Gloucester keep play-off hopes alive
PREMIERSHIP SATURDAY WRAP: Gloucester boosted their chances of a top six finish as they ran in four tries to down Harlequins 37-9 at the Kingsholm.
Callum Braley dotted down in the opening ten minutes before Jason Woodward, Jake Polledri and Ruan Ackermann crossed late on to add gloss to the victory.
Northampton Saints ended a run of four straight Premiership defeats with a 27-21 victory over East Midlands rivals Leicester Tigers.
Ben Foden and Jacobus Reinach went over for tries to give Saints an early lead only for Telusa Veainu and Matt Toomua to pull Tigers back into contention.
But Ahsee Tuala went over in the second half and, with two penalties from Stephen Myler, was enough to see Saints over the line.
Meanwhile, Wasps returned to winning ways in the Premiership as they ran in four tries to ease past Worcester Warriors at the Ricoh Arena.
Defeat to Sale last week dented their top-four hopes but they displayed control and a clinical edge throughout Saturday's clash to get back on track.
Two tries from Christian Wade and scores from Joe Launchbury and Josh Bassett gave the home side a deserved victory over relegation-threatened Warriors.
Gloucester 37-9 Harlequins
The Cherry and Whites were looking to avenge their 28-17 defeat earlier in the season at Twickenham Stoop and make the perfect start as a beautiful pass from Mark Atkinson found Billy Twelvetrees who burst through the middle before setting up Callum Braley to cross.
Marcus Smith continued his reliable form from the boot as he kicked three first-half penalties for Quins but Twelvetrees was going to toe-to-toe with the teenager, ensuring the hosts went in 13-9 at the interval.
Gloucester have been superb at the Kingsholm this campaign, losing just once against Newcastle Falcons and Johan Ackermann’s men looked to continue that record early in the second half.
Harlequins were looking for a first win since downing Bath over a month ago but struggled to assert themselves on the game.
And the Cherry and Whites secured the victory with three tries in the final 15 minutes.
Fantastic footwork from Jason Atkinson again as he found Trinder on the wing before Woodward slammed over in the corner.
Moments later Italian international Jake Polledri was over after Gloucester had won possession in their own 22 before Ruan Ackermann sniped over in the 80th minute to pick up a crucial bonus-point try.
The result keeps Gloucester's chances of making the semifnals alive but must win their remaining games to stand any chance of making the top four.
As for Harlequins, the defeat at the Kingsholm is their third straight loss in the Premiership and leaves them in ninth place.
Tries: Braley, Woodward, Polledri, Ackermann
Cons: Twelvetrees 4
Pens: Twelvetrees 3
Pens: Smith 3
Gloucester: 15 Jason Woodward, 14 Charlie Sharples, 13 Billy Twelvetrees, 12 Mark Atkinson, 11 Henry Trinder, 10 Billy Burns, 9 Callum Braley, 8 Ben Morgan, 7 Lewis Ludlow, 6 Jake Polledri, 5 Jeremy Thrush, 4 Ed Slater (captain), 3 John Afoa, 2 James Hanson, 1 Josh Hohneck.
Replacements: 16 Motu Matu’u, 17 Paddy McAllister, 18 Fraser Balmain, 19 Tom Savage, 20 Freddie Clarke, 21 Ruan Ackermann, 22 Ben Vellacott, 23 Tom Hudson.
Harlequins: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Charlie Walker, 13 Joe Marchant, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 Alofa Alofa, 10 Marcus Smith, 9 Danny Care, 8 Mat Luamanu, 7 Chris Robshaw, 6 Jack Clifford, 5 James Horwill (captain), 4 George Merrick, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 2 Joe Gray, 1 Joe Marler.
Replacements: 16 Elia Elia, 17 Mark Lambert, 18 Will Collier, 19 Stan South, 20 Luke Wallace, 21 Dave Lewis, 22 James Lang, 23 Gabriel Ibitoye.
Referee: Luke Pearce
Assistant referees: Anthony Woodthorpe, Jonathan Healy
TMO: Graham Hughes
Leicester Tigers 21-27 Northampton Saints
George Ford kicked one conversion and three penalties to surpass 1000 Premiership points but it wasn’t enough to salvage victory.
Just minutes after Ahsee Tuala prevented an Adam Thompstone try with a fine tackle, Ben Foden opened the scoring inside ten minutes after a powerful carry from Paul Hill.
Stephen Myler added the conversion and stretched the visitors’ advantage to ten points soon after with a penalty after 18 minutes at Welford Road.
The hosts, searching for a top four finish, replied through Telusa Veainu after a powerful run and offload from Ellis Genge punctured a hole in the Saints defence.
And when Graham Kitchener charged down a Saints box kick, Matt Toomua won the race to the loose ball and touched down to make it 12-10.
A training ground line-out move then saw Jacobus Reinach burst through from the back of a line-out for Saints’ second try which Myler converted to give the visitors a five-point lead at the break.
The Saints moved further ahead at the start of the second half as Reinach stormed through a gap before feeding Tuala who powered over the line to put the visitors 24-12 ahead.
