Guinness Premiership Round-up
Tigers upset leaders Gloucester
March 8, 2009

Leicester notched a 24-10 victory over Guinness Premiership leaders Gloucester to move into second place in the table.

Scrum-half Julien Dupuy kicked Leicester to victory with seven penalties to deny the visitors a second successive win at Welford Road. The Frenchman punished Gloucester for an undisciplined display, which included the sin-binning of scrum-half Rory Lawson and lock Alex Brown, with fullback Geordan Murphy putting the seal on victory by slotting a spectacular late drop goal from inside his own half.

Despite dominating for long periods Leicester could not breach a solid Gloucester defence but they did have two tries disallowed. Tom Croft's was wiped out for a forward pass and Marco Wentzel's for a foot in touch. The only try of the match was an interception effort scored by Gloucester's former England winger Iain Balshaw but the leaders, who struggled in the set pieces, were well beaten.

Leicester's acting head coach Richard Cockerill heaped praise on Dupuy following the game, saying, "He was outstanding today, he's been the signing of the season in the Premiership and he should be in the French side."

Bath heaped more woe on lowly Bristol with a thumping 45-8 victory. The hosts notched six tries in one of the most one-sided local derbies seen at The Rec in recent years. Fullback Joe Maddock and centre Alex Crockett both grabbed a brace with the other scores coming courtesy of replacement Daniel Browne and a penalty try. Fly-half Butch James kicked six conversions and a penalty for a personal tally of 15 points.

Bristol, who are now 12 points adrift at the bottom of the table, offered some early resistance with a try from wing Lee Robinson and a penalty from Ed Barnes. Robinson's late yellow card for an illegal tackle on Bemand completed a miserable afternoon for the visitors having already had Haydn Thomas sent to the sin-bin earlier in the game.

Despite the prospect of National League One rugby next year, coach Paul Hull remained positive after the game. "We'll control what we can control," he said. "It's the start of a new dawn. It looks like we might not be playing in the Premiership but the nucleus is there with the seven signings we made this week."

Northampton recorded their first Premiership away win for more than two years after seeing off Worcester 22-12 at Sixways. The Saints made it 13th time lucky on the road, ending a run that began before they were relegated to National League One in 2007.

After surrendering a long unbeaten home record to Newcastle last weekend, Northampton responded in impressive fashion. First-half tries by flanker Scott Gray and wing Paul Diggin put Saints in the driving seat. And with fly-half Barry Everitt calling the tune Worcester could not establish a foothold and trailed by 12 points at half-time. Warriors goalkicker Willie Walker, on loan from neighbours Gloucester until the end of this season, booted four penalties, his last kick going over after Scotland international Gray was sin-binned.

Northampton though, were not to be denied as they climbed above reigning Premiership champions Wasps into eighth place. Substitute centre Joe Ansbro's late converted try confirmed Saints' success, and Worcester could have few complaints after a poor game when they rarely moved out of second gear.

"It is a relief - a monkey off our back," commented Saints boss Jim Mallinder.

Elsewhere, Harlequins accounted for Saracens with a 21-15 victory at the Twickenham Stoop.

Scrum-half Danny Care did his best to show England manager Martin Johnson why he should keep faith with him by serving up a match-winning performance. Care, under pressure for his England place after being sin-binned when he came off the bench against Ireland last week, provided the spark which led to Quins' first try for prop Ceri Jones and scored a brilliant second to seal victory.

Fly-half Nick Evans added three penalties and a conversion despite not having his best day with the boot, missing three penalty attempts and the second conversion. But livewire Care had the final say, grabbing the ball from the back of a ruck and bursting down the left touchline to score in the corner. Saracens, still battling despite the announcements that director of rugby Eddie Jones and 15 players will be leaving at the end of the season, replied with tries from flanker Wilkus van Heerden and winger Richard Haughton.

Fly-half Glen Jackson, the Premiership's leading points scorer, took his tally for the season to 201 with a penalty and a conversion as his side pushed Quins all the way.

Harlequins director of rugby Dean Richards has no intention of trying to restrain his combative scrum-half. "You have to understand the nature of the beast," said Richards. "He's a cheeky guy and he enjoys having a go. He's always going to attack the fringes, he's always going to have a go and there's no way that I would want to - or try to - inhibit his nature or his character."

On Sunday, Charlie Hodgson became the highest points scorer in Premiership history as Sale Sharks lost 32-25 to Newcastle Falcons at Edgeley Park.

Record breaker Hodgson kicked 20 points on the day as he surpassed Jonny Wilkinson's record haul of 1489 to move to 1492 points but it was Newcastle who stole the show with a 78th minute penalty setting the seal on their fifth win a row. Despite Sale establishing a commanding 13-point lead after eight minutes through a Neil Briggs try, Newcastle hit back with tries from Jon Golding, Danny Williams, Andrew Fenby and Brent Wilson to earn their third successive away victory.

Falcons director of rugby Steve Bates was delighted with the way his players battled back. "They are a great bunch of guys and deserve this for the tough and hard work and maybe bit of criticism they received early in the season. We had to restructure our game, it took longer than planned, but we are benefiting from it now."


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