After an enforced break of 159 days, the Gallagher Premiership returned this weekend. The action kicked off on Friday evening at the Stoop when second placed Sale Sharks travelled to face Harlequins.
Quins and Sharks get the show on the road
On a wet evening it was Sharks who found themselves in penalty trouble early on with eight conceded in 20 minutes. Quins moved to a 6-0 lead which they increased to 9-0 at the break.
Sale came out for the second half and immediately looked a different side. Within four minutes of the restart Byron McGuigan went over in the corner. The conversion from Rob du Preez was successful with the gap closed to only two points.
However, Sale shot themselves in the foot when Simon Hammersley picked up a yellow card. Quins capitalised on the one-man advantage following a line out driving maul when Scott Baldwin crashed over.
Despite AL McGinty slotting over a late penalty it was Harlequins who held on for a 16-10 victory. Both half backs for Harlequins Marcus Smith and Martin Landajo were in outstanding form on the night.
Chiefs continue where they left off
Most pundits’ champions elect Exeter Chiefs continued where they left off before the break with a 26-13 win over Leicester.
Sandy Park witnessed Chiefs pick up another bonus point win to maintain their position at the top of the table. Stuart Hogg helped Exeter to a 12-6 lead at half time before Dave Ewers had given Chiefs an early lead.
Directly after the restart Luke Cowan-Dickie scrambled over to increase the hosts advantage. Chiefs were awarded a penalty try in the 52nd minute to put them on top.
Leicester were reduced to 14 men when Jordan Taufa was sent to the sin bin for infringing at the breakdown. Tigers showed plenty of spirit and rewarded when they grabbed a penalty try. But it was to late as Chiefs ran out comfortable winners by 26-13.
Bears keep the pressure on the top two
Bristol Bears kept up their challenge with the top two by completing a 16-12 victory over Saracens. Alex Goode was Sarries star player on the day by scoring all his sides 12 points.
Bears were indebted to the boot of Callum Sheedy who also kicked three penalty kicks. The turning point of a close encounter happened in the 76th minute when Bristol were awarded a penalty try. Fijian Semi Radradra played a big part in the move that was enough to see them over the line.
Gloucester thrashed Worcester Warriors 44-15 at Sixways on Saturday on their resumption after the break. Despite Warriors scoring after two minutes through Ted Hill’s try Gloucester responded in emphatic fashion.
Three tries in 19 minutes from Jack Singleton, and a brace from Ollie Thorley put the visitors in control. Rees Zammit went over for the bonus point try as there seemed no way back for Warriors.
Worcester conceded a fifth when Jason Woodward raced in from half way. There was scant consolation for the home side when Scott Van Breda crossed in the 71st minute.
Bath move into the play-off positions
Bath moved up to fourth in the table after a 34-17 win over London Irish at the Rec on Saturday. Ben Spencer showed his international class with a man of the match award performance.
The former Sarries player needed only five minutes into his debut to get on the scoresheet with a try. A brace from Tom Dunn saw Bath roar into a 17-0 lead. Curtis Rhona relied for the exiles are going over just before the break.
The visitors staged a late fightback and at one time trailed by just seven points. But normal service was resumed with two Rhys Priestalnd’s penalties and tries from Jonathan Joseph and Jack Walker.
London Irish however did have the last word when hooker Matt Cornish went over from a driving maul.
Wasps defeated Northampton Saints 34-21 at Franklin Gardens in the only game played on Sunday. The win lifted Wasps into the top four for the first time this season.
Winger Josh Bassett scored two tries for Wasps to continue their impressive form of late with their fourth straight win. Flanker Jack Willis got another try with Prop Ben Harris going over for the try bonus point win.
Saints replied with tries from scrum half Alex Mitchell and lock David Ribbans in Northampton’s fourth straight home defeat.
After Round 14 it is Exeter who lead the way with an eight-point gap over Bristol. Sale are a further point behind with seven points separating Wasps in fourth and Gloucester eighth.