Hougaard hat-trick not enough as Sale edge Worcester
PREMIERSHIP SATURDAY WRAP: A second-half hat-trick of tries from Francois Hougaard was not quite enough to secure victory for Worcester as they went down 32-35 to play-off contenders Sale Sharks at Sixways.
In Saturday’s other matches, Gloucester beat Newcastle Falcons 35-24 at Kingsholm and Northampton Saints left Welford Road with a 23-18 win over Leicester Tigers.
In the day’s early game, Harlequins edged London Irish 25-21 at Brentford Community Stadium, despite centre Andre Esterhuizen getting a red card early in the second half.
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🎥 “It’s tough losing like that but we showed massive character and heart.”
Hat-trick hero @Francoishougi reflects on today’s gutsy performance.
(𝘣𝘦𝘢𝘳 𝘸𝘪𝘵𝘩 𝘶𝘴 𝘰𝘯 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘢𝘶𝘥𝘪𝘰 𝘲𝘶𝘢𝘭𝘪𝘵𝘺) pic.twitter.com/ItTHprz5Wg
— Worcester Warriors (@WorcsWarriors) April 24, 2021
Back at Sixways, the Warriors had to settle for the consolation of two bonus points but it could so easily have been more from a performance that bristled with pride and passion.
Worcester’s Ollie Lawrence had a try disallowed in the second half by referee Christophe Ridley and TMO David Grashoff who ruled that the England centre had been tackled before he reached out to place the ball over the line.
The other turning point of the Worcester v Sale came after 67 minutes when Warriors had a penalty advantage which was overturned when Niall Annett was penalised for accidentally taking out a man in the air.
Instead of an attacking line-out in Sale’s 22, Warriors found themselves defending and a break from Tom Curry set up Arron Reed for the first of two tries in a four-minute period.
But Warriors refused to lie down and Hougaard scored twice in the last six minutes to set up a thrilling finale.
Even though there was under a minute to play when Jamie Shillcock converted Hougaard’s hat-trick try the Warriors still managed to rattle Sale with Lawrence powering up the right before Currey scrambled back to win a penalty at the breakdown.
After three successive heavy defeats, Warriors head coach Jonathan Thomas asked for a response from his players and he certainly got it with a physical and resilient performance.
Sale, against the run of play, had the opportunity to open the after 14 minutes scoring, but AJ MacGinty pushed a kickable penalty wide of the target.
Shillcock made no mistake two minutes later when Sale were penalised for holding on in a ruck and the fullback then scored a superb try that started deep in his own 22.
Sale gave away another penalty but referee Christophe Ridley played advantage and Fin Smith capitalised with a clever crossfield kick which found Alex Hearle.
The left wing gathered and managed to keep the ball in play before he was nudged into touch. Shillcock collected, chipped ahead, regathered and slipped out of a tackle to dot down for the try.
Shillcock was off target with the conversion but he made no mistake with a 26th-minute penalty after Sale went offside under pressure from another sustained attack.
Sale struck back when centre Connor Doherty nipped in for a converted try before Shillcock was off target with a penalty in the dying seconds of the first half.
Warriors began the second half strongly with Alex Hearle charging down a clearance kick and feeding Hougaard, who was doubtful for the match because of illness.
Shillcock added the extras but Sale hit back immediately with a try from Byron McGuigan even though they were down to 14 men at the time with Reed in the sin bin.
Lawrence’s disallowed try and the reversed penalty were two huge momentum shifts in Sale’s favour and when Coenie Oosthuizen ploughed over nine minutes from time it appeared that Warriors’ efforts might go unrewarded.
But a superb attack involving Ted Hill and Lawrence was expertly finished by Hougaard and converted by Shillcock to reduce the deficit to three points.
The gap became ten points again within three minutes when Dan du Preez crossed from close range and Kieran Wilkinson converted but Warriors never-say-die attitude produced a fourth try when replacement wing Harri Doel, on loan from Scarlets, wriggled free on the right and Hougaard again arrived in support to supply the finish.
Worcester 32-35 Sale Sharks
Tries: Hougaard 3, Shillcock
Cons: Shillcock 3
Pens: Shillcock 2
Tries: Doherty, McGuigan, Reed, Oosthuizen, D du Preez
Cons: MacGinty 4, Wilkinson
Yellow card: Arron Reed (Sale Sharks, 40)
Worcester: 15 Jamie Shillcock, 14 Tom Howe, 13 Ollie Lawrence, 12 Francois Venter, 11 Alex Hearle, 10 Fin Smith, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 GJ van Velze, 7 Sam Lewis, 6 Ted Hill (captain), 5 Andrew Kitchener, 4 Anton Bresler, 3 Nick Schonert, 2 Niall Annett, 1 Ethan Waller.
Replacements: 16 Isaac Miller, 17 Marc Thomas, 18 Richard Palframan, 19 Justin Clegg, 20 Tom Dodd, 21 Matt Kvesic, 22 Gareth Simpson, 23 Harri Doel.
Sale: 15 Simon Hammersley, 14 Byron McGuigan, 13 Sam James, 12 Connor Doherty, 11 Arron Reed, 10 AJ MacGinty, 9 Will Cliff, 8 Daniel du Preez, 7 Tom Curry (captain), 6 Cameron Neild, 5 JP du Preez, 4 Cobus Wiese, 3 WillGriff John, 2 Curtis Langdon, 1 Bevan Rodd.