Alex Waller was then sent to the sin bin as George Ford knocked over two penalties to reduce the deficit and bring Tigers to within six of their near-neighbours.
Following another Ford penalty, Jonah Holmes thought he’d put the Tigers ahead but, after consultation with the TMO, his score was chalked off for an obstruction by George Worth.
It proved to be decisive as Saints held on for the victory to severely damage Tigers semifinal hopes with two rounds of Premiership to play.
Tries: Veainu, Toomua
Pens: Ford 3
Tries: Foden, Reinach, Tuala
Cons: Myler 3
Pens: Myler 2
Leicester: 15 Telusa Veainu, 14 Adam Thompstone, 13 Matt Smith, 12 Matt Toomua, 11 Jonny May, 10 George Ford, 9 Sam Harrison, 8 Sione Kalamafoni, 7 Luke Hamilton, 6 Valentino Mapapalangi, 5 Graham Kitchener, 4 Mike Fitzgerald, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Tom Youngs (captain), 1 Ellis Genge.
Replacements: 16 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 17 Greg Bateman, 18 Logovi’i Mulipola, 19 Harry Wells, 20 Will Evans, 21 Ben Youngs, 22 George Worth, 23 Jonah Holmes.
Northampton: 15 Ahsee Tuala, 14 Ben Foden, 13 Rob Horne (captain), 12 Piers Francis, 11 George North, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Mitch Eadie, 7 Teimana Harrison, 6 Jamie Gibson, 5 James Craig, 4 Api Ratuniyarawa, 3 Paul Hill, 2 Mikey Haywood, 1 Campese Ma’afu.
Replacements: 16 Charlie Clare, 17 Alex Waller, 18 Ehren Painter, 19 Michael Paterson, 20 Ben Nutley, 21 Alex Mitchell, 22 Luther Burrell, 23 Tom Collins.
Referee: Matthew Carley
Assistant referees: Tom Foley, Paul Dix
TMO: Sean Davey
Wasps 30-15 Worcester Warriors
The effervescent Christian Wade showed Worcester's defence a clean pair of heels as he raced over after ten minutes, although Jimmy Gopperth’s conversion slipped narrowly wide of the target.
The Kiwi nailed his next effort, however, slotting three points after the visitors were penalised for offside, but Dorian Jones cancelled this out minutes later with a penalty of his own to get the visitors up and running.
But Dai Young’s men hit their opponents with a double-punch before the break, England lock Joe Launchbury crashing over from close range after strong work by Juan De Jongh, Gopperth converting.
And practically from the restart, Willie Le Roux sliced through the Worcester defence before setting up Wade to touch down for his second of the afternoon.
Despite missing the extras, Gopperth did kick another penalty before the whistle as the hosts finished the half in control.
Wasps had Jack Willis sin binned moments into the second period and Worcester threw bodies forward trying to make the extra man count.
However, dogged defending by the hosts kept Warriors at bay – David Denton agonisingly losing control of the ball inches from the line after a quick penalty.
Young’s side held firm and thought they had the bonus-point score 12 minutes from time – Guy Thompson finished a terrific team move after Wade unselfishly set him up but it was ruled out by the officials after an earlier infringement by Gopperth, who was also sent to the sin bin.
But this was momentary respite for Worcester as Josh Bassett intercepted a pass to race clear under the posts for the fourth try, Elliot Daly adding the easy two in Gopperth’s absence.
Warriors did give their fans something to cheer when Dean Hammond crossed a minute from time, Jamie Shillcock sending the conversion wide.
And one became two for the Warriors in added time when Josh Adams powered over, Shillcock making no mistake this time.
Tries: Wade 2, Launchbury, Bassett
Cons: Gopperth, Daly
Pens: Gopperth 2
Tries: Hammond, Adams
Wasps: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Christian Wade, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Jimmy Gopperth, 11 Elliot Daly, 10 Danny Cipriani, 9 Dan Robson, 8 Guy Thompson, 7 Thomas Young, 6 Jack Willis, 5 Will Rowlands, 4 Joe Launchbury (captain), 3 Jake Cooper-Woolley, 2 Tom Cruse, 1 Matt Mullan.
Replacements: 16 Tommy Taylor, 17 Simon McIntyre, 18 Marty Moore, 19 Kearnan Myall, 20 James Haskell, 21 Craig Hampson, 22 Gaby Lovobalavu, 23 Josh Bassett.
Worcester: 15 Chris Pennell, 14 Bryce Heem, 13 Ben Te’o, 12 Jackson Willison, 11 Josh Adams, 10 Dorian Jones, 9 Michael Dowsett, 8 GJ van Velze (captain), 7 Sam Lewis, 6 David Denton, 5 Will Spencer, 4 Darren Barry, 3 Nick Schonert, 2 Jack Singleton, 1 Ryan Bower.
Replacements: 16 Kurt Haupt, 17 Ethan Waller, 18 Gareth Milasinovich, 19 Andrew Kitchener, 20 Marco Mama, 21 Jonny Arr, 22 Jamie Shillcock, 23 Dean Hammond.
Referee: Ian Tempest
Assistant referees: Adam Leal, Wayne Falla
TMO: Stuart Terheege