Tigers, Scarlets, Saints and Bath into semi-finals
February 5, 2012
Toby Flood calls the shots for the Tigers © Getty Images
A first-half hat-trick from wing Tom Biggs helped Bath secure a home Anglo-Welsh Cup semi-final against Leicester with a comfortable 31-3 victory over a weakened Exeter at Sandy Park on Sunday.
Fellow speedster Ollie Woodburn and flanker Josh Ovens completed the rout that ensured the visitors top Pool 1 of the competition and the result of the Newport-Gwent Dragons game against Saracens, which fell victim to the weather on Friday night, is now irrelevant.
As a result, the line-up for this season's semi-finals is now complete with Bath set to entertain Premiership rivals Leicester Tigers in the last four and second-ranked Northampton due to play host to The Scarlets. Both games will be played between March 9-11 with the final at Worcester's Sixways Stadium scheduled for the following weekend.
Leicester confirmed their place in the semi-finals with a 24-13 win over Newcastle Falcons at Welford Road on Saturday. With snow sweeping much of the country, fans of the Tigers would have been cheered to see Toby Flood back in action. The England fly-half came through 30 minutes of the match without any seeming ill-effects. George Skivington and Thomas Waldrom scored the Tigers' tries with Jeremy Staunton slotting 14 points for the home side. Kiwi fly-half Jimmy Gopperth scored the Falcons' sole try of the match.
And the Tigers will be joined in the semi-finals by their neighbours - the Northampton Saints. Jim Mallinder's men dispatched Dai Young's London Wasps with ease as they ran in eight tries en route to a 57-10 triumph. The Saints were 22-3 ahead at half-time thanks to scores from Andy Long, James Craig and Jamie Elliot. But they pulled away in the second 40 with a penalty try, a further Elliot try, a double from Noah Cato and prop Alex Waller's score all adding to their total. England scrum-half Joe Simpson's score will prove to be scant consolation for the struggling Wasps.
The Scarlets will join the Midlands duo despite losing 19-14 at the Sale Sharks. England flanker Hendre Fourie marked his home debut with a try with 14 points from Nick Macleod bringing up their 19 point total. The Scarlets - complete with Stephen Jones - were winning 11-7 at half-time with prop Peter Edwards' try putting them in front after two Daniel Newton penalties. Jones' late penalty gave them the losing bonus point.
Elsewhere, Tom Homer helped London Irish to a 23-15 win over Premiership rivals Gloucester. Homer's 18 points and a try from Brian Blaney was enough to give them the win but Gloucester will take solace from Ian Clark's double. The winger scored a sensational length of the field effort and crossed for another. A penalty and a conversion from centre-come-fly-half Mike Tindall brought up their 15 point total.
And Saturday's action was completed at Sixways as the Worcester Warriors overcame the Ospreys 24-14. With the snow coming down, a double from Josh Drauniniu and one from Jake Abbott - coupled with nine points from Andy Goode - gave the Warriors a morale-boosting win. Matthew Morgan and Hanno Dirksonall crossed for the Welsh side.
In Sunday's other game, four tries from forgotten winger Tom James helped the Cardiff Blues pick up their first points of this season's competition in an entertaining dead rubber against Harlequins at Cardiff City Stadium. James, seemingly ignored in the search for a successor to retired Wales legend Shane Williams, was clearly keen to impress, seeking out opportunities all over the pitch. But with a youthful Harlequins side finishing strongly, it was the faultless kicking of returning New Zealander Ben Blair which proved the difference as each side crossed for six tries.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
"To be the best it's not about the flash stuff, it's actually about everything done at a very high level." Tom Hamilton on the England squad
Huw Richards rewinds to 1864 to mark the birth of Welsh rugby's first authentic star - Arthur Gould
Michael Cheika has succeeded in becoming the Wallabies coach under his own terms, writes Greg Growden
In the blink of an eye, a winger can go from a hero to villain. Hugh Godwin talks to Zac Guildford and David Strettle about life on the flank