The East Midlands derby was full of drama on Saturday while Exeter fought back to defeat Sale and Harlequins hammered Newcastle.
Exeter 30-25 Sale
Sandy Park, Exeter
Exeter Chiefs bounced back from a half-time deficit to beat Sale 30-25 at Sandy Park.
Second place Exeter’s first 40 was one nobody saw coming as Sale stormed into a strong lead midway through the half. Three first half penalties a conversion from AJ MacGinty propped up the scoreline after Denny Solomona’s solo run from 70 metres.
But Kai Horstmann and Luke Cowan-Dickie dragged Exeter back into the tie and ensured they were only 12-19 down after the disastrous opening.
Olly Woodburn extended the lead with a third try after the break, and Don Armand got a fourth after nipping through challenges and going in under the posts.
MacGinty was in great form and kept hopes alive for Sale with five tries, but Henry Slade’s conversions were followed by a string of penalties as any chance of a Sale comeback continued to slip away late on.
Sale pushed hard late on in search of the losing bonus point and got it late on, but it was mere consolation after throwing away a strong start.
Tries: Horstmann, Cowan-Dickie, Woodburn, Armand
Cons: Slade 2
Pens: Slade 2
Pens: MacGinty 6
Exeter Chiefs: 15 Phil Dollman, 14 Jack Nowell, 13 Ian Whitten, 12 Ollie Devoto, 11 Olly Woodburn, 10 Henry Slade, 9 Stuart Townsend, 8 Thomas Waldrom, 7 Don Armand (c), 6 Kai Horstmann, 5 Geoff Parling, 4 Mitch Lees, 3 Harry Williams, 2 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 1 Ben Moon
Replacements: 16 Jack Yeandle, 17 Carl Rimmer, 18 Tomas Francis, 19 Jonny Hill, 20 Sam Simmonds, 21 Jack Maunder, 22 Joe Simmonds, 23 James Short
Sale Sharks: 15 Mike Haley, 14 Denny Solomona, 13 Sam James, 12 Mark Jennings, 11 Byron McGuigan, 10 AJ MacGinty, 9 Mike Phillips, 8 Josh Beaumont (c), 7 Tom Curry, 6 Cameron Neild, 5 Andrei Ostrikov, 4 Bryn Evans, 3 Halani Aulika, 2 Rob Webber, 1 Ross Harrison
Replacements: 16 Ben Curry, 17 James Flynn, 18 Kieran Longbottom, 19 George Nott, 20 Laurence Pearce, 21 Peter Stringer, 22 Sam Bedlow, 23 Josh Charnley
Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys
Assistant Referees: Anthony Woodthorpe, Paul Burton
TMO: Geoff Warren
Harlequins 53-17 Newcastle Falcons
The Stoop, London
Harlequins went on a seven try rampage at The Stoop as they demolished Newcastle 53-17.
Falcons went ahead early on as Sonatane Takulua went over four minutes in, but Rob Buchanan’s try and Nick Evans three pointer gave the hosts the advantage.
The hosts stretched their lead before the break thanks to Mike Brown, who grabbed the second try before Juan Pablo Socino saw yellow. And that provided the perfect chance for Quins to get number three with Joe Marchant stealing possession and going over for a 27-10 lead.
And the second half got even worse for Falcons as they soon lost reach of a Harlequins side who got three more tries in the first 20 minutes. The bonus-point arrived a couple of minutes in, with Marland Yarde benefitting from Brown’s work in the build up.
Mat Luamanu and Danny Care added to the try total in a dominant start to the second 40, with a late Falcons try from Mark Wilson counting for very little.
Tim Swiel took Quins past the half century with their seventh try as a miserable afternoon for the visitors continued right to the last.
