Bath stun Sarrries
PREMIERSHIP WRAP: Semesa Rokoduguni’s last-gasp double stunned Saracens to give Bath Rugby a 31-21 win at the Rec on Saturday.
Saracens had looked set to pull off an unlikely comeback when Ben Spencer put them in front for the first time in the game eight minutes from time.
But Rokoduguni shrugged off some weak tackling to race over at the death, before running in another long-range score from an interception, as Bath claimed a second straight Premiership Rugby victory to start their campaign.
Harlequins got their Premiership Rugby season up and running after battling past a spirited Gloucester Rugby at Twickenham Stoop
Don Armand crossed for a double as defending Premiership Rugby champions Exeter Chiefs kickstarted their new season with a bonus-point win over London Irish.
Elsewhere, the East Midlands bragging rights belong to Northampton Saints for the time being after they dominated Leicester Tigers to record a confident home victory.
All the scores and scorers!
Bath 31-21 Saracens
It had been Bath who dominated the first half, Rhys Priestland dropping a goal before Francois Louw’s opener.
They had been causing problems down the left, and it was there that they scored the opening try. Quick hands from Jonathan Joseph opened up space for Matt Banahan. He then drew his man and fed to Louw who finished like a winger, holding off the challenges of Alex Goode and Michael Rhodes.
Priestland added two further penalties before the break to give Bath a 14-0 interval lead, although Alex Lozowski pulled back three points in the opening stages of the second half.
Saracens’ bench then came to the fore though, with Owen Farrell cutting the deficit to eight with a penalty for his first real contribution.
Priestland slotted a second drop goal, but Saracens came back again, as Taulupe Faletau was sent to the sin-bin for pulling down a rolling maul, and Wayne Barnes also awarding the penalty try.
A further Farrell penalty cut the deficit to a point, before Spencer finished off a fine move down the left, crossing after a nice pass inside by Chris Wyles. Farrell’s conversion was off-target but Saracens led by four.
That looked like it would be enough for victory but Rokoduguni had other ideas, taking his tally for the season to three.
Tries: Louw, Rokoduguni 2
Cons: Burns 2
Pens: Priestland 2
Drop goals: Priestland 2
Tries: Penalty try, Spencer
Pens: Lozowski, Farrell 2
Yellow card: Taulupe Faletau (Bath, 57)
Bath: 15 Anthony Watson, 14 Semesa Rokoduguni, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Max Clark, 11 Matt Banahan, 10 Rhys Priestland, 9 Chris Cook, 8 Taulupe Faletau, 7 Francois Louw, 6 Matt Garvey (c), 5 Elliott Stooke, 4 Luke Charteris, 3 Anthony Perenise, 2 Tom Dunn, 1 Beno Obano
Replacements: 16 Jack Walker, 17 Nick Auterac, 18 Scott Andrews, 19 James Phillips, 20 Paul Grant, 21 Kahn Fotuali’i, 22 Freddie Burns, 23 Ben Tapuai
Saracens: 15 Alex Goode, 14 Nathan Earle, 13 Duncan Taylor, 12 Brad Barritt (c), 11 Chris Wyles, 10 Alex Lozowski, 9 Richard Wigglesworth, 8 Jackson Wray, 7 Schalk Burger, 6 Michael Rhodes, 5 Maro Itoje, 4 Dominic Day, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Schalk Brits, 1 Richard Barrington
Replacements: 16 Christopher Tolofua, 17 Mako Vunipola, 18 Juan Figallo, 19 Nick Isiekwe, 20 Ben Earl, 21 Ben Spencer, 22 Owen Farrell, 23 Liam Williams
Referee: Wayne Barnes
Assistant referees: Adam Leal, Wayne Falla
TMO: Keith Lewis
Harlequins 28-17 Gloucester
Demetri Catrakilis and Billy Burns traded penalties in the opening exchanges at the Stoop, before the hosts’ flyhalf was taken off injured after 15 minutes.
It was honours even until the half-hour mark, before Dave Ward broke Gloucester’s resolve after dotting down following smart build-up play by Harlequins.
Marcus Smith, on for Catrakilis, made amends for an earlier penalty miss by slotting home the conversion.
