Tigers maul Exeter for rare win
PREMIERSHIP WRAP: Leicester boss Steve Borthwick hailed George Ford after the England flyhalf steered the Tigers to their first victory over Exeter in four years during a season-opening 34-19 win at Welford Road on Saturday.
Ford missed the British and Irish Lions tour of South Africa and was not considered for England’s pre-season internationals against the United States and Canada by Red Rose boss Eddie Jones in order to recover fully from a niggling calf problem.
The rest appeared to have done the 28-year-old good as Ford expertly guided the Tigers to a commanding victory that suggests he will still be vying with Marcus Smith and Owen Farrell for the England No 10 shirt.
“George Ford for me controlled that game for large parts of it. It was great to see him back fit and performing as well as that,” Borthwick said.
“You can see by the way he played the sharpness he had in his game. He’s only going to get better and better. I watch him on the training field and he’s sharp. He controlled that game brilliantly.”
Leicester secured a bonus-point with a fifth try that delighted the home fans at Welford Road but former England captain Borthwick was the first to acknowledge Exeter, with several stars resting up after their international exertions, were not at full strength.
“We’re pleased with the start but understand that Exeter were missing an awful lot of players,” he said.
Exeter boss Rob Baxter was left frustrated by his side’s inability to make the most of their close-range opportunities.
“Without breaking it down into every little mistake we made, the tale of the game was that we had enough five-metre pressure and opportunity to score more points than we did,” he said.
Northampton launched their campaign with a 34-20 bonus-point win over Gloucester.
However, Saints boss Chris Boyd was far from satisfied despite his side scoring tries through George Furbank, Nick Auterac, Tom Wood and James Grayson, with the latter adding two penalties and three conversions.
“Yes it’s great to be back with a noisy crowd and five points in the bag, but we were patchy and rusty,” said Boyd. “It’s not a performance to be proud of as we are capable of far better.”
Meanwhile, Worcester coach Jonathan Thomas was delighted by an “exceptional” performance from new recruit Willi Heinz that saw the England scrum-half score a try in a 36-24 win over London Irish.
The 34-year-old Heinz also created a bonus-point score for Worcester No 8 Matt Kvesic and Thomas said: “I thought Willi was exceptional.
“He is a really experienced player, with his Crusaders background in New Zealand and international rugby. His personality is one that he wants to help people grow. He is invaluable to us as a player and as a person.”
Saturday’s late kick-off match produced a thrilling finish as Sale survived a dramatic Bath fightback and a last-minute penalty attempt in a 20-19 home win.
Replacement back Orlando Bailey, on for former Sale star Danny Cipriani early in the second half, just failed to cap a remarkable Bath recovery.
The visitors led after being 17-0 down only for Kieran Wilkinson to put Sale back in front before a long-range miss from Bailey with the final play of the game.
Saturday scores and scorers
Leicester 34 Exeter 19
For Leicester Tigers
Tries: Steward, Potter, Scott, Dolly 2
Cons: Ford 3
For Exeter Chiefs
Tries: Armand, Hidalgo-Clyne, Penalty try
Cons: Skinner, penalty try does not require a conversion
Leicester Tigers: 15 Freddie Steward, 14 Harry Potter, 13 Matt Scott, 12 Dan Kelly, 11 Nemani Nadolo, 10 George Ford, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Hanro Liebenberg, 7 Tommy Reffell, 6 George Martin, 5 Calum Green, 4 Harry Wells, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Nic Dolly, 1 Ellis Genge (captain).
Replacements: 16 Tom Cowan-Dickie, 17 Francois van Wyk, 18 Nephi Leatigaga, 19 Eli Snyman, 20 Ollie Chessum, 21 Jack van Poortvliet, 22 Freddie Burns, 23 Guy Porter.
Exeter Chiefs: 15 Josh Hodge, 14 Jack Nowell, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Ollie Devoto, 11 Tom O’Flaherty, 10 Joe Simmonds, 9 Jack Maunder, 8 Rus Tuima, 7 Don Armand, 6 Jannes Kirsten, 5 Sean Lonsdale, 4 Will Witty, 3 Harry Williams, 2 Jack Innard, 1 Alec Hepburn.
Replacements: 16 Jack Yeandle, 17 Ben Moon, 18 Sam Nixon, 19 Ryan McCauley, 20 Christ Tshiunza, 21 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, 22 Harvey Skinner, 23 Tom Hendrickson.
Referee: Ian Tempest
Assistant referees: Greg Macdonald, Phil Watters
TMO: Andrew Jackson
Northampton 34 Gloucester 20
For Northampton Saints
Tries: Furbank, Grayson, Auterac, Wood
Cons: Grayson 3, Furbank
Pens: Grayson 2
Tries: Thorley, Reid, May
Northampton Saints: 15 George Furbank, 14 Matt Proctor, 13 Fraser Dingwall, 12 Rory Hutchinson, 11 Tom Collins, 10 James Grayson, 9 Alex Mitchell, 8 Teimana Harrison, 7 Lewis Ludlam (captain), 6 Tom Wood, 5 Alex Moon, 4 David Ribbans, 3 Ehren Painter, 2 James Fish, 1 Alex Waller.
