Mixed fortunes for Bath at The Rec
August 12, 2012
Adam Thompstone made his first appearance for Leicester against Jersey on Saturday following his move from London Irish © Getty Images
Gavin Henson opened his account for London Welsh against Bath at The Rec on Saturday but was unable to prevent his side falling to a 40-31 defeat in their opening pre-season clash.
The Exiles' high-profile recruit entered the clash at half-time as a replacement for Gordon Ross and would finish the game with three conversions to his name but could not steer his side to a morale-boosting victory. There was not such good news for Bath fly-half Tom Heathcote who limped out of the game with a serious knee injury midway through the first half.
On another day Welsh's four-try haul might have been enough to see them snatch a victory, and the Exiles did lead 10-9 after 33 minutes thanks to Dan George's converted try, only for the home side to blitz the visitors either side of half time. Tries from Kyle Eastmond and Michael Claassens saw Bath turn that one-point deficit into a 21-10 lead, and when David Wilson and Will Tanner crossed early in the second half Bath were in control. But in a game punctuated by substitutions, the Exiles finished the stronger. Carl Fearns may have cancelled out Jonah Holmes' try for Welsh, but Paulica Ion and Ashley Smith ensured a more than a respectable look to the final scroreline.
Elsewhere, Heineken Cup champions Leinster proved too strong for Gloucester on their way to a 33-22 victory in Dublin. The hosts outscored their Premiership rivals five-tries-to-three with Leo Auva'a, Ian Madigan, Andrew Boyle, Dominic Ryan and Darren Hudson all crossing. Dan Murphy (2) and Ian Clark kept Gloucester in the contest while new signing Rob Cook notched his first points for the club from the kicking tee.
Meanwhile, Leicester Tigers recorded a 34-21 win against Jersey with Jordan Crane celebrating his comeback from injury with an early try. Tigers ran in four first-half tries in the opening leg of their pre-season programme, and added another two in the second half, while the hosts scored three tries and got within eight points midway through the second half. The Tigers starting line-up included Vereniki Goneva, Rob Andrew, Brett Deacon and Richard Thorpe while Pat Phibbs, Matt Cornwell and Adam Thompstone made their first appearances since their summer moves to Welford Road.
Worcester scrum-half Ollie Frost dived over for a dramatic last-minute try to seal a 30-25 victory over Cardiff Blues at the Arms Park that also saw new recuit Semisi Taulava power over for a try. Four tries from Tom Brady helped a Sale Sharks XV beat Fylde 38-26 at Woodlands and Connacht edged out Exeter Chiefs 8-6 at Sandy Park with a Fetu'u Vainikolo proving pivotal.
Saracens began their pre-season campaign with a solid 24-12 victory over Bedford Blues on Friday evening. In the club's first run-out of the new season, tries from Charlie Hodgson, Will Fraser and a penalty try saw them to victory at Goldington Road.
Wasps director of rugby Dai Young was unhappy with his side's 32-15 defeat to Treviso in their first game of their build-up to the new season. Billy Vunipola and Zak Taulafo crossed the line for Wasps with debutant Stephen Jones adding a conversion and a penalty but the Italian side scored four tries and Young was as upset about the margin of defeat as he was about the failure to win the game.
"We knew it was always going to be tough," he told the club's website. "We are obviously disappointed by the margin. People often say that winning or losing in preseason games isn't important but I think that it always is. I would always rather get a win. I am confident in the direction that we are headed. Obviously we aren't happy with the loss, or with the margin of the defeat but there is still a lot to work on."
Northampton Saints suffered a 30-28 defeat to Zebre in their opening pre-season match but forwards coach Dorian West still declared it as "a useful exercise". The Saints led 21-13 at half time thanks to tries from Martin Roberts, Luther Burrell and Jamie Elliot and three conversions from fly-half Ryan Lamb. But the Saints changed their entire side for the second period and the Italian side took advantage with fly-half Luciano Orquera converted Samuele Pace's to steal the victory.
Shane Geraghty helped London Irish to a 13-0 victory over Nottingham at Sunbury on his comeback for the club. The summer signing set up a try for winger Topsy Ojo and impressed in the first half before being replaced at the break by Steve Shingler. Ofisa Treviranus scored Irish's second try of the evening.
Elsewhere on Friday, the Welsh sides struggled in France with the Scarlets losing 17-9 to Narbonne, Aled Brew scored two tries as Biarritz blitzed the Dragons 40-3 and the reigning RaboDirect Pro12 champions the Ospreys losing heavily, 49-25, to Clermont Auvergne.
Aviva Premiership champions Harlequins started their pre-season campaign with a 31-15 loss away at Top 14 Orange side Castres. Despite the loss, Quins will take heart from the fact that they were playing without their nine EPS players and other first-teamers such as Nick Easter and Mo Fa'asavalu not playing. Castres' tries came thanks to a double from Marc Andreu, a powerful effort from ex-Sale prop Karena Wihongi and one from Romain Martial. Harlequins managed to grab two scores with Ollie Lindsay-Hague and Pete Browne going over.
Quins boss Conor O'Shea was pleased with his side's efforts saying: "A lot of players got an opportunity tonight and against a full-strength Castres side, who prepare to face Toulouse next week, we played some outstanding rugby. We have learnt a lot, both individually and collectively tonight and we were delighted with the commitment and skill shown so early in the season."
Elsewhere on Thursday, Ulster started their campaign with an impressive 20-15 win over a Bayonne side that featured the likes of Joe Rokocoko, Mike Phillips and Neemia Tialata. Ulster, in contrast, were void of their Irish internationals. Bayonne's two tries both came from hooker David Roumieu with Ulster's scores coming thanks to Neil McComb and Michael Heaney.
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