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Aviva Premiership: Gloucester, Saints, Wasps win

Update on Aviva Premiership action for Gloucester, Saints, Wasps, Quins, Leicester, Warriors

There were three Premiership games on Saturday with the Leicester versus Northampton derby standing out. The Northampton Saints surprised local arch rivals Leicester Tigers in the East Midlands Derby. Gloucester and Wasps also won their clashes.

Gloucester 37-9 Harlequins

Three late tries in the last 10 minutes secured the bonus-point for Glouster with Ruan Ackermann delivering the crucial fourth score. Stand in scrum-half Callum Braley crossed the whitewash in only six minutes after a Billy Twelvetrees break sent him in; the outside centre then converted the early try. Marcus Smith and Twelvetrees kicked 3 penalties apiece each the first-half concluded to make it 16-9. The clash ended 10 minutes before the final whistle when Jason Woodward scored in the corner. Mark Atkinson produced an excellent pass to Henry Trinder and sent Woodward over with Twelvetrees kicking the conversion. Flanker Jake Polledri added to the scoreline 3 minutes later when Gloucester turned the ball over and cut through a disorganized defense. The Cherry & Whites had about 5 minutes to score their 4th and with their final assault set-up a rolling maul. South African replacement Ackermann emerged as the scorer.

Prior to their dominant win against Harlequins on Saturday, Gloucester won 7 of their first 10 matches in Aviva Premiership Rugby this season but since have won only 3 more, at home to Sale and Leicester and away at London Irish. Gloucester’s 2 home defeats in any competition this season were to Pau in the 6th round of the European Challenge Cup and to Newcastle in the 17th round of Premiership Rugby. Harlequins have only picked up 4 league points from their last 6 Aviva Premiership Rugby encounters, all from a 20-5 victory at home to Bath on March 4th. The Londoners have been defeated in their last 9 away games in all tournaments since beating Saracens by a single point in the 1st round of the Anglo-Welsh Cup - their only away win in Premiership Rugby this season was at Wasps in round three. Harlequins have lost only one of their last seven fixtures with Gloucester in Premiership Rugby: 6-28 at Kingsholm in February 2016. Last week Harlequins announced director of rugby John Kingston was leaving.

Jason Woodward returned for Gloucester having missed out at Exeter as the Cherry and Whites made half a dozen changes to their starting line-up for the visit of Harlequins. Woodward took his usual spot at full-back in one of four changes to the backline. Henry Trinder, made his 100th Premiership appearance, moving to the left wing instead of Tom Marshall. Billy Twelvetrees came into the midfield at outside center. Callum Braley started at scrum-half and Billy Burns at fly-half in a half-back partnership, with Willi Heinz and Owen Williams out due to injury. Jeremy Thrush gets the nod to partner Ed Slater in the second-row as the latter took over the captaincy. Jake Polledri started in the back-row in place of Ruan Ackermann, who started on the bench. Quins come to Kingsholm off the back of a massive defeat at home to London Irish last weekend and subsequently announced the departure of director of rugby John Kingston at the end of the season. It’s been a tough season for Gloucester, and head coach Johan Ackermann is wary of a potentially wounded side.

“It has been a tough season for them, but our season is also not where we want it to be and obviously, after Sunday, we were all disappointed at the result. It’s going to be a tough old game,” he said. “To be fair to them, they’re an unknown factor, we don’t know what team they pick or how they will turn up. There’s a lot to play for, we can’t underestimate them but, first of all, we have to get our own performance right. We must come out of the blocks and perform. If we can start well and put them under pressure, then the cracks might start to appear. But if we give them a lifeline, give them some soft tries etc, then it will give them some camaraderie and belief. They still have a lot to play for with things like England touring places up for grabs and we can’t discount them. They’re a team who have achieved great heights and who will always be competitive.”

For Harlequins, there were 5 changes to the starting XV from last week's encounter with London Irish. In the backs, Jamie Roberts came in to partner Joe Marchant in the centers as Francis Saili missed out with a shoulder injury. Alofa started, to form the back three alongside Mike Brown and Charlie Walker. In the forwards, there are three changes, with Joe Gray starting at hooker. There is a brand new second row including Harlequins captain James Horwill. Merrick started for the first time since January following his recovery from injury.

Scorers

Gloucester:
Tries: Braley, Woodward, Polledri, Ackermann
Cons: Twelvetrees 4
Pens: Twelvetrees 3

Quins:
Pens: Smith 3

Squads

Gloucester
15 Jason Woodward, 14 Charlie Sharples, 13 Billy Twelvetrees, 12 Mark Atkinson, 11 Henry Trinder, 10 Billy Burns, 9 Callum Braley, 8 Ben Morgan, 7 Lewis Ludlow, 6 Jake Polledri, 5 Jeremy Thrush, 4 Ed Slater (c), 3 John Afoa, 2 James Hanson, 1 Josh Hohneck. Subs: 16 Motu Matu’u, 17 Paddy McAllister, 18 Fraser Balmain, 19 Tom Savage, 20 Freddie Clarke, 21 Ruan Ackermann, 22 Ben Vellacott, 23 Tom Hudson

