Sat 22 Mar 2014 | 07:42
Sale shock Saints
Sat 22 Mar 2014 | 07:42
Sale shock SaintsSHARE
Sale Sharks asserted their top four credentials in style by becoming only the second side to defeat Northampton Saints in the Premiership this season, prevailing 19-6 at the AJ Bell Stadium.
Tries from Mark Cueto, Marc Jones and Tom Brady saw Sale romp into a 19-6 lead at half-time and a superb rearguard action in the second half kept Northampton at bay.
Saints welcomed back their England contingent of Courtney Lawes, Dylan Hartley, Luther Burrell, Lee Dickson and Tom Wood – not to mention Wales flyer George North – but the Saints were decidedly off colour, six days after losing the LV Cup final.
It's the first time Saints have lost back-to-back matches this season, a first Premiership defeat in 14 and it ended their run of 11 wins on the bounce, handing the initiative back to Saracens in the race for top spot.
For Sale meanwhile, it was a five win in sixth, took them up to fifth spot and boosted their play-off hopes no end.
Will Hooley, making his first Premiership start as a late replacement for Stephen Myler, put the visitors on the board after just three minutes from a penalty but Sale hit straight back five minutes later from a clever blind-side break by Dwayne Peel.
The ball was recycled and spread to the wing with Cueto going in to score his ninth of the season and his 86th in the Premiership, Danny Cipriani converting.
Hooley kicked his second penalty in the 23rd minute as Saints camped out in the Sale half but failed to break the defensive line.
Cipriani pushed a penalty attempt wide before the Sharks pushed up field again with Tom Arscott recovering an up-and-under and the home side put successive penalties into the corner.
Jones bundled over the line in the 33rd minute to score prompting a scuffle to break out with Hartley and Sam Tuitupou both receiving yellow cards.
A third try for Sale followed five minutes later with Brady latching onto a delightful grubber kick from Cipriani before the former Wasp converted.
The visitors again looked likely to score marching a maul into the shadow of the Sale posts' soon after the break but the blue wall held firm as the rain pelted down.
From a penalty Saints kicked to touch and continued hammering away at the Sharks' defence but to no avail.
When they appeared to have the home side at breaking point a forward pass from the impressive Hooley looked to have ruined the chance.
Gluttons for punishment Sale spilled the ball but then held up Burrell in the tackle before finally escaping their 22.
Northampton were soon back though keeping the pressure on and were rewarded with a penalty at the scrum.
Burrell, facing his former club, knocked-on and a penalty for Sale let them clear their lines once more.
Neither side held onto the ball for long as the game descended into aerial ping pong not allowing for any meaningful play to take place.
Saints then won a penalty for offside that they kicked to the corner with time ticking down on the clock.
They were, once more, rebuffed by another monumental defensive shift.
Northampton valiantly tried to go from deep but a knock-on ended the game.
Tries: Cueto, Jones, Brady
Cons: Cipriani 2
Yellow card: Tuitupou
Pens: Hooley 2
Yellow card: Hartley
Sale Sharks: 15 Tom Arscott, 14 Tom Brady, 13 Jonny Leota, 12 Sammy Tuitupou, 11 Mark Cueto, 10 Danny Cipriani, 9 Dwayne Peel, 8 James Gaskell 7 David Seymour, 6 Dan Braid, 5 Michael Paterson, 4 Jonathan Mills, 3 Vadim Cobilas, 2 Marc Jones, 1 Eifion Lewis-Roberts.
Replacements: 16 Aston Croall, 17 Ross Harrison, 18 Henry Thomas, 19 Andrei Ostrikov, 20 Mark Easter, 21 Will Cliff, 22 Nick Macleod, 23 Rob Miller.
Northampton: 15 Ben Foden, 14 Jamie Elliott, 13 James Wilson, 12 Luther Burrell, 11 George North, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Lee Dickson, 8 GJ van Velze, 7 Tom Wood, 6 Calum Clark, 5 Christian Day, 4 Courtney Lawes, 3 Salesi Ma'afu, 2 Dylan Hartley (captain), 1 Alex Waller.
Replacements: 16 Mike Haywood, 17 Gareth Denman, 18 Tom Mercey, 19 James Craig, 20 Phil Dowson, 21 Kahn Fotuali'i, 22 Will Hooley, 23 George Pisi.