Replacements: 16 Ewan Ashman, 17 Valery Morozov, 18 Coenie Oosthuizen, 19 James Phillips, 20 Jean Luc du Preez, 21 Raffi Quirke, 22 Kieran Wilkinson, 23 Luke James.
Referee: Christophe Ridley
Assistant Referees: Anthony Woodthorpe and Peter Allan
TMO: David Grashoff
Gloucester 35-24 Newcastle Falcons
Tries: Rees-Zammit, Ackermann, Heinz 2, Evans
Cons: Evans 4, Twelvetrees
Tries: Chick 2, McGuigan
Cons: Connon 3
Gloucester: 15 Kyle Moyle, 14 Louis Rees-Zammit, 13 Chris Harris, 12 Mark Atkinson, 11 Jonny May, 10 Lloyd Evans, 9 Stephen Varney, 8 Ruan Ackermann, 7 Lewis Ludlow (captain), 6 Jack Clement, 5 Alex Craig, 4 Ed Slater, 3 Fraser Balmain, 2 Jack Singleton, 1 Jamal Ford-Robinson.
Replacements: 16 Santiago Socino, 17 Conor Maguire, 18 Jack Stanley, 19 Matt Garvey, 20 Jordy Reid, 21 Willi Heinz, 22 Billy Twelvetrees, 23 Santiago Carreras.
Newcastle: 15 Tom Penny, 14 George Wacokecoke, 13 Matias Orlando, 12 Luther Burrell, 11 Chidera Obonna, 10 Brett Connon, 9 Michael Young (captain), 8 Callum Chick, 7 Gary Graham, 6 Will Welch, 5 Sean Robinson, 4 Greg Peterson, 3 Logovi’i Mulipola, 2 George McGuigan, 1 Trevor Davison.
Replacements: 16 Jamie Blamire, 17 Adam Brocklebank, 18 Rodney Ah You, 19 Marco Fuser, 20 Philip van der Walt, 21 Louis Schreuder, 22 Toby Flood, 23 Pete Lucock.
Referee: Luke Pearce
Assistant Referees: Adam Leal and Jonathan Healy
TMO: Sean Davey
Leicester Tigers 18-23 Northampton Saints
Tries: Nadolo 2
Pens: Ford 2
Tries: Ribbans, Hutchinson, Matavesi
Pens: Biggar 2
Yellow cards: Matt Scott (Leicester, 32); Harry Wells (Leicester 44); JJ Tonks (Northampton, 74)
Leicester: 15 Freddie Steward, 14 Kobus Van Wyk, 13 Matt Scott, 12 Dan Kelly, 11 Kini Murimurivalu, 10 George Ford, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Jasper Wiese, 7 Luke Wallace, 6 Hanro Liebenberg, 5 Calum Green, 4 Harry Wells, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Tom Youngs (captain), 1 Ellis Genge.
Replacements: 16 Charlie Clare, 17 Luan de Bruin, 18 Joe Heyes, 19 Tomás Lavanini, 20 Cyle Brink, 21 Jack Van Poortvliet, 22 Zack Henry, 23 Nemani Nadolo.
Northampton: 15 George Furbank, 14 Matt Proctor, 13 Rory Hutchinson, 12 Piers Francis, 11 Tommy Freeman, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Alex Mitchell, 8 Shaun Ardendorff, 7 Lewis Ludlam (co-captain), 6 Tom Wood, 5 Alex Moon, 4 David Ribbans, 3 Paul Hill, 2 Sam Matavesi, 1 Alex Waller (co-captain).
Replacements: 16 Mike Haywood, 17 Nick Auterac, 18 Oisín Heffernan, 19 Alex Coles, 20 JJ Tonks, 21 Tom James, 22 Ahsee Tuala, 23 Tom Collins.
Referee: Karl Dickson
Assistant Referees: Wayne Falla and Rob Warburton
TMO: Nigel Carrick
London Irish 21-25 Harlequins
For London Irish:
Tries: Loader, Hassell-Collins
Pens: Jackson 3
Tries: Brown, Murley, Smith
Cons: Smith 2
Pens: Smith 2
Red card: Andre Esterhuizen (Harlequins; 48)
London Irish: 15 Tom Parton, 14 Ben Loader, 13 Curtis Rona, 12 James Stokes, 11 Ollie Hassell-Collins, 10 Paddy Jackson, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Albert Tuisue, 7 Blair Cowan, 6 Matt Rogerson (captain), 5 Rob Simmons, 4 George Nott, 3 Ollie Hoskins, 2 Agustin Creevy, 1 Facundo Gigena.
Replacements: 16 Matt Cornish, 17 Harry Elrington, 18 Lovejoy Chawatama, 19 Chunya Munga, 20 Ben Donnell, 21 Caolan Englefield, 22 Jacob Atkins, 23 Tom Homer.
Harlequins: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Tyrone Green, 13 Joe Marchant, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Cadan Murley, 10 Marcus Smith, 9 Danny Care, 8 Alex Dombrandt (captain), 7 Will Evans, 6 Tom Lawday, 5 Dino Lamb, 4 Matt Symons, 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Scott Baldwin, 1 Joe Marler.
Replacements: 16 Joe Gray, 17 Jordan Els, 18 Will Collier, 19 Stephan Lewies, 20 Jack Kenningham, 21 Martin Landajo, 22 Will Edwards, 23 Luke Northmore.
Referee: Matthew Carley
Assistant Referees: Jack Makepeace and Simon McConnell
TMO: Geoff Warren
Additional source: @WorcsWarriors