Replacements: 16 Mikey Haywood, 17 Nick Auterac, 18 Paul Hill, 19 Api Ratuniyarawa, 20 Juarno Augustus, 21 Connor Tupai, 22 Ahsee Tuala, 23 Alex Coles.
Gloucester: 15 Kyle Moyle, 14 Jonny May, 13 Tom Seabrook, 12 Billy Twelvetrees, 11 Ollie Thorley, 10 Lloyd Evans, 9 Ben Meehan, 8 Jack Clement, 7 Lewis Ludlow (captain), 6 Jordy Reid, 5 Andrew Davidson, 4 Ben Morgan, 3 Fraser Balmain, 2 Jack Singleton, 1 Harry Elrington.
Replacements: 16 Henry Walker, 17 Jamal Ford-Robinson, 18 Kirill Gotovtsev, 19 Freddie Clarke, 20 Ruan Ackermann, 21 Stephen Varney, 22 Adam Hastings, 23 Giorgi Kveseladze.
Referee: Karl Dickson
Assistant referees: Mike Hudson, George Selwood
TMO: Stuart Terheege
Sale 20 Bath 19
Tries: Van der Merwe, McGuigan
Cons: Du Preez 2
Pens: Du Preez, Wilkinson
Pen: Cipriani 2, Bailey 2
Sale Sharks: 15 Simon Hammersley, 14 Byron McGuigan, 13 Sam James, 12 Manu Tuilagi, 11 Marland Yarde, 10 Rob du Preez, 9 Raffi Quirke, 8 Jono Ross (captain), 7 Ben Curry, 6 Cameron Nield, 5 JP du Preez, 4 Cobus Wiese, 3 Nick Schonert, 2 Armand van der Merwe, 1 Bevan Rodd.
Replacements: 16 Tommy Taylor, 17 Ross Harrison, 18 Cal Ford, 19 Rouban Birch, 20 Sam Dugdale, 21 Will Cliff, 22 Kieran Wilkinson, 23 Rohan Janse van Rensburg.
Bath: 15 Tom de Glanville, 14 Semesa Rokoduguni, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Max Ojomoh, 11 Will Muir, 10 Danny Cipriani, 9 Ben Spencer, 8 Josh Bayliss, 7 Sam Underhill, 6 Miles Reid, 5 Charlie Ewels (captain), 4, Mike Williams, 3 Johannes Jonker, 2 Tom Dunn, 1 Beno Obano.
Replacements: 16 Jacques du Toit, 17 Juan Schoeman, 18 D’Arcy Rae, 19 Tom Ellis, 20 Jaco Coetzee, 21 Ollie Fox, 22 Orlando Bailey, 23 Max Clark.
Referee: Christophe Ridley
Assistant referees: Hamish Smales, Wayne Falla
TMO: Jack Makepeace
Worcester 36 London Irish 24
For Worcester Warriors
Tries: Lewis, Heinz, Nanai, Kvesic, Humphreys
Cons: Williams 4
For London Irish
Tries: Hassell-Collins, Tuisue, Hoskins 2
Cons: Jackson 2
Worcester Warriors: 15 Melani Nanai, 14 Noah Heward, 13 Ollie Lawrence, 12 Francois Venter, 11 Perry Humphreys, 10 Owen Williams, 9 Willi Heinz (co-captain), 8 Matt Kvesic, 7 Sam Lewis, 6 Ted Hill (co-captain), 5 Justin Clegg, 4 Kyle Hatherell, 3 Christian Judge, 2 Scott Baldwin, 1 Ethan Waller.
Replacements: 16 Niall Annett, 17 Mark Thomas, 18 Jack Owlett, 19 Matt Garvey, 20 Graham Kitchener, 21 Will Chudley, 22 Jamie Shillcock, 23 Oli Morris.
London Irish: 15 Tom Parton, 14 Kyle Rowe, 13 Curtis Rona, 12 Benhard van Rensburg, 11 Ollie Hassell-Collins, 10 Paddy Jackson, 9 Ben White, 8 Albert Tuisue, 7 Ben Donnell, 6 Matt Rogerson (captain), 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Rob Simmons, 3 Marcel van der Merwe, 2 Agustin Creevy, 1 Will Goodrick-Clarke.
Replacements: 16 Matt Cornish, 17 Allan Dell, 18 Ollie Hoskins, 19 George Nott, 20 Seán O’Brien, 21 Hugh O’Sullivan, 22 Matt Williams, 23 James Stokes.
Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys
Assistant referees: Anthony Woodthorpe, Dean Richards
TMO: Rowan Kitt
Newcastle v Harlequins (14.00 GMT)