And John Kingston’s side stretched their advantage further on the stroke of half-time, as Walker crossed the whitewash after a breakaway following pressure from the Cherry & Whites. Smith again added the extras.
Gloucester had most of the territory in the early stages of the second half, and their pressure was rewarded when Freddie Clarke dashed through to score.
Burns made no mistake with the extras, moving Gloucester to within seven points as they looked to mount a comeback. However, Smith slotted three more to give Harlequins breathing space.
Smith added another penalty for the hosts with 15 left on the clock, and the contest was put beyond doubt shortly afterwards when England wing Marland Yarde crossed the whitewash.
Jacob Rowan added a second try for the visitors in the dying moments, with Billy Twelvetrees adding two more from the tee.
Tries: Ward, Walker, Yarde
Cons: Smith 2
Pens: Catrakilis, Smith 2
Tries: Clarke, Rowan
Cons: Burns, Twelvetrees
Harlequins: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Marland Yarde, 13 Joe Marchant, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 Charlie Walker, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Danny Care, 8 Jack Clifford, 7 Dave Ward, 6 Chris Robshaw, 5 James Horwill (captain), 4 George Merrick, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 2 Joe Gray, 1 Joe Marler
Replacements: 16 Elia Elia, 17 Mark Lambert, 18 Will Collier, 19 Ben Glynn, 20 Mat Luamanu, 21 Dave Lewis, 22 Marcus Smith, 23 Winston Stanley
Gloucester: 15 Jason Woodward, 14 Ollie Thorley, 13 Matt Scott, 12 Andy Symons, 11 Henry Purdy, 10 Billy Burns, 9 Willi Heinz (captain), 8 Freddie Clarke, 7 Lewis Ludlow, 6 Ruan Ackermann, 5 Jeremy Thrush, 4 Tom Savage, 3 Fraser Balmain, 2 Richard Hibbard, 1 Josh Hohneck
Replacements: 16 Motu Matu'u, 17 Val Rapava Ruskin, 18 John Afoa, 19 Ed Slater, 20 Jacob Rowan, 21 Ben Vellacott, 22 Billy Twelvetrees, 23 Charlie Sharples
Referee: Luke Pearce
Assistant referees: Anthony Woodthorpe, Simon McConnell
TMO: David Grashoff
Exeter Chiefs 37-7 London Irish
At a wet and windy Sandy Park, Armand crossed in either half while Henry Slade grabbed the first and Olly Woodburn dotted down late on.
There was also a penalty try and two penalties from the boot of Gareth Steenson for the hosts while Alex Lewington crossed for the Exiles in the second period as they were brought back to earth after their opening day win over Harlequins at Twickenham.
The Chiefs, still smarting from their defeat to Gloucester Rugby at Kingsholm, came roaring out of the blocks on home soil and Steenson slotted an early penalty to settle the nerves.
And not long after they had the first try of the game, Slade releasing Sam Simmonds with a nice inside ball before collecting the return on his shoulder to run in untouched for a fine score.
Steenson missed the extras but the Chiefs’ second arrived before the half hour mark and no conversion was needed this time, the Chiefs driving maul too strong for the Exiles and earning a penalty try.
That made it 15-0 and just after the half-hour it got even worse, Armand showing great strength and determination to dot down in the left corner after nice hands from Woodburn and Ben Moon worked him clear.
Again Steenson was off target with the conversion but the Chiefs were home and hosed at 20-0 and chasing a bonus point in the second period.
Steenson first slotted a second a penalty to make it a 23-point lead but as the heavens continued to open, neither side could find the next score until an action-packed final ten minutes.
Alex Lewington went over for the Exiles down the short side after an impressive rolling maul but then when Irish continued to chase the game a loose pass was gobbled up by Woodburn who went 60m to dot down.
That sealed the bonus point and the victory for the Chiefs who still found time to score a fifth with the last play of the game, Armand muscling over from short range under the posts to put the seal on a first victory of the season.