Referee: Luke Pearce
Assistant Referees: Paul Burton, Kelvin Stewart
TMO: Keith Lewis
Gloucester Rugby 40 -33 Newcastle Falcons
A spirited fightback was not enough to prevent Newcastle Falcons' 11th straight Premiership defeat, as Gloucester Rugby secured maximum points in a high-scoring contest at Kingsholm.
Sione Kalamafoni's early try was cancelled out by Newcastle No.8 Chris York before Rob Cook, James Hudson, Mike Tindall and replacement Jonny May each scored to open up a hefty lead.
George McGuigan and Andy Saul went over is quick succession to keep the contest alive, before Alex Tait and Noah Cato added further tries to clinch a second bonus point for the visitors.
After a nervy start, Newcastle made their way deep into home territory 11 minutes into the contest and a powerful drive earned them a penalty – but Phil Godman missed the target.
Not deterred by the missed opportunity, they went back on the front foot and former Falcon Hudson soon found himself in the sin bin, penalised by referee Wayne Barnes for piling in at the side.
But it was Gloucester who took the initiative, first Dan Robson falling inches short of the line before Kalamafoni collected the ball to cross over and score on 18 minutes, Cook converting confidently.
With Hudson's return imminent Newcastle finally capitalised, Zach Kibirge and Cato involved in a neat build-up that saw Godman send a looping pass to York to score, Godman this time bisecting the posts.
But Gloucester re-took the lead minutes later, Henry Trinder feeding Cook who, with Charlie Sharples waiting on his outside, powered for the line before converting it himself.
Newcastle were soon handed a let-off as Martyn Thomas knocked on when well placed to score but Cook extended the lead with a second penalty five minutes before the break.
And the half ended in disappointing circumstances, as Kibirige was stretchered off on his Premiership debut, replaced by Lee Smith.
Cook struck an early penalty through the posts just three minutes after the break and Hudson, who joined Gloucester from Kingston Park in the summer, was on the scoresheet five minutes later.
The second row charged down a Mike Blair clearance and gobbled up the loose ball to dot down, with Cook once again on target with the extras.
Tindall added the all-important fourth for Gloucester, shortly after a free-flowing backs move ended in Cook falling short of his second – and the full-back's conversion flew wide.
England's Ben Morgan and May took to the field on the hour mark and the latter ran in a simple try with his first touch of the ball, the impressive Matt Kvesic involved in the build-up.
But a powerful run soon after the restart saw prop McGuigan crash his way over the line, before Saull bundled across the line – Joe Hodgson converted both.
Gloucester's capitulation continued, as Kvesic saw yellow nine minutes from time and Tait soon sprinted clear to grab an unlikely try bonus point.
And, after another Cook penalty, Cato added Newcastle's fifth try with the final act of the match, Hodgson's conversion securing a second bonus point.
Tries: Kalamafoni, Cook, Hudson, Tindall, May
Cons: Cook 3
Pens: Cook 3
Yellow cards: Hudson, Kvesic
Tries: York, McGuigan, Saull, Tait, Cato
Cons: Godman, Hodgson 3
Gloucester: 15 Rob Cook, 14 Charlie Sharples, 13 Henry Trinder, 12 Mike Tindall (captain), 11 Martyn Thomas, 10 Ryan Mills, 9 Dan Robson, 8 Gareth Evans, 7 Matt Kvesic, 6 Sione Kalamafoni, 5 James Hudson, 4 Elliott Stooke, 3 Shaun Knight, 2 Darren Dawidiuk, 1 Nick Wood
Replacements: 16 Huia Edmonds, 17 Dan Murphy, 18 Sila Puafisi, 19 Will James, 20 Ben Morgan, 21 Jimmy Cowan, 22 Freddie Burns, 23 Jonny May.
Newcastle: 15 Alex Tait, 14 Noah Cato, 13 Gonzalo Tiesi, 12 Danny Barnes, 11 Zach Kibirige, 10 Phil Godman, 9 Mike Blair, 8 Chris York, 7 Andy Saull, 6 Will Welch(captain), 5 Fraser McKenzie, 4 Scott MacLeod, 3 Oliver Tomaszczyk, 2 Scott Lawson, 1 Rob Vickers
Replacements: 16 George McGuigan, 17 Gary Strain, 18 Scott Wilson, 19 Sean Tomes, 20 Richard Mayhew, 21 Warren Fury, 22 Joel Hodgson, 23 Lee Smith
Referee: Wayne Barnes
Assistant Referees: Roger Baileff, Gordon Goodliffe
TMO: Trevor Fisher
Saracens 39 – 17 Harlequins
Saracens reclaimed top spot in the Premiership table after Chris Ashton's try set them on the way to a 39-17 bonus point defeat of Harlequins in front of a world record crowd at Wembley.
