following a Will Welch interception, before switching play right and getting the Fijian in at the right corner – Sonatane Takulua kicking a fine conversion from the right touchline.
And they could have had a second 14 minutes in, but when Goneva intercepted a pass and broke clear, Alex Tait could only fumble the ball with the try-line at his mercy.
Chiefs then punished their wastefulness, recycling the ball and setting Short free, inside his own 22, to run almost the length of the pitch, sidestep Joel Hodgson and go in under the posts to bring to an end a period of six minutes and 12 seconds of unbroken play – Joe Simmonds knocking over the conversion on his first Premiership Rugby start at ten for Exeter.
But Falcons retook the lead midway through the half, Callum Chick dancing past Chiefs defenders before being stopped just shy of the line, but Vickers was on hand to drive over from less than a metre out – Takalua again adding the extras.
In an entertaining, end-to-end, game it was only fitting that Exeter would get the next score as Chiefs kept play moving with a fine series of offloads, ending in Williams crashing over from close range – Simmonds accurate with the boot in the 35th minute.
And Chiefs got another score to go into the break ahead, Simmonds knocking over a simple penalty with the clock in the red, as Falcons failed to roll away at the breakdown
After free-flowing rugby in the first half, cold hands led to a number of spilt passes in the opening stages of the second period, with the scrum count rapidly rising.
Chiefs had the chance to extend their lead after 12 second-half minutes, but instead chose to kick for the corner when Kyle Cooper was penalised for an illegal tackle.
And the decision proved fruitful, with five minutes of pressure near the Falcons posts telling as the referee gave a penalty try, just as Thomas Waldrom was set to dot down anyway – Simmonds again successful from the tee.
Try as Falcons might, the open nature of the first half was gone and Chiefs kept them pegged in their own half to go into the final ten minutes, ten points to the good.
And Exeter extinguished any hopes of a Falcons comeback when Mike Delaney fumbled a simple pass on his own five metre line, allowing Skinner in to dot down with ease – earning the bonus point – and Simmonds to add the extras.
They weren’t done there, though, Short grabbing a second with the clock in the red, running on to touch down Will Hooley’s grubber kick.
The conversion attempt was missed but Chiefs had already done enough and took advantage of Saracens’ inability to get the bonus point in their win against Sale Sharks.
Tries: Short 2, Williams, Penalty Try, Skinner
Cons: Simmonds 4
Tries: Goneva, Vickers
Cons: Takulua 2
Exeter Chiefs: 15 Phil Dollman, 14 Olly Woodburn, 13 Ian Whitten, 12 Ollie Devoto, 11 James Short, 10 Joe Simmonds, 9 Jack Maunder, 8 Thomas Waldrom, 7 Don Armand, 6 Kai Horstmann, 5 Geoff Parling, 4 Mitch Lees, 3 Harry Williams, 2 Jack Yeandle (captain), 1 Ben Moon
Replacements: 16 Shaun Malton, 17 Carl Rimmer, 18 Moray Low, 19 Sam Skinner, 20 Ollie Atkins, 21 Stuart Townsend, 22 Will Hooley, 23 Sam Hill
Newcastle Falcons: 15 Alex Tait, 14 Vereniki Goneva, 13 Chris Harris, 12 Dominic Waldouck, 11 Sinoti Sinoti, 10 Joel Hodgson, 9 Sonatane Takulua, 8 Nili Latu, 7 Will Welch (captain), 6 Mark Wilson, 5 Evan Olmstead, 4 Calum Green, 3 Scott Wilson, 2 Kyle Cooper, 1 Rob Vickers
Replacements: 16 Ben Sowrey, 17 Ben Harris, 18 David Wilson, 19 Glen Young, 20 Callum Chick, 21 Sam Egerton, 22 Mike Delany, 23 Fred Burdon
Referee: Ian Tempest
Assistant Referees: Jack Makepeace, Anthony Woodthorpe
TMO: Keith Lewis
NORTHAMPTON SAINTS 24-14 WORCESTER WARRIORS
The Warriors, who are 11th in Premiership Rugby, stunned the home fans with a sixth-minute score from fullback Josh Adams, but from then on in it was Saints who shone.
But the Saints bounced back, registering two first-half tries, from England flank Teimana Harrison and hooker Mike Haywood.
Stephen Myler added seven points with the boot to make it 17-7 at the break, and Haywood scored another try before the end to make the points safe.
Flyhalf Ryan Mills, who had added the conversion to Adams’ early effort, missed two penalties that would have given the Warriors a fresh lease of life early in the second half.
And Northampton were happy to finish the game off through Haywood’s score as they recovered from back-to-back Premiership Rugby defeats to move into the top six.
Bryce Heem scored with the final play of the game for Worcester, but they were to walk away with no reward for their efforts.
The Warriors had enjoyed a dream start as after smashing their opponents in the scrum, they strode through the middle of a wide open defence.
Wynand Olivier was the man who made the break and he timed the pass superbly to allow Adams to score in the corner. Mills added a conversion from the touchline to stretch the early lead to seven points, but Northampton were quickly at the opposition door, knocking loudly until it opened.
Harrison, who had been released by England earlier in the week, was the man with the try as he popped up at the back of a lineout and ploughed over the line.
Myler added the conversion to level it up at 7-7 and Northampton continued to boss possession, with their flyhalf landing a penalty to put his team ahead for the first time.
The Saints were threatening to score another try before the break and after good work from Nic Groom and Ken Pisi, Alex Waller looked set to score, but the ball fell to Haywood, who took the glory.
Myler converted to stretch his team’s advantage to 10 points at half-time and Mills missed the chance to strike back early in the second half, fluffing a penalty attempt before spurning another chance from in front of the posts.
Those misses took any life from the game and there was little action to speak of before Haywood went over to make the game safe for the Saints but Worcester had the last word with a try from Heem.
Tries: Harrison, Haywood 2
Cons: Myler 3
Tries: Adams, Heem
Cons: Mills, Lamb
Northampton: 15 Ahsee Tuala, 14 Ken Pisi 13 Nafi Tuitavake, 12 Harry Mallinder, 11 Ben Foden (captain), 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Teimana Harrison, 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 Api Ratuniyarawa, 20 Sam Dickinson, 21 Lee Dickson, 22 James Wilson, 23 Juan Pablo Estelles
Worcester: 15 Josh Adams, 14 Bryce Heem, 13 Wynand Olivier, 12 Jackson Willison, 11 Perry Humphreys, 10 Ryan Mills, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Dewald Potgieter, 7 Sam Lewis, 6 Phil Dowson, 5 Will Spencer, 4 Donncha O’Callaghan (captain), 3 Nick Schonert, 2 Niall Annett, 1 Ryan Bower
Replacements: 16 Jaba Bregvadze, 17 Na’ama Leleimalefaga, 18 Biyi Alo, 19 Tevita Cavuabti, 20 Marco Mama, 21 Luke Baldwin, 22 Ryan Lamb, 23 Chris Pennell
Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys
Assistant Referees: Greg MacDonald, Roger Baileff
TMO: Trevor Fisher