Sale Sharks outclass Gloucester
PREMIERSHIP WRAP: Byron McGuigan’s hat-trick paved the way for an emphatic Premiership Rugby display as Sale Sharks turned on the style with a 57-10 win over Gloucester Rugby.
The star-studded Sale Sharks scored eight tries to the single try of John Afoa for Johan Ackermann's troops.
*Elsewhere, Saracens secured their third Premiership Rugby in a row on Friday as they recorded a 25-3 win over Worcester Warriors at Sixways.
*Meanwhile, two Vereniki Goneva scores helped Newcastle Falcons surge to the top of the Premiership Rugby table, as London Irish were blown away before half-time at Kingston Park.
We look at all the Friday matches!
Worcester Warriors 3-25 Saracens
Chris Wyles and Alex Goode touched down for Saracens either side of half-time with Alex Lozowski knocking over eight points with the boot.
Saracens’ fullback Goode then found Wyles with a wonderful crossfield late on to add further gloss to the victory.
Jamie Shillcock mustered the Warriors only points of the evening as they failed to reproduce the heroics of their 24-18 win over the European Champions back in February.
Wing Wyles opened the scoring as he raced onto an excellent looping pass from fullback Goode and dotted down in the corner after six minutes.
With British & Irish Lion Owen Farrell on the bench, Lozowski stepped up and knocked over the touchline conversion before adding a penalty to push his side 10-0 up.
On the half hour mark, Shillcock got the home side on the board with a penalty but Lozowski replied almost immediately to restore Saracens’ ten-point advantage.
It was a lead they took into half-time despite Josh Adams’ best efforts who was inches away from scoring. A knock-on within touching distance of the tryline denying the Warriors.
Saracens extended their advantage after 52 minutes as a neat blindside move saw Duncan Taylor make a break before Goode sped away to score.
Lozowski was unable to add the extras but Saracens had a 15-point lead at Sixways.
Second row George Kruis was held up inches short of the line with 68 minutes on the clock following another Taylor break but the Warriors defence stood firm.
But the stubborn Warriors defence couldn’t quite hold on as Goode’s cross-field kick found Wyles who touched down for his second of the evening.
Tries: Wyles 2, Goode
Cons: Lozowski, Farrell
Pens: Lozowski 2
Worcester: 15 Josh Adams, 14 Perry Humphreys, 13 Jackson Willison, 12 Ben Te’o, 11 Bryce Heem, 10 Jamie Shillcock, 9 Jonny Arr, 8 Gerrit-Janse van Velze, 7 Alafoti Faosiliva, 6 David Denton, 5 Will Spencer, 4 Donncha O’Callaghan (captain), 3 Biyi Alo, 2 Jack Singleton, 1 Ryan Bower.
Replacements: 16 Joe Taufete’e, 17 Ethan Waller, 18 Gareth Milasinovich, 19 Pierce Phillips, 20 Christian Scotland-Williamson, 21 Jono Kitto, 22 Sam Olver, 23 Chris Pennell.
Saracens: 15 Alex Goode, 14 Sean Maitland, 13 Duncan Taylor 12 Brad Barritt (c), 11 Chris Wyles, 10 Alex Lozowski, 9 Ben Spencer, 8 Jackson Wray, 7 Calum Clark, 6 Maro Itoje, 5 George Kruis, 4 Dominic Day, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Schalk Brits, 1 Hayden Thompson-Stringer.
Replacements: 16 Jamie George, 17 Mako Vunipola, 18 Juan Figallo, 19 Nick Isiekwe, 20 Ben Earl, 21 Richard Wigglesworth, 22 Owen Farrell, 23 Nick Tompkins.
Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys
Assistant Referees: Jack Makepeace & Jonathan Healy.
TMO: David Grashoff.
Newcastle Falcons 29-17 London Irish
First Santiago Socino made a searing break to dot down before the Fijian crossed twice in an eight-minute blitz that put the Falcons out of sight, and Will Welch’s powerful finish after the interval secured the try-bonus point that sent Dean Richards’ men to the top of the pile.
The hosts were searching for their third straight win and the best start to a Premiership season since 1997, but it was the Exiles who made a fast start.
Irish looked to use the width of the fast 4G surface, and after they kept the ball in hand well, Tommy Bell was given the opportunity to put his side in front with the Falcons penalised at the breakdown 35 metres out but right in front of the posts.
The intensity of London Irish’s defence at the start of the match was impressive, but Newcastle gave their fans the first glimpse of what they could do with a quarter of an hour played.
Santiago Socino and Mark Wilson combined beautifully after the Argentinian’s break, and with the Exiles penalised Sonatane Takulua levelled the scores from the tee.
And all the wind was knocked out of the visitors’ sails as three rapid-fire scores from the Falcons in just eight minutes took the roof off Kingston Park.
First, the Socino brothers combined as Santiago threw in a lineout from which Juan Pablo was fed by Craig Willis and carved through a gap in the Irish defence like a hot knife through butter, running in from the halfway line.
Then Goneva scored twice in quick succession, first finishing off a sublime team move which saw Nili Latu and Takulua exchange passes to release him, before the Fijian sniped over from close range after Santiago Socino once again broke clear.
Takulua’s third conversion of the night made it 24-3 at half-time, despite some serious late pressure from the Exiles which ultimately came to nothing.
