Faf stars as Sharks down Wasps
PREMIERSHIP WRAP: Faf de Klerk inspired Sale Sharks to a 24-18 victory over Wasps to emphatically bounce back from their 50-point defeat at Northampton Saints in round 13 of the Premiership.
The South African scrumhalf was instrumental in all three of his side’s tries and kicked seven points during Steve Diamond’s side’s win at the Ricoh Arena.
Mike Brown scored a record-equalling 89th try for Harlequins as they moved back into third in the Premiership Rugby table after a 36-26 victory over Bristol Bears.
The returning Olly Woodburn scored one of five Exeter Chiefs tries as they returned to the top of the Premiership Rugby table with a convincing win 35-17 over Newcastle Falcons.
While, avid Ribbans’s stunning late score sealed a comeback win for Northampton Saints as the Midlands side moved up into the Premiership Rugby top six.
Wasps 18-24 Sharks
Quick-thinking from de Klerk paved the way for the game’s opening points when he tapped a close-range scrum penalty and former Wasp Rob Webber was on hand to power over for a tenth-minute try.
The South African was key to Sale’s second try when he intercepted metres from his own line and kicked deep into the Wasps 22.
Sharks turned the screw and England winger Denny Solomona scooped a pass from around his ankles to crash through Willie le Roux’s tackle for a try de Klerk converted tight to the right touchline.
Wasps landed eight points before the break when captain Ashley Johnson completed a rolling maul from a close-range lineout. Lima Sopoaga missed the conversion but added a penalty shortly afterwards to cut the deficit to six points.
On the stroke of half-time de Klerk landed his third successful kick of the afternoon to give the visitors a 17-8 lead.
But there was no stopping Wasps Joe Simpson when Nizaam Carr’s pass was perfectly-timed and legal to free the Gloucester-bound scrumhalf for a fluid try Sopoaga improved.
Sale wrestled back the momentum when Solomona pinned his ears back for the corner only to be denied by Carr’s covering tackle.
After a lengthy TMO check, Carr was sinbinned and the penalty try was awarded to restore Sale’s nine-point advantage with 25 minutes remaining.
Dai Young’s side pressed for a dramatic late score with a multi-phase attack but Sharks held firm with the clock deep into the red to go some way to banishing the nightmare suffered at Franklin’s Gardens a week ago.
Tries: Johnson, Simpson
Pens: Sopoaga, Miller
For Sale Sharks:
Tries: Webber, Solomona, Penalty try
Cons: De Klerk 2
Pen: De Klerk
Yellow card: Nizaam Carr (Wasps, 55)
Wasps: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Marcus Watson, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Gaby Lovobalavu, 11 Josh Bassett, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Joe Simpson, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Ben Morris, 6 Ashley Johnson (captain), 5 James Gaskell, 4 Will Rowlands, 3 Will Stuart, 2 Tom Cruse, 1 Zurabi Zhvania
Replacements: 16 Tommy Taylor, 17 Ben Harris, 18 Biyi Alo, 19 Charlie Matthews, 20 Jack Willis, 21 Craig Hampson, 22 Rob Miller, 23 Michael Le Bourgeois
Sale Sharks: 15 Luke James, 14 Denny Solomona, 13 James O’Connor, 12 Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 11 Byron McGuigan, 10 Sam James, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Josh Beaumont, 7 Ben Curry, 6 Jono Ross (captain), 5 James Phillips, 3 WillGriff John, 2 Rob Webber, 1 Valery Morozov
Replacements: 16 Curtis Langdon, 17 Tom Bristow, 18 Joe Jones, 19 Andrei Ostrikov, 20 Cameron Neild, 21 Will Cliff, 22 Cameron Redpath, 23 Arron Reed
Referee: Andrew Jackson
Assistant Referees: Matthew O’Grady & Paul Dix
TMO: David Grashoff
Harlequins 36-26 Bristol Bears
Brown, who has played for Quins since 2005, dived over for Quins’ third score to tie Ugo Monye’s record in the professional era.
Joe Marchant, Harlequins’ top try scorer this season, scored his 11th try of the campaign while young star Nathan Earle grabbed his seventh try in the league to cement the win late on.
Bristol Bears remain with four wins in the competition and also remain the only side in the league yet to win on the road.
The Bears made the better start and dominated possession in the opening exchanges, resulting in Charles Piutau powering over the line after a kick from Callum Sheedy set-up Steven Luatua to penetrate the home defence.
However, Quins made an immediate comeback after Charlie Mulchrone took advantage of a loose ball and his kick in Bristol’s 22 gave the opportunity for Ross Chisholm to score.
In the topsy-turvy opening 20 minutes, Bristol responded well with them applying pressure in the scrum and Alapati Leiua was able to dive over in the nick of time to hand back the advantage to the visitors.
