There were upsets throughout the fixture list this weekend as we take a look at the action in round 15 of the Aviva Premiership.
Saracens suffered their second defeat in a row on Friday under the lights at Kingsholm. Although Sarries took an early 3-7 lead, it was Gloucester who were the better side on the day; their tough defence holding out much of Saracens’ attacking play. Tries through Tom Marshall, Jeremy Thrush had helped the hosts make it 23-23 before Richard Hibbard’s late effort clinched it.
Worcester were brought down to earth after last week’s victory over Saracens by an adventurous Exeter Chiefs side. A second half yellow card to Alafoti Fa’osiliva saw the momentum completely swing, as Worcester conceded three quick-fire tries from an 18-17 half-time lead. Worcester rallied late on to gain a try bonus point, but they could not stop James Short completing his hat trick as the Devon side ran out 32-48 victors. Leicester put Bristol to the sword at Welford Road racking up 8 tries in a 50-17 demolition. Injury returnees Telusa Veainu and JP Pietersen played a large part in the win with one memorable Veainu run from his own 22 culminating in the South African winger diving over to score. And Bath overcame a hit and miss display at The Rec to beat Harlequins 22-12. Although outscored two tries to one, Rhys Priestland kicked 17 points to ensure the West country outfit took the win.
Wasps travelled to a resurgent Sale on Sunday in the hopes of taking advantage of Saracen’s slip up to Gloucester, only for the Sharks to produce an remarkable performance which saw them end up 34-28 winners. Denny Solomona took the headlines with an inspired hat trick that, at one point, saw Sale 31-9 ahead. Wasps eventually woke up and scored three tries of their own, including one for debutant Willie Le Roux, but they could not catch the Northerners who were well worthy of their victory. In Sunday’s other fixture Newcastle came back from a 15-24 half-time deficit to defeat Northampton Saints 46-31. Sonatane Takulua was the hat trick hero in this match as the scrum half stirred his team mates to victory with three superb tries. Saints did claim a four try bonus point, but will be frustrated at their inability to hold onto their lead.
The transition from rugby league has never been easy. Jason Robinson excepting, there have been few quality players to have made the switch and gain true success. In Denny Solomona Sale Sharks may have found a gem. Signed not long after fellow converted winger Josh Charnley, the former Castleford Tiger player has scored seven tries in five premiership appearances and according to director of rugby, Steve Diamond, “has the world at his feet”. Although earning a Samoan rugby league cap only last year, the 23-year-old will soon become eligible for England and is an outside shout for the Lion’s squad on this form.
A second half capitulation in Newcastle summed up Northampton’s form so far this season. Good in parts, but at the end of the day poor defensively, especially on the road. Champions only three seasons ago, the Saints now find themselves 8th without an away win in six games. Alex Waller felt the need to publicly apologised to the fans- labelling their performance “dreadful”. Flirting with relegation they may not be, but supporters will be frustrated to see a side with names such as George North, Harry Mallinder, Dylan Hartley and Tom Wood languishing in the bottom third of the table.