Saints stun title holders Chiefs
PREMIERSHIP SATURDAY WRAP: Exeter Chiefs suffered their second home Premiership defeat of the season after Joe Simmonds failed to take a last-minute conversion against Northampton Saints.
The narrow 13-12 win was the Saints’ first win on Exeter soil for seven years and they richly deserved to claim one of their most impressive triumphs under rugby director Chris Boyd.
But the game ended in dramatic fashion after Exeter lock Sam Skinner scored an 80th-minute try. Joe Simmonds had a chance to win it with the resulting touchline conversion attempt, only for Northampton players to attempt a charge-down and Simmonds was sufficiently distracted to not even make contact between boot and ball.
Exeter players complained to referee Christophe Ridley after he blew the final whistle, but it was to no avail and Northampton celebrated.
No.8 Shaun Adendorff scored an early try for the visitors, which Francis converted, but Exeter could only muster a Jack Yeandle touchdown in reply, converted by Harvey Skinner, until Sam Skinner struck.
Scotland captain Stuart Hogg returned from Six Nations duty and started for Exeter, while Josh Hodge moved to the wing instead of Alex Cuthbert and Skinner replaced fly-half Simmonds, who was among the substitutes. Northampton boss Boyd made five changes, including only a third start of his professional career at fly-half for George Furbank, with wing Matt Proctor and full-back Ahsee Tuala also among Saints’ call-ups.
Referee Ridley awarded numerous penalties during the early exchanges, and testing conditions – driving rain and a gusting wind – did not enhance the spectacle. Furbank’s first contribution was an impressive one, finding touch just five metres out and giving his team a platform to score the game’s opening try.
— rugby365.com (@rugby365com) February 20, 2021
Elsewhere, Leicester recorded a convincing 27-8 victory over Wasps at Welford Road in a Premiership match that had three red cards.
The Tigers led 11-3 when their try-scorer Jacob Wiese was dismissed after 26 minutes but the hosts extended their advantage by another three points before Wasps prop Kieran Brookes saw red to even up the numbers.
Julian Montoya and Tommy Reffell crossed for further tries either side of Tom Cruse’s effort for Wasps before Leicester back-rower Hanro Liebenberg was sent off with two minutes left.
While the resurgence of Harlequins following the departure of Paul Gustard produced its best result yet as Sale were dispatched 24-12 to claim third place in the Premiership.
Marcus Smith continued to show England what they are missing with a virtuoso display at flyhalf, the highlight of which was the dynamic break that led to Alex Dombrandt’s try.
Harlequins 24-12 Sale Sharks
Tries: Marchant 2, Dombrandt
Cons: Smith 3
For Sale Sharks
Tries: Langdon, R du Preez
Con: R du Preez
Harlequins: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Louis Lynagh, 13 Joe Marchant, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Aaron Morris, 10 Marcus Smith, 9 Danny Care, 8 Alex Dombrandt, 7 Will Evans, 6 Archie White, 5 Stephan Lewies (captain), 4 Matt Symons, 3 Simon Kerrod, 2 Scott Baldwin, 1 Joe Marler.
Replacements: 16 Elia Elia, 17 Jordan Els, 18 Wilco Louw, 19 Glen Young, 20 James Chisholm, 21 Martin Landajo, 22 Brett Herron, 23 Luke Northmore.
Sale: 15 Simon Hammersley, 14 Denny Solomona, 13 Sam James, 12 Luke James, 11 Marland Yarde, 10 Robert du Preez, 9 Will Cliff, 8 Daniel du Preez, 7 Jono Ross (captain), 6 Jean-Luc du Preez, 5 Josh Beaumont, 4 Matt Postlethwaite, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 2 Ewan Ashman, 1 Valery Morozov.
Replacements: 16 Curtis Langdon, 17 Bevan Rodd, 18 WillGriff John, 19 Lood de Jager, 20 Cobus Wiese, 21 Cameron Neild, 22 Raffi Quirke, 23 Conor Doherty.
Referee: Ian Tempest
Assistant Referees: Simon Harding, Simon McConnell
TMO: David Grashoff
Exeter Chiefs 12-13 Northampton Saints
For Exeter Chiefs
Tries: Yeandle, S Skinner
Con: H Skinner
Pens: Francis 2
Exeter: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Tom O’Flaherty, 13 Tom Hendrickson, 12 Ollie Devoto, 11 Josh Hodge, 10 Harvey Skinner, 9 Jack Maunder, 8 Sam Simmonds, 7 Richard Capstick, 6 Dave Ewers, 5 Sam Skinner, 4 Will Witty, 3 Harry Williams, 2 Jack Yeandle (captain), 1 Alec Hepburn.
Replacements: 16 Jack Innard, 17 James Kenny, 18 Marcus Street, 19 Don Armand, 20 Sean Lonsdale, 21 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, 22 Joe Simmonds, 23 Ian Whitten.
Northampton: 15 Ahsee Tuala, 14 Matt Proctor, 13 Rory Hutchinson, 12 Piers Francis, 11 Ollie Sleightholme, 10 George Furbank, 9 Alex Mitchell, 8 Shaun Adendorff, 7 Lewis Ludlam (co-captain), 6 Nick Isiekwe, 5 Api Ratuniyarawa, 4 David Ribbans, 3 Ehren Painter, 2 Sam Matavesi, 1 Alex Waller (co-captain).
Replacements: 16 Reece Marshall, 17 Nick Auterac, 18 Paul Hill, 19 Alex Coles, 20 Tom Wood, 21 Henry Taylor, 22 Harry Mallinder, 23 Taqele Naiyaravoro.
Referee: Christophe Ridley
Assistant Referees: Dean Richards, Phil Watters.
TMO: Keith Lewis
Leicester Tigers 27-8 Wasps
Tries: Wiese, Montoya, Reffell
Pens: Henry 4
Leicester: 15 Freddie Steward, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Matías Moroni, 12 Matt Scott, 11 Kini Murimurivalu, 10 Zack Henry, 9 Richard Wigglesworth (captain), 8 Jasper Wiese, 7 Cyle Brink, 6 Hanro Liebenberg, 5 Tomás Lavanini, 4 Calum Green, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Julián Montoya, 1 Luan de Bruin.
Replacements: 16 Tom Youngs, 17 Nephi Leatigaga, 18 Joe Heyes, 19 Harry Wells, 20 Tommy Reffell, 21 Jack van Poortvliet, 22 Johnny McPhillips, 23 Dan Kelly.
Wasps: 15 Matteo Minozzi, 14 Zach Kibirige, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Jimmy Gopperth, 11 Josh Bassett, 10 Charlie Atkinson, 9 Ben Vellacott, 8 Tom Willis, 7 Ben Morris, 6 Brad Shields (captain), 5 James Gaskell, 4 Will Rowlands, 3 Kieran Brookes, 2 Tommy Taylor, 1 Tom West.
Replacements: 16 Tom Cruse, 17 Ben Harris, 18 Jeff Toomaga-Allen, 19 Levi Douglas, 20 Sione Vailanu, 21 Alex Schwarz, 22 Jacob Umaga, 23 Michael Le Bourgeois.
Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys
Assistant Referees: Jack Makepeace, John Meredith
TMO: Claire Hodnett