But Marcus Smith saw a gap in the Bristol defence dummied through to score before Brown crossed for his magic moment minutes later.
And with less than five minutes to go before the half-time whistle, Marchant gave his side bonus point after an unselfish pass from Ben Glynn saw him ghost through to give the home side a 14 point advantage at the break.
The Bears kept on attacking and Piutau’s weaving run allowed replacement Andy Uren to pass to Sheedy, who went through under the posts and give Bristol hope of a comeback.
However, Bristol gave away a penalty with little over 10 minutes to go and James Lang sent the kick over from 40 metres for the home side.
Earle then took advantage of a stunning pass from Dave Lewis in the 77th minute to dot down before Bristol earned a consolation try through Leiua’s second try of the match.
Tries: Chrisholm, Smith, Brown, Marchant, Earle
Cons: Smith 3, Lang
For Bristol Bears:
Tries: Puitau, Sheedy, Leiua
Cons: Sheedy, Madigan
Harlequins: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Nathan Earle, 13 Joe Marchant, 12 Ben Tapuai, 11 Ross Chisholm, 10 Marcus Smith, 9 Charlie Mulchrone, 8 Alex Dombrandt, 7 Chris Robshaw, 6 Jack Clifford, 5 James Horwill, 4 Ben Glynn, 3 Will Collier, 2 Elia Elia, 1 Joe Marler
Replacements: 16 Dave Ward, 17 Lewis Boyce, 18 Phil Swainston, 19 George Merrick, 20 James Chisholm, 21 Dave Lewis, 22 James Lang, 23 Francis Saili
Bristol Bears: 15 Charles Piutau, 14 Luke Daniels, 13 Piers O’Conor, 12 Siale Piutau, 11 Alapati Leiua, 10 Callum Sheedy, 9 Harry Randall, 8 Jordan Crane, 7 George Smith, 6 Steve Luatua, 5 Chris Vui, 4 Joe Batley, 3 John Afoa, 2 Sam Parry, 1 Jake Woolmore
Replacements: 16 Harry Thacker, 17 Yann Thomas, 18 Lewis Thiede, 19 Nick Haining, 20 Dan Thomas, 21 Andy Uren, 22 Ian Madigan, 23 Mat Protheroe
Referee: Tom Foley
Assistant Referees: Hamish Smales & Wayne Falla
TMO: Stuart Terheege
Exeter Chiefs 36-17 Newcastle Falcons
Winger Woodburn hadn’t played in the competition since Round One against Leicester Tigers due to a broken jaw, then a torn hamstring, but crossed for one of three first-half tries – Santiago Cordero and Jack Yeandle getting the others.
Sonatane Takulua’s score ensured it was 21-7 at half-time but Nic White sealed the bonus point after the break and although Chief-slayer Zach Kibirige maintained his remarkable try-scoring record against the West Country side by dotting down twice for Falcons, Greg Holmes sealed a 35-17 triumph.
Exeter were knocked off top spot by Saracens a week ago, following a loss to Gloucester Rugby, but bounced back to maintain a superb home record that has seen them lose just one game in any competition since last February.
Meanwhile, bottom-of-the-table Newcastle have lost five successive Gallagher Premiership Rugby games and their all-time record at Sandy Park now reads: played 12, lost 12.
The Chiefs showed few signs of a hangover from last week’s defeat to Gloucester as a strong start was rewarded with a try on eight minutes – Alex Cuthbert producing a sumptuous offload down the right and Cordero jinking over under the posts from the 22.
Exeter then put their foot on the accelerator and after earning multiple penalties deep in Falcons territory, they opted for a five-metre scrum to set a platform from which Yeandle burrowed over a couple of phases later.
Newcastle responded almost instantly as Sinoti Sinoti weaved between defenders in the 22 and offloaded to Takulua for the score but, after Kibirige was sin-binned for a deliberate knock-on, the hosts took immediate advantage.
They spread the ball to the left corner vacated by Kibirige’s absence and an overlap allowed Woodburn – playing his first Gallagher Premiership Rugby match since the opening day – to dive over, with Gareth Steenson nailing his third conversion from three.
Falcons were then unable to turn a promising attacking position into points just before the break and were punished as Exeter secured the four-try bonus point early in the second half with a great line by Ollie Devoto breaking the defence before White sniped over from a ruck.
Falcons gave themselves a sniff when Kibirige was able to wind his way through the defence and over the whitewash from 35 metres after a Chris Harris offload, although Toby Flood’s missed conversion left the score at 28-12.
Exeter then killed the game off as Holmes powered over from a metre out following good build-up play, before Kibirige had the last word as he notched a sixth try of the season against Rob Baxter’s men in all competitions by racing 70 metres in support of an Andrew Davidson line break to score in the left corner.
