Exiles snatch late draw as Kyle Rowe claims hat-trick
A Kyle Rowe hat-trick set the stage for 14-man London Irish to snatch a sensational 34-34 draw against Saracens at StoneX Stadium.
The Exiles trailed 34-8 with 18 minutes remaining, having lost Adam Coleman to a first-half red card, but somehow came back to earn a draw, with Rory Jennings kicking the final conversion to seal the comeback.
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The home side were on the scoreboard within the first five minutes, Tom Woolstencroft at the back of a rolling maul, with Alex Lozowski missing the conversion.
Paddy Jackson and Lozowski then exchanged penalties before the visitors were reduced to 14 men, Coleman given his marching orders after a high and dangerous tackle on Jackson Wray.
It took a while for Saracens to make use of their man advantage though, Rotimi Segun taking a pass following a lineout and dancing his way through the Irish defence from 15 metres out to score in the corner, with Lozowski again failing to add the extras as the scores stood at 13-3.
The floodgates opened for the home side after the restart, Segun sprinting away from his opposite number after the ball was spun through the backs to score in the corner.
Ben Earl then took an offload from Andy Christie to grab the bonus point under the posts, Lozowski converted both times to push the lead to 27-3.
Irish got their first try of the afternoon five minutes afterwards, Rowe powering through a pair of Saracens tacklers and stretching over from a yard out, but Jennings could not cut the lead any further as he pulled his conversion wide.
It was Mako Vunipola’s turn to get on the scoresheet for the home side, barrelling through the Irish defence from five metres out before Lozowski’s conversion pushed the score to 34-8.
Rowe responded with his second try of the day, weaving his way through the Saracens defence from the halfway line and escaping the grasp of four would-be tacklers before touching down before Jennings added the extras.
Nick Phipps then bagged another, taking the hand-off from Ollie Hassell-Collins and finishing under the posts with Jennings again converting.
Irish set the game up for a nervous final few minutes as they grabbed their bonus-point try, Matt Rogerson taking the ball from the back of a lineout and barging over from short-range, Jennings’ conversion was unsuccessful, leaving the gap at just seven points heading into the final five minutes.
The visitors had one final attempt to try and tie the game, and Rowe’s third try of the day in the corner left the result of the game hanging on Jennings’ boot, and he duly dispatched the extras to give Irish a thoroughly deserved draw.
Newcastle Falcons late show stuns Exeter Chiefs
Newcastle Falcons earned their first win at Exeter Chiefs at the 14th attempt as Brett Connon’s late penalty stunned helped the visitors to a 15-14 victory.
It was a third defeat in four home games for the Devon side, following on from their losses to Northampton and London Irish.
Newcastle made a very bright start and took an eighth-minute lead when they boldly turned down a kickable penalty and went to the corner, with the catch-and-drive finished off by hooker George McGuigan, with Joel Hodgson adding the conversion on his 150th competitive appearance for the Falcons.
On the stroke of half-time, Joe Simmonds crossed for a try which he duly converted and teams were deadlocked at 7-7 at the interval.
The home side were fastest out of the blocks and were rewarded when Don Armand scored their second try in the 50th minute and Simmonds added the extras to give Chiefs a 14-7 lead.
The Falcons struck back with a try from Ben Stevenson in the 57th minute before Connon sealed the win with his three-pointer off the kicking tee shortly before the end.
Sale Sharks ease past Northampton Saints
AJ MacGinty claimed 15 points as Sale eased past Northampton 30-6 at a rain-soaked AJ Bell Stadium on Saturday.
Akker van der Merwe, Marland Yarde and Jono Ross crossed over as the hosts bounced back from defeats at Leicester and Worcester.
Northampton enjoyed plenty of territory and possession but they were rebuffed by a determined Sale defence, which refused to provide any gaps for the away side to exploit.
The Saints – missing 23 players due to injury and international duty – ended the evening with just two James Grayson penalties to show for their efforts.
Bristol Bears see off Worcester Warriors
Toby Fricker scored two tries as Bristol ensured Worcester extended their miserable away record as they crashed to a 27-5 defeat at Ashton Gate.
The Warriors have not won away in any competition since beating London Irish at the Stoop in September 2020 but had they taken their chances, they could certainly have run the home side a whole lot closer.
Despite having the lion’s share of possession and territory, Warriors could manage only a single try from Noah Heward while potent Bristol scored four.
Sam Jeffries and Tom Whiteley added to Fricker’s double, with Callum Sheedy kicking a penalty and two conversions.