Sale Sharks 26 – 24 Newcastle Falcons
Newcastle started extremely fast. Joel Hodgson kicked off and TJ Ioane carried the ball up. Opeti Fonua then brilliantly jackaled the ball and despite the efforts of multiple Sale players, he would not be moved. Referee Craig Maxwell-Keys blew up for a Falcons penalty. Hodgson’s effort at the posts hit the crossbar but Juan Pablo Socino followed up with a chase. The ball rickeched off the bar into his arms and he dotted down. Will Addison stuck two penalties for Sale but Nicki Goneva would push them even further behind. The fijian ran a superb line and not a single Shark could get close to him. Newcastle started to show fatigue and that showed when a strong scrum from Sale opened up alot of space outside. A great miss pass from Sam James opened up acres of space for Denny Solomona to weeve in. Will Addisons conversion meant that Sale went in one point up. Sale came out the blocks flying. Sam James was playing a crucial part in the Sale comenback and when he reached round the back of Will Welsh and somehow managed an ‘out the back’ pass to Solomona. Byron Mcguigan was in support and he picked up off the floor and dived over. Sale were building a commanding lead and the Falcons could not deal with it. More strong carring from the Sale forwards and Bryn Evans was over. Newcastle had to do sometjing special and their comeback was ignited when Goneva intercepted and used his speed to score in the corner. Goneva was on fire and he intercepted again and ran in from 80 metres untouched. Sonatane Takulua’s conversion meant the Falcons took the lead back. Newcastle’s scrum was pushed back and a penalty was awarded. Sam James hit the resulting penalty to take back the lead and win the match. Despite Nicki Goneva’s hatrick, Newcastle could not get the victory.
Bristol Rugby 8 – 42 Harlequins
Harlequins came into the game hoping to get a bonus point with Bristol just wanting a win. Quins started with intensity and just two minutes in, Charlie Mulchrone’s kick ahead was gathered by Joe Marchant who finish a well worked score. Jason Woodward and Ruaridh Jackson exchanged penalties and then history was made. Billy Searle threw an inside ball to Will Hurrell who in turn passed to Nick Fenton-Wells. He then worked the ball to Tom Varndell. Varndell put his head down and handed off Marland Yarde. Somehow he managed to out-muscle Yarde and he dotted down to make him the highest try scorer in Premiership history! What a way to do it as well. Mark Reddish responded for Quins just ater halftime. He powered towards the line and spun over to exptend the lead. Charlie Mulchrone had been superb and when Dave Ward ran a great line, the young scam-half was in support and scored. When Quins were penalised for illegal rucking, it seemed iminent that Bristol would score. But new signing from the Western Force, Alby Mathewson, took a quick tap and passed the ball out. However, Joe Marchant intercepted and ran from the line to the 22. Matt Hopper was in support and he kicked through and dived on the ball for a magnificent score. Just to top off a large win, James Chisholm burrowed over from short range. Tom Varndell made history but it was not Bristol’s day.
Bath Rugby 32 – 30 Northampton Saints
Despite missing many international stars, Bath managed to snatch a win over the Saints. It started brightly aswell when Paul Grant dummied and went by himself from short range. Northampton responded with two Stephen Myler penalty’s but Bath turned that around when Semesa Rockodunguni ran from deep and burst through and on his 100th appearance. Northampton dropped even further behind when Wayne Barnes awarded a penalty try after a collapsed 5 metre scrum. After another Rhys Preistland penalty, Northampton realised they needed to respond. They eventually did when Myler threw a flat pass to Ben Foden who dived over just by the touchline. The Saints were denied another try when Kane Palmer-Newport collapsed a strong maul platform. Despite not having a try, they did have an extra man; Palmer Newport was sent to the bin. The exploited the man advantage and when Jamie Gibson carried down the blindside and Api Ratuniyarawa scopped up, they took back the lead with the big Fijian dotting down. Bath then took back the lead in superb fashion. Replacemnt srum half Chris Cook scored a wonder try. He managed to get out of a tackle and one on one with Ahsee Tuala he chipped over the top, toed ahead and dived on the ball! WOW! It had been a nervy game the whole time and when Jamie Gibson powered over for Northampton, the Rec was stunned. It did not end there though. Stephen Myler converted to edge the Saints infront but they could not hold on. Wayne Barnes awarded Bath a penalty in the last minute and Rhys Preistland slotted it to send the Rec into pandemonium. What a game!