Harlequins
15 Mike Brown, 14 Charlie Walker, 13 Joe Marchant, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 Alofa Alofa, 10 Marcus Smith, 9 Danny Care, 8 Mat Luamanu, 7 Chris Robshaw, 6 Jack Clifford, 5 James Horwill (c), 4 George Merrick, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 2 Joe Gray, 1 Joe Marler Subs: 16 Elia Elia, 17 Mark Lambert, 18 Will Collier, 19 Stan South, 20 Luke Wallace, 21 Dave Lewis, 22 James Lang, 23 Gabriel Ibitoye

Referee: Luke Pearce

Leicester Tigers 21-27 Northampton Saints

Leicester Tigers made 2 changes to the starting line-up for Saturday’s Leicester Derby clash with Northampton Saints at Welford Road as Tom Youngs and Matt Smith returned to the side. Team captain Youngs exchanged places with Tatafu Polota-Nau who started with the subs, while Smith came into midfield following injury to Mathew Tait during last week’s win over Bath at Twickenham Stadium. The only other changes after a 5th successive league win last week are on the bench with Ben Youngs and Jonah Holmes after their recovery from injury and for George Worth. Sam Harrison and Graham Kitchener made their 150th appearance for the club and a 50th game for Leicester for back-rower Luke Hamilton.

Tigers head coach Matt O’Connor talked about his side. “We’re getting some bodies back from injury which allows us to pick from a position of strength for the run-in and that is going to be important in such a tight competition,” said O’Connor. “We’ve been on a decent run of results and had a good win at Twickenham last week but it means nothing if we don’t back it up against a very committed Northampton side.” Australian center Rob Horne led out Northampton for the very first time. Interim head coach Alan Dickens and technical coaching consultant Alan Gaffney welcomed 2 key players back onto the bench from injury, as well as making five changes to the line-up that started last time out against Saracens. Ben Foden returned to the starting XV, with Wales international George North on the opposite wing and Ahsee Tuala at full-back to complete the back three. Skipper Horne partnered Piers Francis in the centres with Stephen Myler and scrum-half Cobus Reinach. Mikey Haywood returned from injury at hooker with props Campese Ma’afu and Paul Hill. The Saints brought back front-rower Alex Waller to the squad started on the bench. James Craig replaced the injured Christian Day in Northampton’s second row, partnering Api Ratuniyarawa. Mitch Eadie came into the starting line-up with Teimana Harrison shifting to flanker with David Ribbans missing out through injury.

“There’s nothing bigger than a local derby, whether it be at Franklin’s Gardens or up the road at Leicester, to get the players going,” said coach Alan Dickens. “We’ve got to stick together as a team and match Leicester physically. We responded in a big way from a defeat the last time we played Tigers, and the players put in an attritional performance at home. The players have looked at themselves hard this week, as our last performance was not a reflection of what we can do. We are certainly looking for a reaction.” Prior to Saturday’s match, Leicester Tigers are the best team in Premiership Rugby on current form having gained 24 league points from their last 6 encounters. However, against Leicester at Welford Road the Saints withstood pressure, yellow cards, and countless close calls to win the derby. The match was stopped just 13 seconds in when Wallaby Rob Horne was treated for a serious injury and carried off. Next Northampton’s Ben Foden went over for the opening try. The departing Stephen Myler, playing in his final derby, notched the conversion and added a penalty to put Saints ahead 10-0. Leicester scored nine minutes later with a try with Telusa Veainu diving over. Matt Toomua next put the home side into the lead. The TMO was called in to confirm no knock on had occurred and a contentious call went his way. That lead lasted less than five minutes when Northampton’s South African atoned for his error by diving over after Teimana Harrison sent him through a gap. Myler again slotted his effort to make it 17-12. Northampton scored their third of the day courtesy of Ahsee Tuala. Ford kicked two quick penalties to cut the gap to six points. Northampton’s Alex Waller was sent to the sin bin; the numerical disadvantage didn’t stop their desire when they won a penalty at the scrum in front of the posts. Myler kicked the three to make it 27-18 with 10 minutes remaining. Ford then responded with his third penalty. Sub Jonah Holmes then thought he’d scored the winner when he went over, however, consultation with the TMO confirmed that George Worth had obstructed Piers Francis and the score was deleted.

