Chiefs too good for Sarries
PREMIERSHIP SUNDAY WRAP: Joe Simmonds produced a mercurial display for Exeter Chiefs as they strengthened their lead at the top of the Premiership Rugby standings with a 24-12 victory over Saracens at Sandy Park.
The defending champions are now seven points clear at the top of the table while Sarries drop to third following this result.
The Chiefs have only lost once at home since October 2016 in the league and are now unbeaten in their last four against Mark McCall’s men.
While Leicester Tigers kept their top-four aspirations alive with a crucial 34-5 bonus-point victory over Worcester Warriors at Sixways.
England prop Kyle Sinckler was among the try scorers as Harlequins claimed their first Premiership Rugby victory of 2018 with a hard-fought 20-5 success over Bath Rugby.
And a brace from Tom Cruse helped Wasps move into second place in the Premiership Rugby table as Dai Young’s side defeated London Irish 24-16 at the Ricoh Arena.
All the scores and scorers of Round 17!
Exeter Chiefs 24-12 Saracens
Three first-half penalties from Joe Simmonds – whose elder brother Sam returned from injury in the second half to boost England’s chances for the rest of this Six Nations, opened up an early 9-0 lead for the hosts.
But Ben Earl’s fine solo score on his first league start for Sarries reduced arrears before Phil Dollman responded in kind, the fullback diving over after fine work from Simmonds and Henry Slade in the build-up.
Back came Sarries, Schalk Brits going over at the back of a rolling maul on the stroke of half-time and while Ben Spencer missed the extras, the Chiefs led 14-12.
In the second period, another Simmonds penalty stretched the lead before the home side, so dominant in possession and territory, earned a deserved penalty try to deny Sarries even a losing bonus point.
Tries: Dollman, penalty try
Pens: Simmonds 4
Tries: Earl, Bosch
Exeter: 15 Phil Dollman, 14 Lachie Turner, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Sam Hill, 11 Olly Woodburn, 10 Joe Simmonds, 9 Nic White, 8 Thomas Waldrom, 7 Don Armand, 6 Dave Ewers, 5 Jonny Hill, 4 Sam Skinner, 3 Tomas Francis, 2 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 1 Ben Moon
Replacements: 16 Jack Yeandle, 17 Alec Hepburn, 18 Greg Holmes, 19 Mitch Lees, 20 Sam Simmonds, 21 Stuart Townsend, 22 Gareth Steenson, 23 Ian Whitten
Saracens: 15 Alex Goode, 14 Nathan Earle, 13 Marcelo Bosch, 12 Brad Barritt, 11 Chris Wyles, 10 Alex Lozowski, 9 Ben Spencer, 8 Jackson Wray, 7 Ben Earl, 6 Nick Isiekwe, 5 George Kruis, 4 Dominic Day, 3 Juan Figallo, 2 Schalk Brits, 1 Richard Barrington
Replacements: 16 Scott Spurling, 17 Hayden Thompson-Stringer, 18 Titi Lamositele, 19 Mark Flanagan, 20 Blair Cowan, 21 Tom Whiteley, 22 Max Malins, 23 Rotimi Segun
Referee: Matthew Carley
Assistant referees: Christophe Ridley, Paul Dix
TMO: Keith Lewis
Worcester Warriors 5-34 Leicester Tigers
First-half tries from Jonah Holmes and Greg Bateman formed the backbone of the visitors’ third successive victory in the Premiership Rugby.
Telusa Veaniu’s double helped Matt O’Connor’s men climb into fifth, with Manu Tuilagi also crossing the line late on.
Despite an early riposte from Alafoti Faosiliva, Worcester failed to complete a first double over the Tigers after their first-ever win at Welford Road back in November 2017.
Shortly after Jonny Arr broke through the line-out and threatened to breach their backline, Tigers turned the tables and went 5-0 up.
Veainu broke from his own 22 deep into Warriors territory, Holmes sent over in the left-hand corner for an eighth try of the season on 14 minutes.
The visitors bossed the early exchanges but were caught napping by the Worcester forwards who drove Alafoti Faosiliva over in a rolling maul to draw level.
