Six-try Exeter nil Sale, Leicester and Harlequins prevail
PREMIERSHIP WRAP: Leicester flyhalf Jamie Shillcock returned to haunt former side Bath as he scored the winning penalty with the last kick of the game as the Tigers edged a 25-24 Premiership win to move off the bottom of the table.
It seemed that his opposite number Finn Russell had snatched victory with a penalty at the other end but Bath were penalised at a scrum from the restart and Shillcock nervelessly found the target from near the touchline as the rain teemed down at the Recreation Ground.
It earned Shillcock – who signed a short-term deal with Bath in 2022 – a match tally of 20 points, including a conversion of Tommy Reffell’s 67th-minute try.
Bath, who had come into the game as early Premiership leaders, celebrated tries from left wing Will Muir and prop Thomas du Toit, plus four penalties and a conversion from Russell.
The predicted heavy rain arrived just before kick-off, making for difficult conditions but Shillcock had no problem knocking over his first penalty after just three minutes.
It was no surprise that both sides resorted to high kicks to test each other’s fielding skills and it was aerial tennis for the first 15 minutes.
Bath supporters looked to Russell to provide some spark in the gloom and the Scotland international obliged first with a clever grubber into the visitors’ 22. His follow-up tackle then forced a knock-on by Mike Brown to earn a scrum.
Skipper Ben Spencer fed Russell, who stabbed a kick-pass to the left wing for Will Muir for a try in the corner but its creator could not add the conversion.
Despite exerting considerable pressure on the Tigers’ line-out, Bath struggled to impose themselves on the game, mainly because of their indiscipline.
Having wrested back possession in the loose, a neck roll at a ruck by Spencer handed Shillcock another penalty opportunity which he struck sweetly from fully 50 metres for a 5-6 lead.
When Leicester were at their most threatening, it was Shillcock’s turn to look sheepish as he fumbled a pass when the home defence was a momentarily stretched.
When Bath were penalised again, Shillcock gratefully kicked his side further ahead, only for Russell to chop the lead back to one point again just before the interval.
The pair exchanged penalties again just after the break for 11-12 but Bath turned up the heat to such a degree that Leicester lock Harry Wells was shown a yellow card after 54 minutes for cynical play close to the try-line.
Bath spurned the penalty and Du Toit eventually drove over the line, Russell adding the conversion to put the home side in front for the first time.
Spencer might have added another when he was quickest to react to a deflected kick but Reffell had the travelling support on their feet when he touched down from a line-out catch-and-drive.
Shillcock converted but Russell put Bath 21-19 ahead after the home side laid siege to the visitors’ line. Again Bath blinked, conceding another penalty which Shillcock steered between the posts from 48 metres.
Russell – blocked illegally when chasing his own chip ahead – restored Bath’s lead with less than a minute left but Shillcock had the last word after Jaco Coetzee spilled the restart and the hosts were penalised at the scrum.
Exeter showed their 11-try thrashing of defending Premiership champions Saracens on the opening day of the campaign was no fluke as they managed an equally emphatic 43-0 victory over last season’s beaten finalists Sale.
Despite losing a host of internationals during the summer, Exeter’s new young guard once again showed they are going to be a force to be reckoned with.
Sale went into the game having won their first two matches of the season, but they were strangely off colour as an error-strewn display saw them suffer their biggest ever defeat to the Devon side.
Exeter got off to a dream start with a try inside the first two minutes. An initial surge by hooker Dan Frost earned a penalty, which was quickly taken, and England Under-20 number eight Greg Fisilau finished off on the blindside, with captain for the day Henry Slade slotting a superb conversion.
The England centre added a penalty soon after to put the Chiefs into double figures.
Sale had the wind behind their backs in the first half, but it was the Chiefs who continued to dominate territory, and they notched a second try just before the midway point of the half, with a catch-and-drive effort from Frost, after Chiefs did well to splinter Sale’s maul defence, and it was improved by Slade.
Young fullback Tom Wyatt was proving rock solid under the high ball for Exeter, while their scrum was having much the better of the Sale eight.
The Sharks thought they had got a foothold in the game when Cobus Wiese drove over in the 27th minute, but he was adjudged by excellent debutant referee Joe James to have been held up, while Tom O’Flaherty knocked on soon after when trying to ground the ball after a handling mistake close to his own line by Fisilau.
Exeter made the most of that double reprieve by securing the try-scoring bonus point before half-time.
