Premiership: Leicester Tigers down Saints while Worcester, Bristol and Saracens win

Planet Rugby
Leicester Tigers fullback Freddie Stward catches the ball in a Premiership game.

England international Freddie Steward scored a hat-trick to power defending champions Leicester Tigers to a 41-21 win in a derby clash against Northampton Saints.

Christ Ashton continued his impressive try-scoring record as Saints finished the match with 12 players. Juarno Augustus, Emmanual Iyogun and Alex Mitchell were all yellow carded in the closing stages.

Alex Mitchell and Tommy Freeman got the Saints off to a good start, taking a 14-3 lead into half-time with Dan Biggar successfully converting both tries, but Leicester produced an outstanding second half performance.

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Saints controlled the opening exchanges but were unable to turn their possession into an early lead, a Freddie Burns penalty for the visitors the opening score of the contest.

The hosts thought they had taken the lead when Dan Biggar ended a seemingly sublime passage of play with a try, only for it to be ruled out for an earlier forward pass.

Yet Saints did not have to wait much longer for their first try of the afternoon, Mitchell opening their tally after a strong carry by Lewis Ludlam in the build-up.

And two minutes later they scored a second, Freeman bursting down the wing following a poor kick chase from the Tigers, with Biggar nailing both conversions to hand the hosts a 14-3 lead.

Tigers improved after a poor opening 20 minutes but continued to make sloppy mistakes when it really mattered, and Jimmy Gopperth’s chances of a try were scuppered by a superb tackle from Biggar.

However, after further pressure, they went in at half-time just four points behind after Steward’s 39th-minute try, with Burns adding the extras.

A frantic start to the second period saw both sides score tries as the contest ebbed and flowed.

Saints initially restored their 11-point lead through Coles, who surged over the line, with Biggar adding the extras.

But their margin was cut just two minutes later when Porter provided an immediate response for Tigers with a try generated from a scrum just outside Saints’ 22, with Burns providing the conversion.

Tigers continued to press and it appeared they had taken the lead through Jack van Poortvliet, though he was ultimately held up on the line thanks to some strong defending from the hosts.

It was Ashton, shortly after coming on, who gave Tigers the lead, finding space out wide and powering over as Saints became fragile defensively after Augustus and Iyogun received yellows.

Victory was confirmed when Martin scored Leicester’s fourth try, Mitchell sin-binned for a knock-on in the build-up, with Steward scoring two tries late on to finish the contest in style.

Bristol maintain winning start in high-scoring clash

Bristol moved top of the Premiership and confirmed their best start to a league season since 1999 by beating London Irish 40-36 at Ashton Gate.

The west country club matched a hat-trick of wins 23 years ago as they saw off Irish in bonus-point fashion.

England prop Ellis Genge followed his try double against Bath a fortnight ago with another touchdown, and there were also first-half scores for hooker Will Capon, wing Luke Morahan and scrum-half Harry Randall.

Irish were indebted to flashes of brilliance from England international Henry Arundell, who created their opening try and then scored one of his own following an 80-metre breakaway.

But Bristol shaded it after Irish had clawed it back to 26-24, with Jake Heenan and Max Lahiff claiming tries in quick succession, while fly-half AJ MacGinty kicked five conversions.

Worcester Warriors win despite off-field issues

Worcester put aside their off-field issues to romp to a 39-5 bonus-point thrashing of Newcastle in a game the crisis-hit Warriors were treating as possibly their last at Sixways.

Warriors have until early Monday evening to provide the Rugby Football Union with assurances over financing and insurance, with the risk of suspension and full removal from all leagues hanging over them.

There may yet be an 11th-hour rescue package, but all Warriors fans can do now is wait and hope.

Yet despite the threat of this encounter being the club’s Premiership swansong, head coach Steve Diamond extracted a heroic display from players who completely outgunned a hapless Newcastle outfit five tries to one.

Owen Farrell wins it for Saracens with late kick

Owen Farrell landed a match-winning conversion in the final act of a roller-coaster Premiership clash that saw Saracens edge Gloucester 41-39 at StoneX Stadium.

Two tries in five minutes from replacement hooker Tom Woolstencroft, the second scored on the stroke of full-time, rescued Saracens on an afternoon when they appeared to have blown a 10-point lead.

It still needed a nerveless kick five metres in from the touchline by Farrell to seal victory and the England fly-half duly delivered.

The game was dominated by the maul as first Gloucester and then Saracens used it as a weapon that seemed beyond both teams to defend adequately.

Four of Gloucester’s five tries amid a fightback of their own came as a result of their pack driving forwards on a chastening afternoon for last season’s runners-up, who then responded by using the same method to claim their last three touchdowns.

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