Saturday saw two difficult away games for Saracens and Leicester. At
Bath, Saracens restricted Bath to one try, and had the superior place
kicker in Gavin Johnson, which proved to be the difference in the two
sides. Bath had chances - Adebayo unlucky according to the TV cameras
not to be given a penalty try when shoved off the ball by Brendan
Daniel. Andy Nicol, reinstated at scrum half and captain for the day,
lasted all of 7 minutes until being injured and replaced by Hatley. A
period of pressure before half time saw Saracens defence hold out, and
in the second half the visitors increased their grip, at least on the
scoreboard, and although Balshaw then scored his try kicking ahead,
Penaud scored a drop goal to take the margin back to 8 points. For the
visitors, Bracken was in good form on his return from injury, as was
Paul Wallace at prop. Penaud, though had a mixed day at fly half.
Losses at Kingsholm over the last two seasons saw Leicester disappear
from league contention, and did for Bob Dwyer last season. This time
round their pack proved too strong in the closing stages, their
scrummage and lineout giving them plenty of ball, and Corry hugely
influential. The backs however were again hit and miss, with Murphy
learning plenty on his fly half debut. Tim Stimpson showed the vital
importance of a decent reserve place-kicker, his 6 penalties needed to
tough out the win: Gloucester leading with 10 minutes to go. Johnson
became the third Leicester player to be sin-binned this season for
fighting (proff the white card is not being used as intended), but
after some horrible times at the hands of the Shed had the last laugh
Mark Mapletoft, who always has a blinder against Leicester, came on as
sub and did his best to give Richard Hill something to cheer about,
but in the end the Gloucester coach thought fitness failed the home
side. Two tries to one for the home side, but Gloucester outpowered at
home will be a bitter pill.
London Irish stopped Harlequins' impressive 6-win recovery from an
awful start to the season, with a sparkling first half try for Stephen
Bachop, and a penalty try in the last quarter when 10-16 down. New
Zealander Cunningham provided the place kicking. For Quins, Brooke,
out with a virus, was missed in the back row.
In the evening game Richmond beat Scottish away, turning round 9-6
down, but then coming good as their flanker Vander scored a couple of
On Sunday Newcastle and Northampton both managed 5 tries to win their
games comfortably enough.
Newcastle 30-15 Sale
West Hartlepool 9-33 Northampton
P W D L F A Pts
Leicester 13 10 0 3 397 236 20
Northampton 13 10 0 3 352 272 20
Saracens 13 9 0 4 410 283 18
Wasps 13 8 0 5 390 269 16
Bath 13 7 0 6 342 264 14
Newcastle 12 7 0 5 337 300 14
Harlequins 12 7 0 5 321 310 14
Gloucester 13 7 0 6 290 287 14
Richmond 12 7 0 5 327 326 14
London Irish 13 6 0 7 320 334 12
Sale 13 5 0 8 307 380 10
London Scottish 12 3 0 9 214 310 6
Bedford 13 2 0 11 294 422 4
West Hartlepool 13 1 0 12 192 510 2
Bath 11 Saracens 19
Bath: M Perry; I Balshaw, K Maggs, J Guscott, A Adebayo; M Catt, A
Nicol (capt, S Hatley 9min); D Hilton (J Mallett 71min), A Long, V
Ubogu, S Borthwick (B Sturnham 49min), N Redman, R Earnshaw (N Thomas
49min), D Lyle, E Peters.
Saracens: G Johnson; B Daniel, R Constable, S Ravenscroft, R Wallace;
A Penaud, K Bracken; D Flatman (B Reidy 71min), G Chuter, P Wallace, P
Johns, D Grewcock, T Coker (P Ogilvy 65min), T Diprose, F Pienaar
Bath: Try: Balshaw. Pens: Catt (2).
Saracens: Try: Ravenscroft. Con: Johnson. DG: Penaud.
Pens: Johnson (3).
Referee: A Rowden (RFU).
Gloucester 18 Leicester 23
Gloucester: C Catling; B Johnson (M Mapletoft 34min), T Fanolua, R
Tombs (capt), P Saint-Andre; S Mannix, I Sanders (S Benton 61min); A
Windo, C Fortey (N McCarthy 40min), A Deacon (A Powles 63min), R
Fidler, M Cornwell (D Sims 63min), K Jones, S Ojomoh, N Carter.
Leicester: T Stimpson; L Lloyd, S Potter, P Howard, D Lougheed; G
Murphy, A Healey; G Rowntree (D Jelley 70min), R***erill, D
Garforth, M Johnson (capt), F van Heerden, P Gustard, M Corry, N Back.
Scorers: Lougheed (T 11min) 0-5; B Johnson (T 15min) 5-5; Stimpson (P
26min) 5-8; Stimpson (P 34min) 5-11; Mapletoft (P 42min) 8-11;
Mapletoft (T & C 44min) 15-11; Stimpson (P 50min) 15-14; Stimpson (P
61min) 16-17; Mapletoft (P 60min) 18-17; Stimpson (P 70min) 18-20;
Stimpson (P 79min) 18-23.
Referee: N Williams (RFU).
London Irish 20 Harlequins 16
London Irish: C O'Shea (captain); J Bishop, N Burrows (R Todd 59min),
B Venter, J Cunningham (N Woods 81min); S Bachop, K Putt; N Hatley, M
Howe (R Kirk 60min), K Fullman (R Hardwick 71min), R Strudwick, M
O'Kelly, J Boer, K Dawson, R Gallacher (K Spicer 68min).
Harlequins: J Williams; D O'Leary (J Kayter 76min), D Officer, J
Schuster, D Luger; T Lacroix (captain), H Harries (C Wright 36min); J
Leonard, K Wood, G Halpin (D Barnes 68min), G Llewellyn, G Morgan, A
Leach, R Jenkins, C Sheasby
London Irish: Tries: Bachop, penalty. Cons: Cunningham (2).
Pen: Cunningham (2).
Harlequins: Tries: Wood. Con: Schuster. Pen: Schuster (3).
Referee: E Morrison (RFU).
London Scot 16 Richmond 28
London Scottish: I McAusland; K Milligan, J Bonney, R Eriksson, S
Forrest; J de Beer; G Easterby, P Johnstone, D Rudham, P Burnell, E
Jones, M Watson, S Fenn, R Hunter, S Holmes.
Richmond: M Pini; N Walne, A Bateman, M Dixon, S Brown; E Va'a, A
Pichot; D McFarland, B Williams, J Davies, B Cusack, C Dillies, R
Hutton, L Cabannes, A Vander.
London Scottish: Try: Easterby Con: de Beer. Pen: de Beer (3).
Richmond: Tries: Vender (2). Cons: Va'a (2), Va'a. Pens: Va'a (3).
Referee: Paul Bridgman (Hants).
Saturday 26th December
Harlequins v Sale
Leicester v Bedford
Richmond v London Irish
Sunday 27th December
Newcastle v West Hartlepool
Saracens v London Scottish
Wasps v Gloucester
Northampton entertain Cardiff, and Bath visit Swansea.
All the best