Premiership sides set the early pace
November 11, 2012
Exeter's Myles Dorrian dives over to score against London Welsh at the Kassam Stadium © Getty Images
Flanker Matt Garvey scored two tries for London Irish who overturned a half-time deficit to Sale Sharks to open their Anglo-Welsh Cup campaign with a 34-28 win at the Madejski Stadium on Sunday.
Lock George Skivington and centre Shane Geraghty scored the Exiles' other tries, with fly-half Ian Humphreys kicking 14 points. Danny Cipriani scored 18 points for Sale with a try, three penalties and two conversions after out-of-favour Wales scrum-half Dwayne Peel's try gave the visitors an early lead. Sale salvaged a losing bonus point with winger Charlie Amesbury's last-ditch try, converted by Cipriani.
Elsewhere in Sunday, A completely-changed Exeter gained a measure of revenge for their Aviva Premiership defeat at the Kassam Stadium earlier this season with an emphatic 42-15 victory over London Welsh. The Warriors scored four of their six tries in the final quarter, with Nic Sestaret and Jack Nowell both going over twice, to blow away their hosts who had led 9-8 at half-time.
Will Carrick-Smith and Mark Foster touched down for Exeter before their late blitz, with Henry Slade adding 12 points from the boot. The Exiles, who retained 10 players from the team that met bath last time out, relied on Gordon Ross to kick over all of their points. The hosts had no answer to the young Chiefs who were a revelation, showing huge enterprise, and had they showed a little more composure in the first half then Welsh would have suffered an even greater defeat.
On Saturday, Ben Botica inspired Harlequins to claim a last-ditch 31-30 victory over Northampton at Franklin's Gardens. The 23-year-old scored a try in injury-time before slotting the decisive conversion to snatch victory for Harlequins, who looked like they had blown a 21-9 half time lead. Quins had raced into a strong lead thanks to two tries from winger Sam Smith and one from Harry Sloan, with Botica converting all three first half tries. Three penalties from Ryan Lamb kept Saints in the match and after half time the hosts mounted a comeback.
Centre Luther Burrell touched down for the Saints after Lamb had landed his fourth penalty and the fly-half kicked the conversion, another penalty and a drop goal to put the hosts in charge with in the dying seconds. But Botica, who added another penalty midway through the second half, rescued Quins in a thrilling finale.
Semesa Rokoduguni scored two tries as Bath beat the Dragons 36-15 at the Rec. The former army soldier, who was only given a full-time contract with Bath after impressing during a trial earlier this year, crossed in the eighth and 80th minutes while matt Banahan also touched down for the hosts and young fly-half Tom Heathcote kicked five penalties and three conversions for a haul of 21 points. The Dragons scored tries through Ross Wardle and Dan Evans while fly-half Steffan Jones kicked a penalty and converted one of the tries.
Worcester ran in four second-half tries as they beat the Scarlets 34-18 at Sixways. Replacements Ben Howard, Semisi Taulava and Neil Best all scored while Jake Abbott also crossed for the Warriors in a second-half onslaught that yielded 28 points for the hosts. Joe Carlisle kicked all four conversions and two penalties in the victory. The Scarlets had led 13-6 at half time after a try from Andy Fenby and two penalties and the conversion from Owen Williams. Kristian Phillips grabbed a late try for the visitors but it was their only points of the second half as the Warriros swept them aside.
On Friday evening, Saracens kick-started campaign with a convincing 38-21 win over the current title-holders Leicester Tigers. Sarries, who were playing at Bedford Blues' Goldington Road, raced into a 30-0 lead over the Tigers in the first-half with hooker Jamie George, outside centre Duncan Taylor and former Bath winger Joe Maddock all scoring. Fly-half Nils Mordt knocked over three conversions and two penalties to add to the three-try tally.
Faced with a massive deficit, the Tigers rallied in the second 40 and scored two tries of their own through Joe Cain and debutant No.8 Michael Noone but their joy proved to be short-lived when Sarries openside Andy Saull scored his team's fourth try in the 64th minute. Promising Sarries second-row George Kruis was issued with a yellow card in the 69th minute and the Tigers crossed one more time in the last play of the game with Harry Thacker scoring.
And elsewhere on Friday evening, the Cardiff Blues ended their six-game losing streak with a 22-17 win against Wasps at the Arms Park. Fullback Dan Fish put the home side in front with a stunning try after 12 minutes but two penalties from Wasps fly-half Tommy Bell reduced the deficit to just one point. And on the 11-minute mark Elliot Daly crashed over for the away side capitalising on good work from No.8 Billy Vunipola. Bell's penalty in the 39th minute proved to be the final score of the first-half so Wasps went into the break 14-7 to the good.
But it was Cardiff who started the better of the two sides in the second 40 and following a penalty apiece, two tries in 11 minutes from Tom James and former Welsh international Ceri Sweeney put the Blues in control. Wasps rallied late but could not get the required try leaving the home side with a morale-boosting win.
And the Blues' Welsh rivals the Ospreys opened up their challenge with an impressive 33-27 triumph over Gloucester at the Liberty Stadium. Despite the inclement conditions, it was an entertaining affair and after the Ospreys' Matthew Morgan and Gloucester's Billy Burns traded kicks, the away side's prop Yann Thomas crashed over for the first try of the match after 26 minutes. But Morgan chipped back at the Cherry and White's lead and it was the Ospreys who went into the break 15-13 to the good.
The Ospreys knocked over two more penalties in the early stages of the second-half and their lead was further stretched when Tom Grabham went over. The home side looked to have the match tied up at 26-13 but two tries in four minutes from the away side - thanks to a score from Dan Murphy and a penalty try - gave the away side an unlikely lead. But to the relief of the Ospreys' supporters No.8 Morgan Allen crashed over with just two minutes left and the home side hung on for the win.
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