Wasps sting Gloucester hard
PREMIERSHIP WRAP: Wasps moved up to second position in the standings with an impressive demolition of an in-form Gloucester team in a 10-try thriller on Saturday.
Gloucester, who earned a four-try bonus point, dropped down to third place.
Exeter Chiefs cemented their place at the top of the standings with a 35-12 demolition of Northampton Saints.
They now have a 11-point lead over the second-placed Wasps at the halfway point of the competition.
In other Saturday results Newcastle Falcons edged Harlequins 11-10, while the Sharks smashed Bath 32-9.
We look at all the Saturday matches!
Wasps 49-24 Gloucester
Wasps gave their fans something to cheer with a demolition job on Gloucester in the second half to record a seventh win of the Premiership season.
After missing his first attempt, Danny Cipriani kicked his next eight and orchestrated the Wasps back line with aplomb as they outscored Gloucester by six tries to four.
The loss prevented the Cherry and Whites from winning their sixth Premiership match on the spin for the first time in 14 years – and they were on the back foot from the outset.
After a period of early domination Gloucester looked to have weathered the Wasps storm, but a scrum in front of the posts saw the ball flung to the left flank where a dummy from Willie Le Roux threw Charlie Sharples and created space for the South African to sneak in at the corner – Cipriani missing the conversion.
The visitors were level five minutes later, though, with a break from Billy Twelvetrees setting up a strong position five yards out, a platform Willi Heinz used to dart round on the blind side and over for the score – Twelvetrees converting.
Christian Wade thought he had a sixth of the season before 25 minutes were up, but a superb wrap tackle from Ollie Thorley held the Wasps flyer up inside the in-goal area.
And Wasps were made to pay minutes later as Le Roux missed a tackle on Thorley before the wing popped up a pass for Mark Atkinson to streak over – Twelvetrees missing the conversion before a Cipriani penalty brought Wasps back within four.
The home side then went ahead with five minutes remaining of the 40 as Cipriani and Le Roux combined to put Wade in at the right corner – the fly-half adding the extras.
But the first-half action was not done there as Heinz found Billy Burns from the bottom of a ruck, before the fly-half fed Tom Marshall to finish in the right corner – Twelvetrees again wayward with the boot.
Trailing by two at the break, Wasps retook the lead ten minutes into the second half as they turned the ball over in their own 22 with Kyle Eastmond feeding Le Roux, who broke clear before offloading to Thomas Young and the flanker showed a blistering turn of speed to run it home from 60 yards – Cipriani converting before adding a second penalty to go eight ahead.
A third Cipriani penalty on the hour mark gave Wasps the biggest lead of the match, prompting a triple change from Gloucester.
It made no difference, though, as Guy Thompson got the bonus point try for Wasps in the right corner, crossing after more fine work from Le Roux and Cipriani – the fly-half again converting.
Gloucester did get their try bonus as Freddie Clarke rolled over in the 74th minute – Twelvetrees converting – but Dan Robson cancelled that out two minutes later with another Cipriani-converted effort.
And there was still time for it to get worse for Gloucester, as Wade collected their restart and raced 60 yards to get his second of the game – Cipriani metronomic from the tee.
Tries:Le Roux, Wade 2, Young, Thompson, Robson
Cons: Cipriani 5
Pens: Cipriani 3
Tries:Heinz, Atkinson, Marshall, Clarke
Cons: Twelvetrees 2
Wasps: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Christian Wade, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Kyle Eastmond, 11 Josh Bassett, 10 Danny Cipriani, 9 Joe Simpson, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Thomas Young, 6 Jack Willis, 5 James Gaskell, 4 Joe Launchbury (captain), 3 Marty Moore, 2 Tom Cruse, 1 Simon McIntyre.
Replacements: 16 Ashley Johnson, 17 Ben Harris, 18 Jake Cooper-Woolley, 19 Kearnan Myall, 20 Guy Thompson, 21 Dan Robson, 22 Rob Miller, 23 Gaby Lovobalavu.
Gloucester: 15 Tom Marshall, 14, Charlie Sharples, 13 Billy Twelvetrees, 12 Mark Atkinson, 11 Ollie Thorley, 10 Billy Burns, 9 Willi Heinz (captain), 8 Ruan Ackermann, 7 Lewis Ludlow, 6 Jake Polledri, 5 Ed Slater, 4 Tom Savage, 3 John Afoa, 2 James Hanson, 1 Paddy McAllister.
Replacements: 16 Richard Hibbard, 17 Cameron Orr, 18 Josh Hohneck, 19 Jeremy Thrush, 20 Freddie Clarke, 21 Ben Vellacott, 22 Owen Williams, 23 Henry Trinder.
Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys
Assistant referees: Adam Leal, Matthew O'Grady
TMO: Geoffrey Warren
Northampton Saints 14-35 Exeter Chiefs
Jack Yeandle's last-gasp score handed Exeter Chiefs a bonus-point triumph at Northampton Saints.
Tries from Will Chudley, Sam Simmonds and Thomas Waldrom saw Premiership table-toppers Exeter Chiefs on course to grind out victory, hooker Yeandle snuck the ball over the line in stoppage time to hand his team the perfect pre-Christmas gift.
Gareth Steenson's seventh-minute penalty got the visitors on the scoreboard and, five minutes later, Chudley really got the Chiefs motoring as he burst into life front the breakdown and collected his own chipped kick into the air before crashing over the line.
Exeter almost racked up a quickfire double through Olly Woodburn but he grounded the ball inches short of the try line thanks to Harry Mallinder's intervention.
Mallinder's heroics set the platform for Northampton to haul themselves back into contention, a slick first-phase move seeing Rob Horne feed Ahsee Tuala to crash over, Piers Francis adding the extras.
Steenson bisected the posts once again in the 31st minute to put the Saints four points to the good, a lead they would hold through to half-time.
Three minutes into the second period, Exeter fly-half Steenson completed a hat-trick of penalties and, after a period where both sides slugged it out, the visitors rapped at the door with a succession of driving mauls after Ben Foden had been sent to the sin bin.
The pressure eventually told and on the hour mark, the Chiefs eventually forced their way over, Simmonds dropping down to get the final touch, Steenson adding the extras.
Exeter continued to press the issue home, having an attempted score ruled out by the TMO as they won scrum penalty after scrum penalty.
As the clock ticked into the 73rd minute, Waldrom bundled over for his team's third try of the game, converted by Steenson.
However, the Franklin's Gardens faithful were given something to shout about shortly afterwards when Cobus Reinach zipped over the line from 10 metres out, Francis adding the extras.
Then came Yeandle's late intervention.
For Northampton Saints:
Cons: Francis 2
For Exeter Chiefs:
Tries:Chudley, S Simmonds, Waldrom, Yeandle
Cons: Steenson 2, J Simmonds
Pens: Steenson 3
Yellow cards: Ben Foden (Northampton Saints, 56), Francois van Wyk (Northampton Saints, 70)
Northampton Saints: 15 Harry Mallinder, 14 Ahsee Tuala, 13 Rob Horne, 12 Luther Burrell, 11 Ben Foden, 10 Piers Francis, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Teimana Harrison, 7 Jamie Gibson, 6 Courtney Lawes, 5 Api Ratuniyarawa, 4 Michael Paterson, 3 Jamal Ford-Robinson, 2 Dylan Hartley (captain), 1 Campese Ma'afu.
Replacements: 16 Mikey Haywood, 17 Francois van Wyk, 18 Paul Hill, 19 David Ribbans, 20 Tom Wood, 21 Cobus Reinach, 22 Tom Stephenson, 23 Ken Pisi.
Exeter Chiefs: 15 Henry Slade, 14 Jack Nowell, 13 Ian Whitten, 12 Sam Hill, 11 Olly Woodburn, 10 Gareth Steenson (captain), 9 Will Chudley, 8 Sam Simmonds, 7 Don Armand, 6 Dave Ewers, 5 Jonny Hill, 4 Sam Skinner, 3 Harry Williams, 2 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 1 Ben Moon.
Replacements: 16 Jack Yeandle, 17 Carl Rimmer, 18 Greg Holmes, 19 Mitch Lees, 20 Thomas Waldrom, 21 Stuart Townsend, 22 Joe Simmonds, 23 James Short.
Referee: Thomas Foley
Assistant referees: Anthony Woodthorpe, Simon McConnell
TMO: David Grashoff
Newcastle Falcons 11-10 Harlequins
Vereniki Goneva's first-half try was enough for Newcastle Falcons as they survived a spirited Harlequins comeback to hold out for victory at Kingston Park.
Dean Richards' side opened up an 11-point gap at the break, which was slashed to just one in the second half as the visitors rallied, as they secured their fourth win on the spin in all competitions.
Prior to the evenly-contested encounter, both sides had won five and lost five in the Premiership season so far.
The hosts, led by Mark Wilson on his 200th appearance for the Falcons, came out of the blocks quickly and dominated the opening period.
Falcons worked the scrum well on the left before play was spread via Sinoti Sinoti and Toby Flood to Goneva, who was clinical in getting past the last man to dot down.
Despite Sonatane Takulua narrowly missing the conversion, he slotted two penalties later in the half as the hosts went into the break 11-0 to the good.
Quins came out after half-time with renewed vigour and got themselves on the scoreboard within moments of the restart.
Mike Brown crashed over the whitewash for John Kingston's side, with Marcus Smith adding the extras with the boot as Quins closed the gap.