Without a win on their last three visits to the stadium, Sarries roared into a 17-3 lead courtesy of a length-of-the-field try from Ashton and George Kruis's score.
Quins hit back through a Karl Dickson score but Owen Farrell snaffled a poor pass from Nick Evans to put Sarries 27-10 at the break.
And while Sam Smith crossed while Steve Borthwick was in the sin bin at the start of the second half, Jacques Burger secured the bonus point and Marcelo Bosch added a fifth to the delight of most of the 83,889 strong crowd.
During a ferocious start, Saracens lost David Strettle to injury after he collided with Maurie Fa'asavalu, Duncan Taylor taking his place.
After a break in play Quins continued to attack, attempting to pick holes in the Sarries attack but when their ambition got the better of them Ashton pounced for the game's opening try.
Nick Easter received Karl Dickson's pass and in trying to help it on he could only divert it into the path of the lurking Ashton who took off from his own 22 to execute the Ash Splash under the Quins posts.
Farrell converted to put Saracens 7-0 up and while Evans narrowed the gap with a penalty on 20 minutes, the England fly-half slotted a penalty of his own to put Sarries 10-3 up.
Saracens extended their lead again before the half-hour with Kruis spotting a gap in the Quins defence, handing off Nick Kennedy and surging through the open space to score.
Farrell again obliged with the conversion but just as the game appeared to be getting away from Harlequins, they struck.
After Smith was taken to ground, Dickson picked the ball from the ruck and sold his opposite number Richard Wigglesworth a dummy and snuck through to dot down.
Evans's conversion left the score at 17-10 with 30 minutes played but the visitors then undid all their good work.
First Farrell slotted a simple penalty and then on the stroke of half-time, Evans threw a loose pass that the England fly-half intercepted almost on the tryline, leaving him with the simplest of tasks to dot down and then convert for a 27-10 half-time lead.
Burger escaped action for what appeared a late tackle early in the second half but captain Borthwick was not so fortunate soon after when he was sent to the sin bin.
Quins took immediate advantage of their extra man, driving towards the Saracens line before Dickson fed Smith who finished in the corner.
Evans converted to leave the score at 27-17 after three minutes of the second half and the next score was always going to be crucial.
In the end it was Saracens who struck the killer blow, Schalk Brits showcasing his abilities in the loose and Burger scrambling over.
Farrell missed the conversion but Sarries were now 32-17 ahead and Bosch extended the lead with just a minute to go, Charlie Hodgson converting to ensure they went back to the top of the table in style.
Tries: Ashton, Kruis, Farrell, Burger, Bosch
Cons: Farrell 3, Hodgson
Pens: Farrell 2
Yellow card: Borthwick
Tries: Dickson, Smith
Cons: Evans 2
Saracens: 15 Alex Goode, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Marcelo Bosch, 12 Brad Barritt, 11 David Strettle, 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Richard Wigglesworth, 8 Ernst Joubert, 7 Jacques Burger, 6 Jackson Wray, 5 George Kruis, 4 Steve Borthwick (captain), 3 James Johnston, 2 Schalk Brits, 1 Mako Vunipola.
Replacements: 16 Jamie George, 17 Richard Barrington, 18 Matt Stevens, 19 Mouritz Botha, 20 Kelly Brown, 21 Neil de Kock, 22 Charlie Hodgson, 23 Duncan Taylor.
Harlequins: 15 Ollie Lindsay-Hague, 14 Sam Smith, 13 Matt Hopper, 12 Tom Casson, 11 Ugo Monye, 10 Nick Evans, 9 Karl Dickson, 8 Nick Easter (captain), 7 Luke Wallace, 6 Maurie Fa'asavalu, 5 George Robson, 4 Nick Kennedy, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 2 Joe Gray, 1 Joe Marler.