Tight-head prop Josh Iosefa-Scott finished off another driving maul in the corner, and then Slade latched on to a wayward Sale pass to send former Wasps wing Immanuel Feyi-Waboso racing over beneath the posts, with Slade adding the conversion for an incredible 29-0 interval advantage.
Both sides struggled to string passages of play together in the wet conditions in the second half.
The Chiefs put the icing on the cake when an excellent run by impressive second row Lewis Pearson saw him offload to replacement scrum-half Niall Armstrong to run in try number five, with Slade adding the kick for a personal 11-point haul, and their dominant scrum rounded it off with a penalty try as Exeter completed their first Premiership shutout since 2014.
Jarrod Evans kicked a 79th-minute penalty from 45 metres to give Harlequins a dramatic late Premiership victory over Bristol at a rain-sodden Ashton Gate.
A strong second-half performance from Bristol’s pack had overturned an early 13-0 deficit heading into the closing stages.
However, when Quins captain Alex Dombrant was tackled high by Jake Heenan, the Bristol replacement was shown a yellow card and Evans held his nerve to secure the win.
All scores and scorers
Gloucester 3-24 Saracens
Tries: Willis 2, Lewington
Cons: Lozowski 3
Gloucester: 15 Jake Morris, 14 Alex Hearle, 13 Chris Harris, 12 Seb Atkinson, 11 Ollie Thorley, 10 George Barton, 9 Stephen Varney, 8 Zach Mercer, 7 Lewis Ludlow, 6 Albert Tuisue, 5. Freddie Thomas, 4 Freddie Clarke, 3 Kirill Gotovtsev, 2 George McGuigan, 1 Jamal Ford-Robinson
Replacements: 16 Jack Singleton, 17 Harry Elrington, 18 Ciaran Knight, 19 Cam Jordan, 20 Jack Clement, 21 Charlie Chapman, 22 Max Llewellyn, 23 Josh Hathaway
Saracens: 15 Alex Goode, 14 Sean Maitland, 13 Alex Lozowski, 12 Nick Tompkins, 11 Alex Lewington, 10 Manu Vunipola, 9 Aled Davies, 8 Tom Willis, 7 Andy Christie, 6 Nick Isiekwe, 5 Hugh Tizard, 4 Callum Hunter-Hill, 3 Christian Judge, 2 James Hadfield, 1 Mako Vunipola (captain).
Replacements: 16 Sam Crean, 17 Eroni Mawi, 18 Alec Clarey, 19 Ollie Stonham, 20 Toby Knight, 21 Ivan van Zyl, 22 Olly Hartley, 23 Tom Parton
Referee: Adam Leal
Leicester Tigers 25-24 Bath
Tries: Muir, Dunn
Pens: Russell 4
Pens: Shillcock 6
Bath: 15 Matt Gallagher, 14 Joe Cokanasiga, 13 Max Ojomoh, 12 Cameron Redpath, 11 Will Muir, 10 Finn Russell, 9 Ben Spencer (captain), 8 Alfie Barbeary, 7 Miles Reid, 6 Fergus Lee-Warner, 5 Charlie Ewels, 4 Josh McNally, 3 Thomas du Toit, 2 Tom Dunn, 1 Beno Obano,
Replacements: 16 Niall Annett, 17 Juan Schoeman, 18 Johannes Jonker, 19 Ewan Richards, 20 Jaco Coetzee, 21 Louis Schreuder, 22 Orlando Bailey, 23 Chris Cloete
Leicester Tigers: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Josh Bassett, 13 Guy Porter, 12 Dan Kelly, 11 Ollie Hassell-Collins, 10 Jamie Shillcock, 9 Tom Whiteley, 1 James Cronin, 2 Charlie Clare, 3 Joe Heyes, 4 Cameron Henderson, 5 Harry Wells, 6 Hanro Liebenberg (captain), 7 Tommy Reffell, 8 Matt Rogerson
Replacements: 16 Nic Dolly, 17 Francois van Wyk, 18 Will Hurd, 19 Sam Carter, 20 Emeka Ilione, 21 Joe Powell, 22 Charlie Atkinson, 23 Phil Cokanasiga
Referee: Jack Makepeace
Exeter 43-0 Sale
Tries: Fisilau, Frost, Iosefa-Scott, Feyi-Waboso, Armstrong
Cons: Slade 4
Exeter: 15 Tommy Wyatt, 14 Immanuel Feyi-Waboso, 13 Henry Slade (captain), 12 Tom Hendrickson, 11 Ben Hammersley, 10 Harvey Skinner, 9 Tom Cairns; 8 Greg Fisilau, 7 Jacques Vermeulen, 6 Ethan Roots, 5 Lewis Pearson, 4 Rusi Tuima, 3 Josh Iosefa-Scott, 2 Dan Frost, 1 Nika Abuladze,
Replacements: 16 Jack Yeandle, 17 Scott Sio, 18 Ehren Painter, 19 Dafydd Jenkins, 20 Christ Tshiunza, 21 Niall Armstrong, 22 Will Haydon-Wood, 23 Joe Hawkins
Sale Sharks: 15 Tom O’Flaherty, 14 Tom Roebuck, 13 Sam James, 12 Sam Bedlow, 11 Arron Reed, 10 Rob du Preez (captain), 9 Gus Warr; 8 Dan du Preez, 7 Ernst van Rhyn, 6 Rouban Birch, 5 Jonny Hill, 4 Cobus Wiese, 3 Nick Schonert, 2 Nathan Langdon, 1 Ross Harrison,
Replacements: 16 Harry Thompson, 17 Si McIntyre, 18 James Harper, 19 Josh Beaumont, 20 Ben Bamber, 21 Nye Thomas, 22 Tom Curtis, 23 Tom Ellis.