Some slick work at the breakdown led to a second Tigers try, serial try-scoring prop Bateman crossed by the posts to hand his side a 12-5 interval lead.
After the break, Toomua landed a long-range penalty before the Wallaby chipped over the top for Veainu to dot down.
Leicester’s second successive bonus point victory was sealed by late scores from Tuilagi and again Veainu.
Tries: Holmes, Bateman, Veainu 2, Tuilagi
Cons: Toomua 3
Worcester: 15 Chris Pennell, 14 Bryce Heem, 13 Jackson Willison, 12 Ryan Mills, 11 Josh Adams, 10 Jamie Shillcock, 9 Jonny Arr, 8 GJ van Velze (captain), 7 Alafoti Fa’osiliva, 6 David Denton, 5 Will Spencer, 4 Darren Barry, 3 Nick Schonert, 2 Jack Singleton, 1 Ethan Waller
Replacements: 16 Kurt Haupt, 17 Ryan Bower, 18 Gareth Milasinovich, 19 Donncha O’Callaghan, 20 Matt Cox, 21 Luke Baldwin, 22 Will Butler, 23 Dean Hammond
Leicester: 15 Telusa Veainu, 14 Adam Thompstone, 13 Manu Tuilagi, 12 Mathew Tait, 11 Jonah Holmes, 10 Matt Toomua, 9 Sam Harrison, 8 Sione Kalamafoni, 7 Brendon O’Connor, 6 Mike Williams, 5 Graham Kitchener, 4 Mike Fitzgerald, 3 Logovi’i Mulipola, 2 Tom Youngs (captain), 1 Greg Bateman
Replacements: 16 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 17 Michele Rizzo, 18 Pat Cilliers, 19 Harry Wells, 20 Luke Hamilton, 21 Harry Simmons, 22 Joe Ford, 23 Nick Malouf
Referee: Luke Pearce
Assistant referees: Hamish Smales, Simon McConnell
TMO: Geoff Warren
Harlequins 20-5 Bath
Flyhalf Demetri Catrakilis made just his second start of the season for Harlequins after his recovery from a throat injury, while Bath were able to welcome back Wales No.8 Taulupe Faletau.
The match got off to a scrappy opening, with Bath unable to capitalise on having most of the territory in the early going, although a Harlequins knock-on in their own half led to the breakthrough.
Zach Mercer broke from a scrum before passing to Kahn Fotuali’i, who went clear before giving Matt Banahan a walk-in for his ninth try of the season.
Minutes later, James Wilson’s pass intended for Tom Homer was intercepted by Tim Visser, just outside his own 22, and there was no catching the winger from there, as he gave Catrakilis an easy conversion.
Catrakilis then extended Harlequins’ lead to 10-5 with a penalty, although he was unsuccessful with another attempt, as Bath were twice penalised for offside.
Indiscipline continued to hurt the visitors in the second half, as Max Lahiff received a yellow just a minute after coming off the bench with his side conceding a string of penalties.
Harlequins eventually made the most of their pressure, as Dave Lewis quickly recycled the ball for Sinckler, fresh on himself, to crash over from close range, with Catrakilis converting.
Bath desperately looked for a route back into the game, with a dangerous move involving Wilson, Nathan Catt and Cooper Vuna stopped by a terrific tackle just a few metres out by Luke Wallace.
Mercer and Nathan Charles were also denied by some heroic defending in the closing stages before Marcus Smith’s penalty made sure of a much-needed victory.