DTH van der Merwe came so close to notching the bonus-point try on his home debut, but Willis’ grubber into the corner just evaded him, before Goneva got back brilliantly to deny Alex Lewington a breakaway score in an exhilarating few minutes of rugby.
But Will Welch somehow got the ball down amongst a melee of bodies for the all-important fourth home try on the hour mark, meaning Conor Gilsenan’s 67th-minute try – set up by the hard word of Lewington – and another for Tom Fowlie late on were nothing more than consolations.
Tries: Socino, Goneva 2, Welch
Cons: Takulua 3
For London Irish:
Tries: Gilsenan, Fowlie
Cons: Bell 2
Newcastle: 15 Alex Tait, 14 DTH van der Merwe, 13 Chris Harris, 12 Juan Pablo Socino, 11 Vereniki Goneva, 10 Craig Willis, 9 Sonatane Takulua, 8 Nili Latu, 7 Will Welch (captain), 6 Mark Wilson, 5 Will Witty, 4 Calum Green, 3 Jon Welsh, 2 Santiago Socino, 1 Rob Vickers.
Replacements: 16 Scott Lawson, 17 Sami Mavinga, 18 Trevor Davison, 19 Sean Robinson, 20 Ally Hogg, 21 Sam Stuart, 22 Joel Hodgson, 23 Josh Matavesi.
London Irish: 15 Tommy Bell, 14 Alex Lewington, 13 Aseli Tikoirotuma, 12 Johnny Williams, 11 Napolioni Nalaga, 10 James Marshall, 9 Scott Steele, 8 Ofisa Treviranus, 7 Blair Cowan, 6 Josh McNally, 5 Sebastian De Chaves, 4 Franco van der Merwe, 3 Petrus Du Plessis, 2 David Paice (captain), 1 Ben Franks.
Replacements: 16 Saia Fainga’a, 17 Harry Elrington, 18 Ollie Hoskins, 19 Teofilo Paulo, 20 Conor Gilsenan, 21 Ben Meehan, 22 Greig Tonks, 23 Tom Fowlie.
Referee: Ian Tempest
Assistant Referees: Hamish Smales & Peter Allan.
TMO: Stuart Terheege.
Sale Sharks 57-10 Gloucester Rugby
McGuigan scored twice in the first half while completing his trio after the break, all after Denny Solomona scored the first of his two scores after just 55 seconds.
Francois de Klerk secured a bonus point early in the second period while James O’Connor and Sam James also got on the scoresheet in a night the AJ Bell Stadium fans won’t forget in a hurry.
Billy Burns dissected the posts with a penalty early on, though the Cherry & Whites were unable to add to the scoreboard until John Afoa’s try three minutes from time.
It took Solomona less than a minute to turn on the heat, chipping and chasing to dot down his side’s opening score of the night.
Things were to get better for Sharks soon after when de Klerk’s impressive work saw McGuigan go under the posts within the first quarter.
The same man was to get his second soon after, ensuring a strong first half for the home side when intercepting a Gloucester pass.
And the bonus-point was wrapped up not long after the interval, a bullet pass from O’Connor allowing de Klerk to get in on the act to dart down and crash under the posts.
This was one of the most impressive performances from Sale in Aviva Premiership Rugby, even before Solomona went under the sticks for his second of the evening.
O’Connor himself was the next to score, capping off a memorable debut to get his new side’s sixth of the night to extend the leading margin to 40 points.
This was despite Gloucester boasting more of the possession in the match, continuing to hammer on the Sale door only for the home side to impressively keep them out.
Indeed the next points were to come their way too, James this time the man to benefit from an intercept to score, with AJ MacGinty adding the extras.
And with seven minutes to go, McGuigan’s fully-deserved treble was completed with the 50-point mark already crossed.
There was still time for a late Cherry & Whites consolation, however, as Afoa went under the posts in the closing stages.
Tries: Solomona 2, McGuigan 3, De Klerk, O’Connor, James
Cons: MacGinty 6, Cliff
Sale: 15 Mike Haley, 14 Denny Solomona, 13 Sam James, 12 Mark Jennings,11 Byron McGuigan, 10 AJ MacGinty, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Josh Strauss 7 Ben Curry, 6 Jono Ross (captain), 5 Josh Beaumont, 4 Bryn Evans, 3 Alex Tarus, 2 Rob Webber, 1 Ross Harrison.
Replacements: 16 Marc Jones, 17 James Flynn, 18 Halani Aulika, 19 Andre Ostrikov, 20 Tom Curry, 21 Cameron Neild, 22 Will Cliff, 23 James O'Connor.
Gloucester: 15 Jason Woodward, 14 David Halaifonua, 13 Henry Trinder, 12 Billy Twelvetrees, 11 Henry Purdy, 10 Billy Burns, 9 Willi Heinz (captain), 8 Ruan Ackermann 7 Lewis Ludlow, 6 Freddie Clarke, 5 Jeremy Thrush, 4 Ed Slater, 3 Gareth Denman; 2 Richard Hibbard, 1 Val Rapava Ruskin.
Replacements: 16 Motu Matu'u, 17 Josh Hohneck, 18 John Afoa, 19 Tom Savage, 20 Jacob Rowan, 21 Callum Braley, 22 Owen Williams, 23 Ben Vellacott.
Referee: JP Doyle
Assistant Referees: Andrew Jackson & Wayne Falla.
TMO: Trevor Fisher.