Referee: Joe James
Harlequins 23-21 Bristol
Tries: Vakatawa, Thacker
Pens: Sheedy 3
Tries: Hammond 2
Cons: Evans 2
Pens: Evans 3
Bristol: 15 Rich Lane, 14 Noah Heward, 13 Virimi Vakatawa, 12 Benhard Janse van Rensburg, 11 Gabriel Ibitoye, 10 Callum Sheedy, 9 Harry Randall, 8 Magnus Bradbury, 7 Dan Thomas, 6 Fitz Harding, 5 Joe Batley, 4 James Dun, 3 Max Lahiff, 2 Harry Thacker, 1 Jake Woolmore
Replacements: 16 Will Capon, 17 Sam Grahamslaw, 18 George Kloska, 19 Josh Caulfield, 20 Jake Heenan, 21 Kieran Marmion, 22 James Williams, 23 Piers O’Conor
Harlequins: 15. Nick David, 14. Tyrone Green, 13. Oscar Beard, 12. Lennox Anyanwu, 11. Louis Lynagh, 10. Jarrod Evans, 9. Will Porter, 8. Alex Dombrandt, 7. Will Evans, 6. Jack Kenningham, 5. George Hammond, 4. Joe Launchbury, 3. Will Collier, 2. Sam Riley, 1. Fin Baxter
Replacements: 16. Nathan Jibulu, 17. Jordan Els, 18. Simon Kerrod, 19. Dino Lamb, 20. James Chisholm, 21. Max Green, 22. Will Edwards, 23. Bryn Bradley
Referee: Anthony Woodthorpe
Newcastle Falcons 14-16 Northampton Saints
For Newcastle Falcons:
Pens: Connon 3
For Northampton Saints:
Pens: Smith 3
Newcastle Falcons: 15 Elliott Obatoyinbo, 14 Adam Radwan, 13 Tom Penny, 12 Rory Jennings, 11 Iwan Stephens, 10 Brett Connon, 9 Sam Stuart; 8 Callum Chick (captain), 7 Guy Pepper, 6 Sam Cross, 5 Sebastian de Chaves, 4 Philip van der Walt, 3 Mark Tampin, 2 Jamie Blamire, 1 Adam Brocklebank
Replacements: 16 Bryan Byrne, 17 Phil Brantingham, 18 Murray McCallum, 19 John Hawkins, 20 Kiran McDonald, 21 Hugh O’Sullivan, 22 Freddie Lockwood, 23 Matias Orlando.
Northampton Saints: 15 George Furbank (captain), 14 Tom Seabrook, 13 Fraser Dingwall, 12 Rory Hutchinson, 11 George Hendy, 10 Fin Smith, 9 Tom James, 8 Sam Graham, 7 Tom Pearson, 6 Angus Scott-Young, 5 Alex Coles, 4 Chunya Munga, 3 Trevor Davison, 2 Curtis Langdon, 1 Ethan Waller
Replacements: 16 Tom Cruse, 17 Alex Waller, 18 Elliot Millar Mills, 19 Tom Lockett, 20 Alex Moon, 21 Archie McParland, 22 James Grayson, 23 Tom Litchfield
Referee: Hamish Smales
Additional source @RugbyPass