LV= Anglo-Welsh Cup
Saints thrash Gloucester
November 9, 2013
Ken Pisi leaves a defender in his wake as he crosses the whitewash © Getty Images
Northampton Saints opened up their LV= Cup campaign with a thumping 33-6 victory over Premiership rivals Gloucester at Franklin's Gardens.
The Saints stayed true to the Premiership form book, hammering a struggling Gloucester outfit and demonstrating that they are keen to replicate their early league form in the domestic competition.
Ken Pisi crossed twice in eight first-half minutes to put the Saints in control after Glenn Dickson and Freddie Burns had each exchanged two penalties each. The home side looked good for their 18-6 lead but had to wait patiently to put the game to bed after the interval, with Dickson's 53rd-minute penalty the only notable action until the final ten minutes.
Their 21-6 lead still seemed fragile as the game neared its conclusion but the Saints put the game beyond all doubt when replacement Alex Day went over twice in quick succession to put the gloss on the scoreline in a thoroughly one-sided encounter.
In the other all-Premiership encounter Exeter Chiefs eased past Harlequins 19-5 at Sandy Park as Sireli Naqelevuki grabbed the decisive try.
Paul Sackey had given Quins the perfect start just four minutes in but it would prove to be the only time they troubled the score board as Chiefs took control of the game, and went in leading 6-5 at half-time thanks to a pair of Ceri Sweeney kicks. Sweeney was enjoying a memorable debut and added another shortly after the break before Naqelevuki stormed through a static Quins backline to score just before the hour mark.
Worcester Warriors lifted a great weight from the shoulders of rugby director Dean Ryan with a first victory of the season as they beat Cardiff Blues 24-21 at the Arms Park.
Sale and Bath pack down © Getty Images
Worcester answered Cardiff's early pair of penalties with a try from prop Rob O'Donnell, who rumbled over for Ignacio Mieres to convert. The Warriors pack were establishing their supremacy, O'Donnell prominent in tight and loose, and it was another charge by the prop that allowed scrum-half and skipper Paul Hodgson to feed flying right wing James Stephenson.
The former Bedford man marked his first start for the Warriors by jinking inside and skinning the Blues defence to reach the posts and make the conversion simple for Mieres.
Things went from bad to worse for the Blues, with Davies limping off to be replaced by debutant Simon Humberstone, before visiting centre Max Stelling raced in for a superb individual score, again improved by Mieres.
Cardiff Blues struck first in the second-half as scrum-half Lewis Jones caught Hodgson in possession at the base of the scrum and flanker Thomas Young dashed under the posts for Humberstone to cut the deficit to eight points. The novice fly-half followed up with a penalty but Worcester held firm for a morale-boosting win.
Leicester got their season back on track with a convincing 39-16 victory over the Ospreys at Welford Road.
The 2012 champions' win over the 2008 winners was their first in six matches in all competitions and owed much to the boot of 21-year-old Welsh fly-half Owen Williams, who scored 19 points, kicking five penalties and two conversions. The Tigers scored four tries through Thomas Waldrom, Sam Harrison, Harry Wells, and Michael Noone, while Sam Williams got the Ospreys' only try and fly-half Sam Davies kicked 11 points.
The Ospreys, who have never won in England since beating Leicester in the 2008 final, lost captain Lloyd Peers to the sin-bin in the second half.
Saracens' Jackson Wray takes the ball into contact against Wasps © Getty Images
Dave Attwood scored a dramatic last-minute try as Bath opened their campaign with a 27-20 victory over Sale Sharks at the AJ Bell Stadium.
Both teams chose to field weakened sides for this encounter and that lack of continuity was evident in the opening half. They went into the break level at 10-10 with Michael Paterson and Joe Ford scoring for Sale and Anthony Perenise and Tom Heathcote responding for the West Country outfit.
Heathcote added a second three-pointer after the break before Matt Banahan touched down for what appeared to be the game-winning try. But the hosts then hit back through Nick Macleod's penalty and Mike Haley's try before Attwood was the hero for Bath when he scampered clear.
Saracens began their campaign with a nerve-racking 24-21 bonus point victory over north London rivals Wasps.
The first 25 minutes were an even contest before Saracens hit their opponents with 24 unanswered points to lead 24-7 with only 17 minutes remaining. During that period Saracens hit Wasps with four tries through Ben Ransom, Nick Tompkins, Richard Barrington and Jack Wilson with Ben Spencer converting two.
However, Spencer did miss four kicks which would have put Saracens out of sight. Wasps staged a major rally, scoring tries through replacements Neil Cochrane and Ben Jacobs to add to a first half effort from Matt Everard but they just came up short.
A strong second half from the Scarlets was enough to see off Welsh rivals Newport Gwent Dragons 21-13 in a derby at Parc y Scarlets.
Treis from skipper Rob McCusker and rookie wing Chris Knight were the telling scores in the space of five minutes in the final quarter. Dragons outside-half Kris Burton did get a try back but it was too late for the visitors.
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