Gloucester stun the Champs
PREMIERSHIP ROUND ONE WRAP: Exeter Chiefs were given a taste of what to expect as defending Premiership Rugby champions as they went down to an inspired Gloucester Rugby side 28-21 in a pulsating opener at Kingsholm.
After dominating early, the champions found themselves pegged back by former Lions coach Johan Ackermann’s side who proved to good on the day.
Meanwhile, a clinical display from Newcastle Falcons saw them open up the new season with a comfortable 35-8 victory over Worcester Warriors
Gloucester 28-21 Exeter Chiefs
Ben Morgan’s try handing Gloucester the lead, only for Olly Woodburn and Henry Slade to combine to tie things up.
However with time up on the clock Gloucester powered into the 22 before sending debutant Jason Woodward over in the corner as Kingsholm erupted, Billy Twelvetrees adding the extras for good measure.
It was a pair of forwards who stole the show in the first half, Gloucester second row Jeremy Thrush twice responding to tries from Exeter No.8 Sam Simmonds.
The champions needed just five minutes to open their account, Simmonds on the end of a sweeping move that began with Max Bodilly slicing through on the left.
Gloucester had barely touched the ball in the first quarter but they hit back from close range through Thrush, only for Simmonds to cross again, this time doing it all himself as he showed both pace and power to step his way through.
The home side responded once again on the stroke of half-time, Thrush threading his arm through a ruck to dot down and making 14 apiece at the break.
Gloucester couldn’t take advantage of Gareth Steenson’s sin-binning for a dangerous tackle in the air a minute into the second half, but took the lead through Morgan when he reacted quickest to a loose ball on the Chiefs line.
However with ten minutes to go Exeter were similarly clinical, Woodburn pinching the ball off Ollie Thorley on the 22 and racing over, with Slade adding the touchline conversion to level it.
But Slade was off-target with a chance to win it two minutes from time before Woodward’s late intervention.
Tries: Thrush 2, Morgan, Woodward
Cons: Burns 3, Twelvetrees
Tries: Simmonds 2, Woodburn
Cons: Steenson 2, Slade
Gloucester: 15 Jason Woodward, 14 Ollie Thorley, 13 Andy Symons, 12 Mark Atkinson, 11 Henry Purdy, 10 Billy Burns, 9 Willi Heinz (captain), 8 Ben Morgan, 7 Jacob Rowan, 6 Lewis Ludlow, 5 Jeremy Thrush, 4 Tom Savage, 3 Fraser Balmain, 2 Richard Hibbard, 1 John Afoa
Replacements: 16 Motu Matu'u, 17 Josh Hohneck, 18 Gareth Denman, 19 Ed Slater, 20 Ruan Ackermann, 21 Ben Vellacott, 22 Billy Twelvetrees, 22 Matt Scott
Exeter: 15 Phil Dollman, 14 Olly Woodburn, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Ian Whitten, 11 Max Bodilly, 10 Gareth Steenson, 9 Nic White, 8 Sam Simmonds, 7 Don Armand, 6 Matt Kvesic, 5 Jonny Hill, 4 Ollie Atkins, 3 Harry Williams, 2 Jack Yeandle (captain), 1 Ben Moon
Replacements: 16 Elvis Taione, 17 Carl Rimmer, 18 Tomas Francis, 19 Sam Skinner, 20 Julian Salvi, 21 Jack Maunder, 22 Jack Nowell, 23 Lachie Turner
Referee: Matthew Carley
Assistant Referees: Paul Dix, Jonathan Healy
TMO: Sean Davey
Newcastle Falcons 35-8 Worcester Warriors
A slow-burner of a contest did get off to a bright start, with a slick lineout move allowing Alex Tait to cross the whitewash with just five minutes on the clock, Sonatane Takalua converting.
However, it took another 16 minutes for either side to affect the scoreboard once again, with Takalua punishing Worcester for an infringement at the ruck, dissecting the posts from the tee to make it 10-0.
With 28 minutes gone, the visitors lost British & Irish Lion Ben Te’o, who had earlier come into the Warriors line-up after Wynand Olivier was injured in the warm-up, but they did at least have their first points of the evening to celebrate, Tom Heathcote successfully kicking a penalty.
The score would remain 10-3 right through until the half-time break but seven minutes after the restart, Worcester worked the ball wide from a penalty and Josh Adams forced his way over to score, making it 10-8.
Heathcote was punished for his missed conversion as he watched Takalua dispatch a 25-metre kick to help Newcastle breathe a little easier and Falcons didn’t stop there, laying siege to the Cheetahs line and allowing Bobby Vickers to extend their lead to 20-8, with help from the boot of Takalua.
Late in the day, a driving maul allowed Kyle Cooper to ram home the issue for Newcastle, and then the deadeye Takulua dissected the posts once again to ensure the Falcons enjoyed a 20-point advantage.
And there was still time for Juan Pablo Socino to get in on the act, Craig Willis adding the extras after he powered over the line.
Tries: Tait, Vickers, Cooper, Socino
Cons: Takulua 2, Willis
Pens: Takulua 3
Newcastle: 15 Simon Hammersley, 14 Alex Tait, 13 Chris Harris, 12 Josh Matavesi, 11 Belisario Agulla, 10 Joel Hodgson, 9 Sonatane Takulua, 8 Callum Chick, 7 Will Welch (c), 6 Mark Wilson, 5 Will Witty, 4 Calum Green, 3 Jon Welsh, 2 Kyle Cooper, 1 Rob Vickers
Replacements: 16 Scott Lawson, 17 Sami Mavinga, 18 Trevor Davison, 19 Tevita Cavubati, 20 Nili Latu, 21 Sam Stuart, 22 Craig Willis, 23 Juan Pablo Socino
Worcester: 15 Josh Adams, 14 Dean Hammond, 13 Ben Te'o, 12 Jackson Willison, 11 Bryce Heem, 10 Tom Heathcote, 9 Jonny Arr, 8 GJ van Velze, 7 Sam Lewis, 6 Matt Cox, 5 Will Spencer, 4 Donnacha O'Callaghan (c), 3 Nick Schonert, 2 Jack Singleton, 1 Ryan Bower
Replacements: 16 Joe Taufete'e, 17 Ethan Waller, 18 Biyi Alo, 19 Pierce Phillips, 20 Alafoti Faosiliva, 21 Peter Stringer, 22 Sam Olver, 23 Jamie Shillcock
Referee: Wayne Barnes
Assistant Referees: Adam Leal, Wayne Fella
TMO: Rowan Kitt