Tries: Visser, Sinckler
Cons: Catrakilis 2
Pens: Catrakilis, Smith
Yellow Card: Max Lahiff (Bath, 52)
Harlequins: 15 James Lang, 14 Alofa Alofa, 13 Joe Marchant, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 Tim Visser, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Dave Lewis, 8 Mat Luamanu, 7 Luke Wallace, 6 James Chisholm, 5 James Horwill (captain), 4 Ben Glynn, 3 Will Collier, 2 Joe Gray, 1 Mark Lambert Replacements: 16 Dave Ward, 17 Cameron Holenstein, 18 Kyle Sinckler, 19 Charlie Matthews, 20 Archie White, 21 Calum Waters, 22 Marcus Smith, 23 Francis Saili
Bath: 15 Tom Homer, 14 Matt Banahan, 13 Will Hurrell, 12 Ben Tapuai, 11 Aled Brew, 10 James Wilson, 9 Kahn Fotuali’i, 8 Taulupe Faletau, 7 Josh Bayliss, 6 Zach Mercer, 5 Luke Charteris (captain), 4 Elliott Stooke, 3 Henry Thomas, 2 Ross Batty, 1 Beno Obano
Replacements: 16 Nathan Charles, 17 Nathan Catt, 18 Max Lahiff, 19 Charlie Ewels, 20 James Phillips, 21 Chris Cook, 22 Josh Lewis, 23 Cooper Vuna
Referee: JP Doyle
Assistant referees: Anthony Woodthorpe, Paul Burton
TMO: Stuart Terheege
Wasps 24-16 London Irish
After Irish’s Greig Tonks was wide with a 40-metre penalty attempt, the visitors also lost hooker David Paice to the sin-bin for an obstruction on Guy Thompson.
The home side took full advantage of their temporary numerical superiority to drive Tom Cruse over from a close-range lineout.
Danny Cipriani added the conversion, after which the visitors twice failed to convert field position into points.
Tonks missed with another long-range penalty after the hosts were penalised for dissent before Wasps worked Thomas Young clear but he was unable to connect with Christian Wade on his left shoulder.
Brendan Macken was then unable to recover his own charge-down a metre from the visitors’ line, which left the hosts with a seven-point interval advantage.
They doubled this nine minutes after the restart when Le Roux’s nice line released Wade. The flying winger was held by the visitors’ scramble defence a metre short, but scrumhalf Dan Robson dived over for a try which Cipriani upgraded.
Irish got on the board late in the third quarter when replacement Tommy Bell returned a kick 40 metres into the home 22, where Wasps were penalised on the ground leaving Bell with a simple penalty.
The Exiles’ James Marshall then exploited a turnover to break 50 metres from inside his own half and establish the field position from which the visitors eventually drove replacement hooker Dave Porecki over for a try.
Cipriani and Bell traded penalties which left the hosts nervously defending a six-point advantage with ten minutes remaining.
And this was reduced to a single point five minutes from time when Irish’s driving lineout powered Petrus Du Plessis over.
However, Cruse had the last word, which along with Cipriani’s conversion was enough to clinch the win
Tries: Cruse 2, Robson
Cons: Cipriani 3
For London Irish:
Tries: Porecki, Du Plessis
Pens: Bell 2
Yellow Card: David Paice (London Irish, 4)
Wasps: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Christian Wade, 13 Brendan Macken, 12 Jimmy Gopperth, 11 Josh Bassett, 10 Danny Cipriani, 9 Dan Robson, 8 Guy Thompson, 7 Thomas Young, 6 Ashley Johnson, 5 Will Rowlands, 4 James Gaskell (captain), 3 Jake Cooper-Woolley, 2 Tom Cruse, 1 Simon McIntyre
Replacements: 16 TJ Harris, 17 Ben Harris, 18 Will Stuart, 19 Kearnan Myall, 20 Jack Willis, 21 Joe Simpson, 22 Rob Miller, 23 Owain James
London Irish: 15 James Marshall, 14 Joe Cokanasiga, 13 Tom Fowlie, 12 Johnny Williams, 11 Alex Lewington, 10 Greig Tonks, 9 Piet van Zyl, 8 Ofisa Treviranus, 7 Conor Gilsenan, 6 Arno Botha, 5 Teofilo Paulo, 4 Franco van der Merwe (captain), 3 Ollie Hoskins, 2 David Paice, 1 Ben Franks
Replacements: 16 Dave Porecki, 17 Harry Elrington, 18 Petrus Du Plessis, 19 Sebastian De Chaves, 20 Jake Schatz, 21 Scott Steele, 22 Tommy Bell, 23 Aseli Tikoirotuma
Referee: Tom Foley
Assistant referees: Greg Macdonald, Nigel Carrick
TMO: David Rose