Hougaard the hero as Saracens edge Bristol with last-gasp try
PREMIERSHIP SATURDAY WRAP: Francois Hougaard scored a dramatic winning try on his Saracens league debut as the Premiership leaders edged out Bristol 20-19 on Saturday.
The South African struck with the clock almost three minutes into the red, rounding off a spell of relentless pressure that broke the resilient visitors.
It was Saracens’ 12th Premiership win of the season, but Bristol remain rooted at the basement.
The visitors led by nine points midway through the final quarter but wing Rotimi Segun followed up hooker Theo Dan’s earlier try with Saracens’ second touchdown, before Hougaard struck, while fullback Alex Goode kicked a penalty and conversion.
Hooker Harry Thacker and wing Gabriel Ibitoye touched down for Bristol, with centre James Williams kicking two penalties and flyhalf AJ MacGinty one.
Saracens were without their sizeable England contingent ahead of next weekend’s Six Nations kick-off, with flank Jackson Wray captaining the team on his 300th first-team appearance, packing down alongside Andy Christie and Billy Vunipola.
Ollie Sleightholme’s superbly taken try earned Northampton a 19-18 victory at the home of champions Leicester.
They twice battled back from behind to record just their second win in eight games in all competitions and ended the day fourth in the table.
Exeter went third with a hard-fought 24-17 victory at Sandy Park, thanks to tries from Jonny Gray, Solomone Kata and Olly Woodburn.
Second-placed Sale beat struggling Bath 30-27 on Friday.
The scores and scorers:
Saracens 20-19 Bristol
Tries: Dan, Segun, Hougaard
Tries: Thacker, Ibitoye
Pens: MacGinty, Williams 2
Saracens: 15 Alex Goode, 14 Rotimi Segun, 13 Alex Lozowski, 12 Duncan Taylor, 11 Alex Lewington, 10 Manu Vunipola, 9 Aled Davies, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Jackson Wray (captain), 6 Andy Christie, 5 Hugh Tizard, 4 Andrew Kitchener, 3 Christian Judge, 2 Theo Dan, 1 Robin Hislop.
Replacements: 16 Kapeli Pifeleti, 17 Eroni Mawi, 18 Alec Clarey, 19 Cameron Boon, 20 Tom Ellis, 21 Ivan van Zyl, 22 Nick Tompkins, 23 Francois Hougaard.
Bristol: 15 Rich Lane, 14 Siva Naulago, 13 Semi Radradra, 12 James Williams, 11 Gabriel Ibitoye, 10 AJ MacGinty, 9 Harry Randall, 8 Magnus Bradbury, 7 Jake Heenan, 6 Steven Luatua (captain), 5 Chris Vui, 4 Joe Batley, 3 Max Lahiff, 2 Harry Thacker, 1 Yann Thomas.
Replacements: 16 Bryan Byrne, 17 Jake Woolmore, 18 Jonathan Benz-Salomon, 19 Ed Holmes, 20 Fitz Harding, 21 Andy Uren, 22 Callum Sheedy, 23 Jack Bates.
Referee: Anthony Woodthorpe
Assistant Referees: Simon Harding, Jamie Leahy
TMO: Stuart Terheege
Leicester Tigers 18-19 Northampton Saints
Tries: Potter 2
Pens: Pollard, Burns
Pens: Furbank 4
Leicester: 15 Freddie Burns, 14 Anthony Watson, 13 Matt Scott, 12 Guy Porter, 11 Harry Potter, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Sam Edwards, 8 Jasper Wiese, 7 Tommy Reffell, 6 Hanro Liebenberg (captain), 5 Eli Snyman, 4 Harry Wells, 3 Will Hurd, 2 Julián Montoya, 1 James Whitcombe.
Replacements: 16 Charlie Clare, 17 Tom West, 18 Dan Richardson, 19 George Martin, 20 Olly Cracknell, 21 Tom Whiteley, 22 Jimmy Gopperth, 23 Harry Simmons.
Northampton: 15 James Ramm, 14 Courtnall Skosan, 13 Matt Proctor, 12 Rory Hutchinson, 11 Ollie Sleightholme, 10 George Furbank (captain), 9 Tom James, 8 Juarno Augustus, 7 Aaron Hinkley, 6 Angus Scott-Young, 5 Alex Coles, 4 Alex Moon, 3 Paul Hill, 2 Mike Haywood, 1 Alex Waller.
Replacements: 16 Robbie Smith, 17 Ethan Waller, 18 Alfie Petch, 19 Brandon Nansen, 20 Karl Wilkins, 21 Sam Graham, 22 Callum Braley, 23 Tom Litchfield.
Referee: Wayne Barnes
Assistant Referees: Jack Makepeace, Wayne Falla
TMO: Rowan Kitt
Exeter Chiefs 24-17 Gloucester
For Exeter Chiefs:
Tries: Gray, Kata, Woodburn
Cons: Skinner 3
Tries: May, Rapava Ruskin
Cons: Twelvetrees 2
Exeter: 15 Josh Hodge, 14 Jack Nowell, 13 Ian Whitten, 12 Solomone Kata, 11 Olly Woodburn, 10 Harvey Skinner, 9 Sam Maunder, 8 Greg Fisilau, 7 Jannes Kirsten, 6 Dave Ewers, 5 Dafydd Jenkins, 4 Jonny Gray, 3 Harry Williams, 2 Jack Innard, 1 Scott Sio.
Replacements: 16 Dan Frost, 17 James Kenny, 18 Patrick Schickerling, 19 Jack Dunne, 20 Aidon Davis, 21 Jack Maunder, 22 Joe Simmonds, 23 Rory O’Loughlin.
Gloucester: 15 Santiago Carreras, 14 Jonny May, 13 Chris Harris, 12 Seb Atkinson, 11 Ollie Thorley, 10 Billy Twelvetrees, 9 Ben Meehan, 8 Albert Tuisue, 7 Lewis Ludlow (captain), 6 Ruan Ackermann, 5 Matias Alemanno, 4 Cam Jordan, 3 Kirill Gotovtsev, 2 Seb Blake, 1 Val Rapava-Ruskin.
Replacements: 16 Henry Walker, 17 Harry Elrington, 18 Jamal Ford-Robinson, 19 Freddie Clarke, 20 Ben Morgan, 21 Charlie Chapman, 22 Tom Seabrook, 23 Lloyd Evans.
Referee: Tom Foley
Assistant Referees: Craig Maxwell-Keys, Phil Watters
TMO: David Rose