Harlequins, led by Chris Robshaw on his 250th appearance in the famous colours, hammered away at the Newcastle backline as they looked for a way back into the contest.
They thought they had hauled themselves into the lead on 65 minutes when Mat Luamanu went to ground, but TMO ruled he had been held up.
Smith slotted a three-pointer 15 minutes from time as the visitors closed the gap to just one point, but Newcastle stood firm.
Pens: Takulua 2
Newcastle Falcons: 15 Simon Hammersley, 14 Vereniki Goneva, 13 Chris Harris, 12 Juan Pablo Socino, 11 Sinoti Sinoti, 10 Toby Flood, 9 Sonatane Takulua, 8 Nili Latu, 7 Gary Graham, 6 Mark Wilson (captain), 5 Will Witty, 4 Calum Green, 3 Jon Welsh, 2 Kyle Cooper, 1 Rob Vickers.
Replacements: 16 Ben Sowrey, 17 Sam Lockwood, 18 Scott Wilson, 19 Sean Robinson, 20 Ryan Burrows, 21 Michael Young, 22 Joel Hodgson, 23 Alex Tait.
Harlequins: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Charlie Walker, 13 Alofa Alofa, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 Tim Visser, 10 Marcus Smith, 9 Jono Kitto, 8 Renaldo Bothma, 7 Chris Robshaw, 6 James Chisholm, 5 Ben Glynn, 4 George Merrick, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 2 Dave Ward (captain), 1 Joe Marler.
Replacements: 16 Charlie Piper, 17 Lewis Boyce, 18 Phil Swainston, 19 Charlie Matthews, 20 Mat Luamanu, 21 Dave Lewis, 22 James Lang, 23 Henry Cheeseman.
Referee: Luke Pearce
Assistant referees: Hamish Smales, John Meredith
TMO: Graham Hughes
Sale Sharks 32-9 Bath
Sale Sharks scored four second-half tries to maintain their impressive recent home record and beat Bath 32-9.
Josh Strauss, Byron McGuigan, James O'Connor and Will Cliff all crossed after the break after a cagey opening half that ended 9-6 to Bath.
Rhys Priestland kicked Bath's only points, all in the first half, with AJ MacGinty kicking three conversions and two penalties.
The Welsh international kicked Bath into a 6-0 lead before MacGinty managed to reduce the deficit with the two fly-halves continuing to trade penalties throughout the first period.
But two tries inside ten minutes at the start of the second half ignite this match at the AJ Bell Stadium with Josh Strauss forcing his way over from short range.
Referee Ian Tempest needed the TMO to confirm Strauss' score, which he did, and it was soon to get better for the Sharks.
Almost immediately, full-back O'Connor threw the ball wide where Namibian-born Scotland international McGuigan was in space to dive over.
O'Connor went over next but he had MacGinty's fantastic run down the right to thank for setting up a fine score.
And with 10 minutes to play, MacGinty was at it again with a kick into Bath's in-goal area which bounced fortunately for McGuigan on the chase.
The Scot was unable to collect the kick but Cliff was in the right place at the right time to collect and touch down for Sale's fourth try and the bonus point.
For Sale Sharks:
Tries: Strauss, McGuigan, O'Connor, Cliff
Cons: MacGinty 3
Pens: MacGinty 2
Pens: Priestland 3
Sale Sharks: 15 James O'Connor, 14, Denny Solomona, 13 Sam James, 12 Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 11 Byron McGuigan, 10 AJ MacGinty, 9 Francois de Klerk, 8 Josh Strauss, 7 Ben Curry, 6 Jono Ross (captain), 5 Andrei Ostrikov, 4 Bryn Evans, 3 WillGriff John, 2 Rob Webber, 1 Ross Harrison.
Replacements: 16 Marc Jones, 17 James Flynn, 18 Halani Aulika, 19 George Nott, 20 Cameron Neild, 21 Will Cliff, 22 Mike Haley, 23 Josh Charnley.
Bath: 15 Anthony Watson, 14 Jack Wilson, 13 Matt Banahan, 12 Rhys Priestland, 11 Aled Brew, 10 Freddie Burns, 9 Kahn Fotuali'i, 8 Paul Grant, 7 Francois Louw, 6 Matt Garvey (captain), 5 Elliott Stooke, 4 Charlie Ewels, 3 Henry Thomas, 2 Michael van Vuuren, 1 Lucas Noguera.
Replacements: 16 Nathan Charles, 17 Nick Auterac, 18 Max Lahiff, 19 James Phillips, 20 Zach Mercer, 21 Levi Douglas, 22 Chris Cook, 23 James Wilson.
Referee: Ian Tempest
Assistant referees: Jack Makepeace, Wayne Falla
TMO: Trevor Fisher