Donald wins battle of the Kiwis
Donald wins battle of the KiwisSHARE
Stephen Donald won the battle of the former All Black flyhalves as he inspired Bath to a hard-fought 21-15 win over Nick Evans' Harlequins in a Premiership match.
In the other Friday fixture Andy Goode's right boot proved the difference in the battle of the misfiring kickers, as Worcester Warriors eked out a 12-3 Premiership win against Saracens at Sixways.
We look at Friday's matches!
Bath 21-18 Harlequins
Stephen Donald won the battle of the former All Black flyhalves as he inspired Bath to a hard-fought 21-15 win over Nick Evans' Harlequins in the Premiership.
Donald, who kicked New Zealand to World Cup victory last year, chalked up all 21 points for Bath, whose resilience ensured Quins suffered only their third defeat of the season.
Evans was equally impressive and also scored all of his team's points but Bath edged out the Londoners thanks to Donald's unerring accuracy.
Defending champions Harlequins began on the front foot and it was Evans who broke the deadlock on five minutes, slotting his first penalty of the night shortly before Donald missed his first attempt.
The scrappy opening to this old-fashioned arm wrestle continued with only Nick Abendanon catching the eye through the mist that engulfed the Rec but Donald tied the scores on 16 minutes.
And on 20 minutes, Bath should have scored the first try of the match when Matt Banahan charged down Quins full-back Tom Williams' kick and gathered but his pass to Semesa Rokoduguni was wayward and the Fijian failed to gather with the try-line beckoning.
Evans made Bath swiftly pay by notching his second penalty of the night on 23 minutes but Donald responded four minutes before the break and made it three, two minutes, later, to give the West Country side a 9-6 lead at the half-time interval.
Donald then pulled his side to 12-6 ahead before a sparking run from Quins scrumhalf Karl Dickson almost resulted in the first try but he was held up just short.
Evans then missed a woeful penalty attempt before trimming the deficit to three once again after Bath were harshly penalised.
Evans then levelled things up when Guy Mercer was pinged for a late tackle on 61 minutes and again the two flyhalves traded a further penalty each.
Matt Banahan then thought he had scored the first try of the match after Tom Biggs was tackled just short of the line and the powerful centre tried to barge his way over from the base of the ruck, but could not ground the ball over the line.
Referee JP Doyle had spotted an earlier infringement however and Donald put Bath back ahead before taking the lead to 21-15 with his seventh penalty from eight attempts on 73 minutes, soon after he had survived a scare when Nick Easter charged down his kick.
Evans and Quins weren't finished there however and he notched his sixth penalty of the night to set up a grandstand finish but Bath held firm in a frantic finale with some typically resolute defence to secure victory.
Pens: Donald 7
Pens: Evans 6
Bath: 15 Nick Abendanon, 14 Kyle Eastmond, 13 Semesa Rokoduguni, 12 Matt Banahan, 11 Tom Biggs, 10 Stephen Donald, 9 Michael Claassens, 8 Simon Taylor, 7 Guy Mercer, 6 Josh Ovens, 5 Dave Attwood, 4 Stuart Hooper (captain), 3 Anthony Perenise, 2 Lee Mears, 1 Charlie Beech.
Replacements: 16 Brett Sheehan, 17 Alan Cotter, 18 Kane Palma-Newport, 19 Dominic Day, 20 Ryan Caldwell, 21 Will Skuse, 22 Mark McMillan, 23 Jack Cuthbert.
Harlequins: 15 Tom Williams, 14 Ugo Monye, 13 Matt Hopper, 12 Jordan Turner-Hall, 11 Sam Smith, 10 Nick Evans, 9 Karl Dickson, 8 Nick Easter (captain), 7 Luke Wallace, 6 Tom Guest, 5 George Robson, 4 Olly Kohn, 3 Will Collier, 2 Joe Gray, 1 Mark Lambert.
Replacements: 16 Rob Buchanan, 17 Darryl Marfo, 18 Kyle Sinckler, 19 Pete Browne, 20 Joe Trayfoot, 21 Jordan Burns, 22 Rory Clegg, 23 Seb Stegmann.
Referee: JP Doyle
Assistant referees: Paul Burton, Andrew Pearce
TMO: David Grashoff
Worcester Warriors 12-3 Saracens
Andy Goode's right boot proved the difference in the battle of the misfiring kickers as Worcester Warriors eked out a 12-3 Premiership win against Saracens at Sixways.
Goode kicked all of his points in the first half but despite failing to cross the whitewash the Warriors were good value for the win against a Sarries side shorn of many of their big names.
The visitors are still unable to call on Chris Ashton, Mouritz Botha, Mako Vunipola, Alex Goode, Brad Barritt and Owen Farrell, who are part of Stuart Lancaster's England squad for the year-end internationals, with Springbok hooker Schalk Brits among those also called up for other Test sides.
