Aviva Premiership - Round 1
Saints set the standard against Chiefs
September 7, 2013
Saracens' Jamie George is congratulated on one of his two tries against Irish © PA Photos
Northampton Saints laid down an impressive marker with a 38-11 victory over Exeter Chiefs in their Aviva Premiership clash at Franklin's Gardens on Saturday.
All eyes were on big summer signing George North, but Saints' tries came from Dylan Hartley, Tom Wood, George and Ken Pisi, and Samu Manoa, with Stephen Myler landing all five conversions and a penalty. Exeter's lineout was poor and they squandered chances, replying only with a Dean Mumm try just before the hour mark and two Gareth Steenson penalties.
Leicester Tigers kicked off their defence of the title with a 32-15 victory over Worcester Warriors at Welford Road on Sunday. Fijian winger Vereniki Goneva clinched a bonus point win for the hosts with a stunning solo try in the final minute of a disappointing start to their campaign. Leicester's other three tries came from Adam Thompstone, David Mele and Jordan Crane but they were way below par for most of the game and had to fight off a spirited second half fightback by Worcester.
Trailing 18-3 at half-time and then 25-3, Worcester scored tries through Chris Jones and Josh Matavesi to put themselves back in the game before Goneva clinched a win which maintained the Tigers 100 per cent record at home to the Warriors.
Sale Sharks upset Gloucester with a 22-16 victory in their clash at Kingsholm on Saturday. Two tries for Sale from wing Mark Cueto and centre Andy Forsyth plus penalties from fly-half Nick MacLeod and full-back Tom Arscott helped seal the Sharks' victory. Replacement Joe Ford added a drop goal towards the end and the gap, opened up during the first period, proved too much for Gloucester to close despite three penalties from outside-half Freddie Burns and a second-half try from centre Henry Trinder.
Saracens opened their account with a commanding 42-20 victory over London Irish in the first game of the tradtional London Double Header at Twickenham. England forwards Mako and Billy Vunipola were influential in their first game together for Saracens, Mako arriving as a try-scoring substitute and Billy rampant throughout. England Under-20 hooker Jamie George, deputising for the suspended Schalk Brits, crossed twice in the first half to help Saracens establish a comprehensive 21-10 half-time that was beyond overwhelmed Irish.
The try-scoring bonus point appeared to have eluded the Premiership title contenders, but the outstretched arm of Chris Ashton delivered the fifth point in the final move of the game. Owen Farrell, commanding throughout, kept the scoreboard ticking over with 22 points to ensure the outcome was never in doubt.
Harlequins notched a narrow 16-15 victory over London Wasps in a dramatic clash at Twickenham. Andy Goode struck an upright with a last-gasp penalty to miss out on the chance of giving Wasps a dramatic victory. The veteran fly-half's effort came back out after England lock Tom Palmer's late try to leave Wasps devastated and Quins celebrating a hard fought, if unimpressive, win.
Karl Dickson appeared to have jumped off the bench to be Quins' try-scoring hero just a few minutes earlier. But, after Nick Evans had converted, Wasps roared up the other end to provide an almost grandstand finish to a match which had failed to live up to expectation and hype for so long
Bath overcame the elements and a determined yet limited Newcastle Falcons to claim a 21-0 win in their opener at Kingston Park on Friday night. George Ford kicked three penalties and a conversion for Bath, with Anthony Perenise crossing the line from a rolling maul and a late penalty try sealing the win, as the home side failed to master the wind and rain in the season's opener.
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