Augustus and Skosan doubles help Saints smash Bath
PREMIERSHIP WRAP: Juarno Augustus and Courtnall Skosan were on fire for Northampton Saints on Saturday.
The South African duo put Bath to the sword with two tries apiece, as Northampton Saints scored six in a 40-19 Premiership triumph.
The Saints led 28-12 at the interval at Franklin’s Gardens, with scores from Rory Hutchinson, Tommy Freeman and Augustus’ double securing a try bonus point inside the first 40 minutes.
Bath hit back with a try after half-time, but Skosan charged over the whitewash twice more – taking his own Saints tally to seven tries in just five matches so far – to put some gloss on the scoreline and send Northampton into third place in the league table heading into the European break.
Meanwhile, Exeter beat fierce Premiership rivals Saracens 18-15 in a showdown between two of England’s rugby heavyweights on Saturday.
While the eagerly awaited contest fell below expectations in terms of its overall quality, Exeter took charge at key moments to inflict only a second Premiership defeat this season on Saracens.
Wing Tom O’Flaherty and hooker Luke Cowan-Dickie scored tries for Exeter as they remained firmly in play-off contention, with flyhalf Joe Simmonds kicking two penalties and a conversion.
Centre Alex Lozowski supplied all of Saracens’ points through five penalties, but a losing bonus point was all his team collected.
The game had been billed in some quarters as a grudge match, with Saracens making a first trip to Devon since returning to English rugby’s top flight after being relegated last year and fined for persistent salary cap breaches.
Exeter lost the 2018 and 2019 Premiership finals to Saracens at Twickenham, and they did not hold back in subsequent criticism of their fierce rivals as the salary-cap saga unfolded.
It raised the ante for a sold-out showdown, but it was more workmanlike than spectacular throughout the 80 minutes as Exeter prevailed.
“It was a step up in everything from us,” said Exeter director of rugby Rob Baxter.
“We made plenty of errors, as did Saracens, but we had the determination to bounce back from disappointment and keep working hard.
“I know a lot of people want to drive the Exeter versus Saracens thing, but for me it was important to play well against one of the teams who are going to be in or around the Premiership top four all the season.”
Worcester held on to beat Wasps 32-31 after Jimmy Gopperth missed a late touchline conversion for the visitors.
Winger Ollie Hassell-Collins scored a hat-trick as London Irish beat Newcastle Falcons 43-21.
The scores and scorers:
Exeter 18-15 Saracens
Tries: O’Flaherty, Cowan-Dickie
Con: J Simmonds
Pens: J Simmonds 2
Pens: Lozowski 5
London Irish 43-21 Newcastle Falcons
For London Irish:
Tries: Rowe, Hassell-Collins 3, Mafi, Creevy
Cons: Jackson 5
Tries: Robinson, Chick, Radwan
Cons: Haydon-Wood 2, Connon
Northampton 40-19 Bath
Tries: Augustus 2, Skosan 2, Hutchinson, Freeman
Cons: Biggar 4, Furbank
Tries: Underhill, Boyce, Stuart
Cons: De Glanville 2
Worcester 32-31 Wasps
Tries: Simpson, Van der Merwe, Hill, Chudley
Cons: Smith 3
Pens: Smith 2
Tries: Frost 2, Fifita, Wolstenholme, T Willis
Cons: Gopperth 3
Source: @SaintsRugby & AFP