And Nils Mordt, who started at flyhalf in the absence of Farrell and the injured Charlie Hodgson, was wayward from the kicking tee throughout the match, finishing one from four before being replaced by Sam Stanley who also missed a penalty that would have at the very least earned Mark McCall's troops a losing bonus point.
Saracens went into the game on the back of a four-match Premiership winning streak while the Warriors had lost three in their last five in the league and after cagey opening stages it was Goode who opened the scoring in the 11th minute, slotting over a penalty after the visitors went offside.
No sooner had Sarries gone behind however than they had a chance to level proceedings, Mordt's re-start was claimed by David Strettle and after the Warriors infringed at the breakdown Mordt's penalty from near halfway fell short.
Sarries came closest to the first try of the night soon after when a fine Mordt chip kick bounced into the arms of Duncan Taylor and the youngster was only denied in the corner by a fine covering tackle from Chris Pennell.
Their period of dominance did see them come away with points however when Mordt slotted over a penalty shortly afterwards to level proceedings.
The Warriors had been dealt a blow by the withdrawal through injury of Joe Carlisle, the experiment with him at inside centre lasting barely ten minutes before Alex Grove replaced him.
In Goode they had probably the game's most inventive force but his 20th minute penalty attempt drifted narrowly wide to keep it at 3-3.
Straight from the drop-out however Warriors carved Sarries apart, Goode collecting his own chip over the top before kicking forward again to leave what looked like an easy try for wing Errie Claassens.
But the South African made a hash of it, knocking on with the try line gaping to get Saracens out of jail.
Their stay of execution was only temporary after Matt Stevens was penalised in the subsequent five-metre scrum to give Goode an easy three points which he gladly accepted on 24 minutes.
As the half hour approached Goode dragged a drop goal attempt wide that would have stretched the lead to six points and before the interval Saracens should have made him pay.
McCall's troops dominated the last ten minutes of the first half but a clearly rusty Mordt's penalty attempt after a late hit on the flyhalf from Neil Best was pulled wide to keep it at 6-3.
And in the final two minutes of the half Goode showed him how it was done, connecting with a drop goal and then a penalty with the last kick of the period to make it 12-3.
The scoreline at the interval flattered the hosts and Saracens went about reducing their deficit straight after the break, Taylor and Richard Wigglesworth both making half breaks to come close as Warriors' last-ditch defending held out.
But with Mordt not having his best night from the kicking tee Saracens were struggling to turn things around, the South African missing his third penalty of the night in the 51st minute.
Meanwhile the Warriors were starting to build some momentum as the second half wore on and as the hour mark approached were camped in the Saracens half before Goode dragged a another drop goal attempt wide.
Richard Hill's men were more than matching Saracens for physicality at the breakdown and after forcing another penalty Goode's thump from his own half drifted narrowly wide to keep the scores at 12-3.
Moments later the Warriors should have put the game to bed when Semisi Taulava broke clear, shrugging off Alistair Hargreaves, and fed inside to Nikki Walker who knocked on when a try seemed certain.
As the game entered the final quarter Warriors had the game by the scruff of the neck, Goode and Paul Hodgson in the half-backs gradually turning the screw.
In a rare foray for Sarries late on Stanley could not do better than the man he replaced, also dragging a penalty wide to sum up a poor performance from the 2011 champions as they lost at Sixways for the second successive year.
Pens: Goode 3
Worcester Warriors: 15 Chris Pennell, 14 Nikki Walker, 13 Josh Matavesi, 12 Joe Carlisle, 11 Errie Claassens, 10 Andy Goode, 9 Paul Hodgson, 8 Semisi Taulava, 7 Matt Kvesic, 6 Neil Best, 5 Chris Jones, 4 James Percival (captain), 3 John Andress, 2 Ed Shervington, 1 Ceri Jones.
Replacements: 16 Aleki Lutui, 17 Rob O'Donnell, 18 James Currie, 19 Dean Schofield, 20 Sam Betty, 21 Jonny Arr, 22 Alex Grove, 23 Andy Short.
Saracens: 15 Ben Ransom, 14 David Strettle, 13 Joel Tomkins, 12 Kameli Ratuvou, 11 Duncan Taylor, 10 Nils Mordt, 9 Richard Wigglesworth, 8 Ernst Joubert, 7 Andy Saull, 6 Jackson Wray, 5 Alistair Hargreaves, 4 Steve Borthwick (captain), 3 Carlos Nieto, 2 Jamie George, 1 Matt Stevens.
Replacements: 16 John Smit, 17 Nick Auterac, 18 Lorenzo Romano 19 Eoin Sheriff, 20 Will Fraser, 21 Neil de Kock, 22 Sam Stanley, 23 James Short.
Referee: Tim Wigglesworth
Assistant referees: Paul Dix, Robin Goodliffe