Tries: Buchanan, Brown, Marchant, Yarde, Luamanu, Care, Swiel
Cons: Evans 6
Pen: Evans 2
Tries: Takulua, Wilson
Cons: Takulua, Delany
Yellow Card: Socino, Olmstead
Harlequins: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Marland Yarde, 13 Joe Marchant, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 Tim Visser, 10 Nick Evans, 9 Danny Care, 8 Mat Luamanu, 7 Dave Ward (c), 6 Chris Robshaw, 5 James Horwill, 4 George Merrick, 3 Will Collier, 2 Rob Buchanan, 1 Joe Marler
Replacements: 16 Joe Gray, 17 Mark Lambert, 18 Kyle Sinckler, 19 Charlie Matthews, 20 Jack Clifford, 21 Charlie Mulchrone, 22 Tim Swiel, 23 Alofa Alofa
Newcastle Falcons: 15 Alex Tait, 14 Vereniki Goneva, 13 Dominic Waldouck, 12 Juan Pablo Socino, 11 Sinoti Sinoti, 10 Joel Hodgson, 9 Sonatane Takulua, 8 Nili Latu, 7 Will Welch (c), 6 Callum Chick, 5 Mark Wilson, 4 Calum Green, 3 Jon Welsh, 2 Scott Lawson, 1 Rob Vickers
Replacements: 16 Ben Sowrey, 17 Ben Harris, 18 David Wilson, 19 Evan Olmstead, 20 Ally Hogg, 21 Michael Young, 22 Mike Delany, 23 Chris Harris
Referee: Tom Foley
Assistant Referees: Hamish Smales, Adam Leal
TMO: Keith Lewis
Northampton 31-36 Leicester
Franklin’s Gardens, Northampton
Aaron Mauger’s final match as head coach of Leicester saw him leave on a high, with a 36-31 win over East Midlands rivals Northampton at Franklin’s Gardens.
The battle of the East Midlands is always an interesting one and with this being Mauger’s last match at the helm, it was always bound to be a memorable too.
A big scoring first 40 saw Saints go into the break 22-16 to the good after three first-half tries. The first came barely a minute in as a long kick was claimed by Nafi Tuitavake after the bounce and he went through for the opener.
Tigers pulled it back when Adam Thompstone went through to level, but it didn’t last long before Ahsee Tuala got Saints second as the clock ticked past 10 minutes.
Two penalties and a drop goal from Freddie Burns ensured Leicester were never out of sight but a third try from Louis Picamoles ensured it was Saints half.
But following their woeful start to the first half, Tigers put it right early in the second. Ben Youngs found room on the left to go over and the conversion from Burns put Tigers a point ahead, although Myler restored the lead with a couple of penalties.
Saints were arguably the better side but failed to make the most of possession and territory, with Leicester often threatening to go up the other end. They also wasted chances with the boot as Owen Williams found his radar to be off.
And Leicester did turn the game around late on as Lachlan McCaffrey went over with 10 left to play after JP Pietersen was held up metres from the line. Williams conversion put Leicester two points ahead. Myler struck back with another three to make it a one point gap in Saints favour.
But they couldn’t hold onto the lead and it changed hands for the final time as Williams kept his nerve and his angles to fire through two more penalties for a 36-31 win.
Tries: Tuitavake, Tuala, Picamoles
Cons: Myler 2
Pens: Myler 4
Tries: Thompstone, B Youngs, McCaffrey
Cons: Burns, Williams 2
Pens: Burns 2, Williams 2
Northampton Saints: 15 Ahsee Tuala, 14 Ben Foden, 13 Nafi Tuitavake, 12 Harry Mallinder, 11 George North, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Louis Picamoles, 7 Calum Clark, 6 Tom Wood (c), 5 Christian Day, 4 Courtney Lawes, 3 Kieran Brookes, 2 Dylan Hartley, 1 Alex Waller
Replacements: 16 Mikey Haywood, 17 Ethan Waller, 18 Paul Hill, 19 Jamie Gibson, 20 Teimana Harrison, 21 Lee Dickson, 22 Luther Burrell, 23 Ken Pisi
Leicester Tigers: 15 Telusa Veainu, 14 Adam Thompstone, 13 Mathew Tait, 12 Maxime Mermoz, 11 J P Pietersen, 10 Freddie Burns, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Luke Hamilton, 7 Brendon O’Connor, 6 Mike Fitzgerald, 5 Graham Kitchener, 4 Dom Barrow, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Tom Youngs (c), 1 Ellis Genge
Replacements: 16 George McGuigan, 17 Michele Rizzo, 18 Pat Cilliers, 19 Mike Williams, 20 Lachlan McCaffrey, 21 Ben White, 22 Owen Williams, 23 Jack Roberts
Referee: Greg Garner
Assistant Referees: Andrew P Jackson, Roy Maybank
TMO: Stuart Terheege