Tries: Slade, Penalty, Armand 2, Woodburn
Cons: Steenson 3
Pens: Steenson 2
For London Irish:
Exeter: 15 Phil Dollman, 14 Jack Nowell, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Ian Whitten, 11 Olly Woodburn, 10 Gareth Steenson, 9 Nic White, 8 Sam Simmonds, 7 Don Armand, 6 Dave Dennis, 5 Jonny Hill, 4 Mitch Lees, 3 Tomas Francis, 2 Jack Yeandle (captain), 1 Ben Moon
Replacements: 16 Elvis Taione, 17 Carl Rimmer, 18 Harry Williams, 19 Sam Skinner, 20 Matt Kvesic, 21 Stuart Townsend, 22 Max Bodilly, 23 Lachie Turner
London Irish: 15 Tommy Bell, 14 Alex Lewington, 13 Ciaran Hearn, 12 Luke McLean, 11 Topsy Ojo, 10 James Marshall, 9 Scott Steele, 8 Ofisa Treviranus, 7 Blair Cowan, 6 Mike Coman, 5 Sebastian De Chaves, 4 Franco van der Merwe, 3 Petrus Du Plessis, 2 David Paice (captain), 1 Danny Hobbs-Awoyemi
Replacements: 16 Dave Porecki, 17 Gordon Reid, 18 Ben Franks, 19 Josh McNally, 20 Conor Gilsenan, 21 Brendan McKibbin, 22 Greig Tonks, 23 Aseli Tikoirotuma
Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys
Assistant referees: Jack Makepeace, Paul Dix
TMO: Geoffrey Warren
Northampton Saints 24-11 Leicester Tigers
Saints put right the wrongs of their Aviva Premiership Rugby opening day performance against Saracens and outscored their rivals three tries to one at Franklin’s Gardens.
After dominating the opening ten minutes, Saints made their superiority show with a try from Luther Burrell, sparked by an initial drive from George North down the left flank – Harry Mallinder converting.
Tigers had the chance to reduce their deficit before the 25-minute mark, but George Ford could only push his penalty wide from 40m after Saints had been penalised at the scrum.
And the visitors were punished before the half hour mark as Dylan Hartley drove over from a ruck to score – with the help of the TMO – before Mallinder again converted.
With five minutes remaining of the first half Tigers did get on the board as Ford converted a penalty, but Saints continued to pour forwards and returned the favour six minutes into the red.
Leicester’s push for a comeback took a blow ten minutes after the restart as Mike Williams was sin-binned just seconds after coming onto the pitch.
Leicester did close the gap before the hour mark, Ford converting another penalty as Lawes was penalised for coming off his feet at a ruck.
But any hope was snuffed out in the 68th minute as Tom Collins crossed in the corner for Saints after a fine exchange with Nic Groom at the back of a scrum – Mallinder adding the extras.
Tigers fans did have something to cheer, though, with May latching onto his own kick through to touch down with one hand for a fine try in the 80th minute – but Ford missed the conversion to further illustrate their frustrating day.
For Northampton Saints:
Tries: Burrell, Hartley, Collins
Cons: Mallinder 3
Pens: Mallinder 2
For Leicester Tigers:
Pens: Ford 2
Northampton: 15 Ahsee Tuala, 14 George North, 13 Rob Horne, 12 Luther Burrell, 11 Tom Collins, 10 Harry Mallinder, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Teimana Harrison, 7 Jamie Gibson, 6 Courtney Lawes, 5 Christian Day, 4 Michael Paterson, 3 Kieran Brookes, 2 Dylan Hartley (captain), 1 Alex Waller.
Replacements: 16 Mikey Haywood, 17 Campese Ma’afu, 18 Paul Hill, 19 Api Ratuniyarawa, 20 Lewis Ludlam, 21 Cobus Reinach, 22 James Grayson, 23 Ben Foden.
Leicester: 15 Telusa Veainu, 14 Nick Malouf, 13 Matt Smith, 12 Matt Toomua, 11 Jonny May, 10 George Ford, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Sione Kalamafoni, 7 Brendon O’Connor, 6 Luke Hamilton, 5 Graham Kitchener, 4 Dom Barrow, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Tom Youngs (captain), 1 Ellis Genge.
Replacements: 16 Harry Thacker, 17 Greg Bateman, 18 Logovi’i Mulipola, 19 Mike Williams, 20 Dominic Ryan, 21 Sam Harrison, 22 Joe Ford, 23 Mathew Tait.
Referee: JP Doyle
Assistant Referees: Dean Richards, Jonathan Healy.
TMO: David Sainsbury.