For Exeter CHiefs:
Tries: Cordero, Yeandle, Woodburn, White, Greg Holmes
Cons: Steenson 5
For Newcastle Falcons
Tries: Takulua, Kibirge
Yellow card: Zach Kibirige (Newcastle Falcons, 23)
Exeter Chiefs: 15 Santiago Cordero, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Ian Whitten, 12 Ollie Devoto, 11 Olly Woodburn, 10 Gareth Steenson, 9 Nic White, 8 Matt Kvesic, 7 Don Armand, 6 Dave Ewers, 5 Jonny Hill, 4 Dave Dennis, 3 Greg Holmes, 2 Jack Yeandle (captain), 1 Alec Hepburn
Replacements: 16 Jack Innard, 17 Billy Keast, 18 Marcus Street, 19 Mitch Lees, 20 Sean Lonsdale, 21 Jack Maunder, 22 Joe Simmonds, 23 Sam Hill
Newcastle Falcons: 15 Simon Hammersley, 14 Zach Kibirige, 13 Chris Harris, 12 Johnny Williams, 11 Sinoti Sinoti, 10 Toby Flood, 9 Sonatane Takulua, 8 Callum Chick, 7 John Hardie, 6 Will Welch (captain), 5 Andrew Davidson, 4 Calum Green, 3 David Wilson, 2 George McGuigan, 1 Sam Lockwood
Replacements: 16 Santiago Socino, 17 Logovi’i Mulipola, 18 Jack Payne, 19 Will Witty, 20 Nemani Nagusa, 21 Sam Stuart, 22 Tim Swiel, 23 Ben Stevenson
Referee: Luke Pearce
Assistant Referees: Anthony Woodthorpe & Philip Watters
TMO: Geoff Warren
Northampton Saints 27-26 Bath
Ribbans barged his way over in added time to give young fly-half James Grayson a conversion opportunity, which he dispatched to earn the win and draw a roar from the home fans.
It was so cruel for Bath Rugby, who thought they had won it after tries from Ruaridh McConnochie and Zach Mercer, allied with 16 points from the boot of Rhys Priestland.
But Saints showed real spirit and Ribbans’ score proved key, adding to earlier efforts from Rory Hutchinson and Alex Mitchell.
Grayson gave Saints a hard-earned 3-0 lead on 17 minutes and after Cooper Vuna was just beaten to his own kick by Ahsee Tuala, McConnochie managed to score on the other wing, racing down the left to dot down.
Priestland converted to give Bath a 7-3 lead, and he was on target early in the second period after his side won a penalty at the scrum.
Northampton hit back in style as George Furbank sent Hutchinson away down the right and after Bath scrambled, Hutchinson eventually picked up the ball again to score.
Impressive No.8 Mercer then spotted a gap in the Saints defence and sprinted through it to score, with Priestland adding the extras.
Grayson landed a penalty for Northampton after Bath were penalised at the scrum, with the game still very much up for grabs with more than 20 minutes to go.
Priestland cancelled out that effort, but Northampton found their way through for their second try thanks to Mitchell’s awareness and speed.
Priestland landed two quick penalties for Bath, but there was still time for Northampton to win it late on as Ribbans used his power and Grayson kept his cool to convert.
Tries: Hutchinson, Mitcell, Ribbans
Cons: Grayson 3
Pens: Grayson 2
Tries: McCOnnochie, Mercer
Cons: Priestland 2
Pens: Priestland 4
Northampton Saints: 15 George Furbank, 14 Ahsee Tuala, 13 Rory Hutchinson, 12 Piers Francis, 11 Taqele Naiyaravoro, 10 James Grayson, 9 Alex Mitchell, 8 Tom Wood, 7 Lewis Ludlam, 6 James Haskell, 5 David Ribbans, 4 Api Ratuniyarawa, 3 Paul Hill, 2 Reece Marshall, 1 Alex Waller (captain)
Replacements: 16 James Fish, 17 Francois van Wyk, 18 Ben Franks, 19 Alex Moon, 20 Jamie Gibson, 21 Cobus Reinach, 22 Luther Burrell, 23 Ken Pisi
Bath: 15 Darren Atkins, 14 Ruaridh McConnochie, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Jackson Willison, 11 Cooper Vuna, 10 Rhys Priestland, 9 Will Chudley, 8 Zach Mercer, 7 Francois Louw, 6 Elliott Stooke, 5 Luke Charteris, 4 Dave Attwood, 3 Henry Thomas, 2 Tom Dunn, 1 Nathan Catt
Replacements: 16 Jack Walker, 17 Jacques van Rooyen, 18 Max Lahiff, 19 Charlie Ewels, 20 Paul Grant, 21 Max Green, 22 Freddie Burns, 23 Max Clark
Referee: Ian Tempest
Assistant Referees: Robert Warburton & Simon McConnell
TMO: Nigel Carrick & Trevor Fisher