Replacements: 16 Dave Ward, 17 Mark Lambert, 18 Paul Doran Jones, 19 Joe Trayfoot, 20 Tom Guest, 21 Sam Stuart, 22 Louis Grimoldby, 24 Jordan Turner-Hall.
Referee: JP Doyle
Assistant Referees: Roy Maybank, Andrew Pearce
TMO: Sean Davey
London Irish 23 – 44 Bath Rugby
England fly-half George Ford kicked 24 points as Bath Rugby consolidated their top-four place with a bonus point victory over London Irish at the Madejski Stadium.
Kyle Eastmond's try and three penalties from the boot of Ford gave Bath a 14-13 lead at half-time, the home side's points coming from Topsy Ojo's converted try and two James O'Connor penalties.
Anthony Watson, David Wilson and Matt Garvey crossed in the second half for the visitors with newly-capped England international Ford converting all three and adding another three penalties for his impressive total.
Shane Geraghty's penalty and Chris Hala'ufia late converted try were the Exiles' only second-half points as they slipped to their third straight Premiership defeat.
The home side started well and a penalty gave them the chance to open the on eight minutes but O'Connor missed the target.
The hosts continued to press, despite Matt Parr's sin-binning for pulling back Semesa Rokoduguni as the winger looked to chase a loose ball, and Ojo was denied a try on 16 minutes due to a forward pass in the build-up.
Bath could not take advantage of their extra man with Ford's 20th minute penalty their only points from the period which were cancelled out by O'Connor.
Ford added another before Ojo burrowed over on 32 minutes for the first try of the game, and his first since the final game of last season, after Geraghty was held up just short of the line.
But Bath replied immediately with a try of their own with rugby league convert Eastmond outsprinting the London Irish defence to finish in the corner after receiving Nick Abendanon's pass.
O'Connor and Ford again exchanged penalties as Bath held a 14-13 advantage at half-time.
Ford extended the lead to seven points with two penalties early in the second half and he almost played in Watson with a delicate cross-field kick but the winger was snaffled by O'Connor.
Geraghty added a penalty for the home side on 56 minutes but former London Irish flyer Watson scored a second try for the visitors. Abendanon ran from deep inside his own half but appeared to cross with Ollie Devoto in midfield before off-loading for Watson to go over.
Referee Greg Garner consulted with his TMO who ruled there had been no infringement, giving the 20-year-old his fourth try of the season. Ford converted before adding another penalty.
Wilson wrapped up the victory 11 minutes from time when he went over under the posts for his first try of the season.
Replacement Hala'ufia grabbed a late consolation for the hosts before Garvey secured the bonus point in the final minute.
For London Irish:
Tries: Ojo, Hala'ufia
Cons: O'Connor, Humphreys
Pens: O'Connor 2, Geraghty
Yellow cards: Parr, Skivington
Tries: Eastmond, Watson, Wilson, Garvey
Cons: Ford 3
Pens: Ford 6
London Irish: 15 James O'Connor, 14 Topsy Ojo, 13 Fergus Mulchrone, 12 Eamonn Sheridan, 11 Marland Yarde, 10 Shane Geraghty, 9 Darren Allinson, 8 Ofisa Treviranus, 7 Blair Cowan, 6 Kieran Low, 5 Nic Rouse, 4 George Skivington (captain), 3 Jamie Hagan, 2 David Paice, 1 Matt Parr
Replacements: 16 Jimmy Stevens, 17 John Yapp, 18 Leo Halavatau, 19 Jebb Sinclair, 20 Chris Hala'ufia, 21 Andrew Fenby, 22 Ian Humphreys, 23 Ed Hoadley
Bath: 15 Nick Abendanon, 14 Anthony Watson, 13 Ollie Devoto, 12 Kyle Eastmond, 11 Semesa Rokoduguni, 10 George Ford, 9 Peter Stringer, 8 Leroy Houston, 7 Francois Louw, 6 Matt Garvey, 5 Dave Attwood, 4 Stuart Hooper (captain), 3 David Wilson, 2 Ross Batty, 1 Paul James
Replacements: 16 Tom Dunn, 17 Nathan Catt, 18 Juan Pablo Orlandi, 19 Dominic Day, 20 Guy Mercer, 21 Micky Young, 22 Gavin Henson, 23 Horacio Agulla
Referee: Gregory Garner
Assistant Referees: Nigel Carrick, Peter Huckle
TMO: David Sainsbury