Worcester Warriors 24 – 18 Saracens
Worcester, who are one place above the relegation zone, stunned last years champions Saracens. It started well with Ryan Mills hitting two penalties and things got even worse for Saracens. Francois Hougaard caught a long kick and gary owen’d the ball up. After he had kicked it, Mike Ellery came flying into him. Referee Tom Foley called for the TMO and showed Ellery a yellow card. Mills hit the resulting penalty. Despite being a man down, Sarries sparked a comeback; Richard Wigglesworth dabbed a kick through and Chris Ashton dived onto the loose ball for the score. Mills then struck 4 penalties in a row to stretch the lead out even further. Saracens snatched back a try through Brad Barritt after a strong maul resulted in them crashing over the line. Disappointment flooded through the Saracens camp, as a game they expected to win with a bonus point resulted in a devastating loss.
Leicester Tigers 34 – 9 Gloucester Rugby
After a poor run of games, Leicester have hit a good run of form. They started brightly again against Gloucester and just two minutes gone on the clock, Luke Hamilton was over the whitewash. Firstly Jack Roberts made a powerful break. The ball was then recycled and Hamilton crashed over. Billy Burns notched a penalty but after a high tackle on his brother, Freddie Burns, Leicester took those points back. The pitch was holding up well in the wet weather despite the ruthless scrums. The Tigers seized a 5 metre scrum opportunity with a dominant scrum which gave Ian Tempest no choice but to award a penalty try. Leicester were completely dominant and they crossed the line once more with Jono Kitto throwing a dummy and stepping his way through. However, it was ruled that Matt Kvesic had been obstructed in trying to tackle the scrum half. Freddie Burns did hit a penalty though. The Cherry and Whites did build some momentum with Billy Burns but yet again the Tigers responded. Firstly, Adam Thompstone exploited the space left by Charlie Sharples as he flew out the line and ran in. Leicester were ruthless and they scored again through a powerful move which new signing Maxime Mermoz profited off. Gloucester bound fly half Owen Williams converted just to rub salt in the wounds.
Exeter Chiefs 35 – 35 Wasps
Wasps started with a bang when Kurtley Beale burst through and passed to Christian Wade who paced in like usual! Another familiar sight is Jimmy Gopperth banging over conversions from left, right and centre and that’s what he did. Exeter were clattering forward at scrum time and Sam Simmonds picked the ball up from the base and dotted down from 5 metres out. Despite that score, it got worse for the Chiefs when Mitch Lees was sent to the bin for killing the ball. Wasps took the man advantage and managed to drive Exeter back enough that a penalty try was awarded. The game was so fast paced and Exeter were scoring yet again when Phil Dollman slipped through a tackle and managed to find the on rushing Jack Maunder who ran in. Alex Reider was then on the score sheet when Dan Robson cleverly stepped and offloaded to the former Rotherham Titan to take the lead back again for Wasps! Exeter’s driving maul has been great all season and they used to great effect heaving their way over line where is was illegally collapsed and not only was a penalty try awarded, Thomas Young was shown yellow. Things got even worse for Wasps with Gareth Steenson feeding a really flat pass to Luke Cowan-Dickie who muscled past a tap tackle and scored. Momentum was swinging the Cheifs way until Jonny Hill flew in smashed Ashley Johnson in the face with his shoulder. Greg Garner had no choice but to show the young second row a red card. Wasps kicked to the corner and Danny Cipriani sparked some electricity into the game and passed to Kyle Eastmond on the run and nobody was catching him from short range. Dave Dennis had been so important for Exeter and as he carried up again, Olly Woodburn evaded the tackle Cipriani but went down. He was not held so he got back up and on his second bite of the cherry he crossed the whitewash. Sandy Park thought they had won the game but Wasps had a trick up their sleeve. Cipriani made a nice run on the outside and passed to Frank ‘the tank’ Halai. Insead of bumbing of Phil Dollman he passed back on the inside to Joe Simpson. The Wasps scrum half changed direction and Stuart Townsend was stopped in his tracks as Simpson raced away. Jimmy Gopperth disected the posts and inevitably, the game in a thrilling draw. What a match! 10 tries in total and 70 points scored!