Scorers

Leicester:
Tries: Veainu, Toomua
Con: Ford
Pens: Ford 3

Northampton:
Tries: Foden, Reinach, Tuala
Cons: Myler 3
Pens: Myler 2

Squads

Leicester
15 Telusa Veainu, 14 Adam Thompstone, 13 Matt Smith, 12 Matt Toomua, 11 Jonny May, 10 George Ford, 9 Sam Harrison, 8 Sione Kalamafoni, 7 Luke Hamilton, 6 Valentino Mapapalangi, 5 Graham Kitchener, 4 Mike Fitzgerald, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Tom Youngs (c), 1 Ellis Genge. Subs: 16 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 17 Greg Bateman, 18 Logovi’i Mulipola, 19 Harry Wells, 20 Will Evans, 21 Ben Youngs, 22 George Worth, 23 Jonah Holmes

Northampton
15 Ahsee Tuala, 14 Ben Foden, 13 Rob Horne (c), 12 Piers Francis, 11 George North, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Mitch Eadie, 7 Teimana Harrison, 6 Jamie Gibson, 5 James Craig, 4 Api Ratuniyarawa, 3 Paul Hill, 2 Mikey Haywood, 1 Campese Ma’afu. Subs: 16 Charlie Clare, 17 Alex Waller, 18 Ehren Painter, 19 Michael Paterson, 20 Ben Nutley, 21 Alex Mitchell, 22 Luther Burrell, 23 Tom Collins

Referee: Matthew Carley

Wasps 30-15 Worcester Warriors

Director of rugby Dai Young made only two changes to the starting XV that faced Sale last Friday for the visit of Worcester Warriors in Saturday’s Round 20 Aviva Premiership clash. South African international center Juan de Jongh has completed a full week’s training and started in the home midfield. Elliot Daly then switched to the left wing role. Young talked about his squad choices. “We have two home games coming up against teams below us who will be scrapping for their lives, so we know how difficult that is going to be,” said Dai Young. “Worcester had a good win against Newcastle last weekend. That helped us, but now we have to look after ourselves and concentrate on getting a result against them. Right across the board Worcester do basic things well. They have got a good set piece, some threatening players behind the scrum and a lot of spirit within their team. “Worcester will come all guns blazing wanting to get a win. We’re expecting a really physical game and we know if we’re not accurate they will pounce on any mistakes we make.”

Scrum-half Michael Dowsett and fly-half Dorian Jones were giving starting berths ahead of Worcester’s Premiership trip to Midlands rivals Wasps after impressing coming off the bench last weekend as Warriors battled back from 13-6 down to beat Newcastle Falcons 27-13. Director of rugby Alan Solomons gave them the chance to shine once again, as they both make their first Premiership starts of the season. The rest of the starting line-up remains unchanged as Chris Pennell makes his 199th club appearance alongside Bryce Heem and Josh Adams in the back three, while Jackson Willison and England star Ben Te’o were in the centers. Ryan Bower kept his spot at loosehead to partner Jack Singleton and Nick Schonert in the front-row with Darren Barry and Will Spencer continuing their second-row partnership. David Denton, Sam Lewis and skipper GJ van Velze started in the back-row.

Going into the match at Ricoh Arena, Wasps were keen to secure their top-four place and visiting Worcester were left to feel their sting. Christian Wade got his first score in less than 10 minutes. Jimmy Gopperth missed the conversion but added a penalty shortly after; Dorian Jones replying for the visitors to make it 10-3. Wasps then struck twice in three minutes: first through captain Joe Launchbury who went over from close range and then Wade was sent clear by Willie Le Roux. Gopperth added another penalty just before the interval to make it 23-3 at half-time. The bonus-point for Dai Young’s side came from winger Josh Bassett who scored an intercept try with Elliot Daly kicking the extra two. Worcester scored two exciting tries in the final three minutes. Bryce Heem raced down the field and the ball went to Dean Hammond who scored. Welsh international Josh Adams then scored at 80 minutes.

Scorers

Wasps:
Tries: Wade 2, Launchbury, Bassett
Cons: Gopperth, Daly
Pens: Gopperth 2

Worcester:
Tries: Hammond, Adams
Con: Shillcock
Pen: Jones

Squads

Wasps
15 Willie le Roux, 14 Christian Wade, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Jimmy Gopperth, 11 Elliot Daly, 10 Danny Cipriani, 9 Dan Robson, 8 Guy Thompson, 7 Thomas Young, 6 Jack Willis, 5 Will Rowlands, 4 Joe Launchbury (c), 3 Jake Cooper-Woolley, 2 Tom Cruse, 1 Matt Mullan. Subs: 16 Tommy Taylor, 17 Simon McIntyre, 18 Marty Moore, 19 Kearnan Myall, 20 James Haskell, 21 Craig Hampson, 22 Gaby Lovobalavu, 23 Josh Bassett

Worcester
15 Chris Pennell, 14 Bryce Heem, 13 Ben Te’o, 12 Jackson Willison, 11 Josh Adams, 10 Dorian Jones, 9 Michael Dowsett, 8 GJ van Velze (c), 7 Sam Lewis, 6 David Denton, 5 Will Spencer, 4 Darren Barry, 3 Nick Schonert, 2 Jack Singleton, 1 Ryan Bower. Subs: 16 Kurt Haupt, 17 Ethan Waller, 18 Gareth Milasinovich, 19 Andrew Kitchener, 20 Marco Mama, 21 Jonny Arr, 22 Jamie Shillcock, 23 Dean Hammond

Referee: Ian Tempest

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