The LV= Cup enters Round Two with some familiar faces back
The LV= Cup entered round two with a lot of players coming back from the Rugby World Cup going into their club sides after a rest. Clubs possibly used the match as a warm-up ahead of the forthcoming domestic matches and then the Heineken Cup in the middle of November. Needless to say we had some entertaining games this weekend.
Pool 1 vs Pool 4
It needed a second half comeback but Northampton managed a 32-22 bonus point win over Ospreys on Saturday evening. With their England internationals starting it should have been a comfortable win for Northampton but the young Ospreys side put up a good fight as they led 19-10 at the break after being reduced to 14 men twice in 40 minutes. The Saints’ experience showed in the second half as their powerful pack was just too strong for the Ospreys. Dylan Hartley went over for two tries and Calum Clark’s secured the bonus point, following their first half effort from Vasily Artemyev. Ospreys fly-half Matthew Morgan kept their half of the scoreboard going over after Sonny Parker’s first half intercept try but the losing bonus point was lost as well thanks to the boot of Stephen Myler.
Francois Louw put in a man of the match debut performance as Bath beat Worcester 46-13 on Saturday. The home side scored seven tries, equalling their efforts of last weekend against the Dragons. It was Worcester who took the early lead with a pair of penalties from Joe Carlisle but then the try scoring began as Louw, Matt Banahan and Nick Abendanon all touched down during the match. Fly-half Tom Heathcote continued to fill the boots of Sam Vesty with 16 points in what was a very easy victory for Bath.
Saracens put in a convincing display as they beat Exeter 43-20 at Vicarage Road on Sunday. It was fly-half Owen Farrell who led the way scoring 28 points, with 23 of them coming from the boot. It appeared that attack was the way Saracens wanted to play, as they didn’t want to make it two losses from two in the competition. Tries from Adam Powell, Joe Maddock, Hugh Vyvyan and Farrell secured the bonus point for the current Aviva Premiership champions, as they just didn’t look like losing. To give credit to Exeter they didn’t give up, scoring tries through Chris Bentley and Miles Dorrian as Gareth Steenson kicked 10 points.
Wasps v Dragons
The Dragons left Adams Park with victory courtesy of a last minute penalty from Steffan Jones as they beat Wasps 29-30. Wasps led the way in the try count as they scored four through John Hart, Tom Varndell, Ross Filipo and Joe Simpson, but it was the boot of Jones that proved vital as he kept the Dragons in the game. Phil Price and 17-year-old Hallam Amos scored tries for the away side but the winning penalty came after Hugo Southwell was sin binned for a late tackle on winger Mike Poole. Wasps managed to get two points from defeat but will be regretting the mistake that cost them from all five.
Pool 2 vs Pool 3
Leicester briefly moved to the top of Pool 2 with an emphatic 40-14 bonus point win against Gloucester on Friday night. The Tigers were boosted with the return of international players such as Geordan Murphy, Tom Croft and Marcos Ayerza, while the Cherry and Whites also put out a strong side. It was the home side who started strongest through two penalties from Toby Flood but Gloucester started off the try count as prop Dan Murphy capitalised on charged down ball to get over the line. It was all Leicester from then on as England internationals Dan Cole and Manu Tuilagi scored before the break, followed by one from centre-cum-hooker Tom Youngs shortly after half time to secure a first home victory of the season for the Tigers. Lesley Vainikolo added a scrappy second try for Gloucester, but Horacio Agulla’s sprint 2 minutes from full time gave Leicester the bonus point and the top spot in the pool.
When Harlequins and Sale played each other earlier in the season there was nearly 100 points scored in total. This wasn’t to be on Friday night as Quins kept up their unbeaten record with a 37-25 win at Edgeley Park. It was a night for the wingers as Mark Cueto made his first start of the season for Sale, while Quins flyer Seb Stegmann scored a hat trick of tries. The first half was all about the trading of tries, as Stegmann scored his first, along with full back Tom Williams, only for the Sharks to come back through Will Addison and Alasdair Dickinson to give the home side a 15-14 lead. The match remained close until the hour mark when Quins then grabbed victory through a pair of penalties from Rory Clegg and Stegmann’s hat trick try.
London Irish moved top of Pool 2 on Sunday afternoon as they ran a 39-23 bonus point win at home to Newcastle. England centre Shontayne Hape made his debut for the Exiles following his summer move from Bath as they also welcomed back Delon Armitage. It was the visitors who opened the lead through centre Jamie Helleur but after that it was all Irish after that as Jonathan Joseph put Adam Thompstone in for the first of his two tries. Steve Shingler kept the scoreboard going over for the home side as indiscipline started to creep into Newcastle’s game. The Falcons took the lead early on in the second half through a try from Greg Goosen and conversion and penalty from Jeremy Manning but following that Irish took the momentum and the game as tries from Armitage and Thompstone gave them victory.
In the all-Welsh clash of the weekend, Scarlets kept up their good run of form as they won 30-3 at Cardiff to go top of Pool 3. Tries from Adam Warren, Kirby Myhill in the first half, and Richie Pugh and Kieron Murphy in the second gave the Scarlets that all important bonus point win. Like in last week’s game against Newcastle, Cardiff could only reply through a Rhys Patchell penalty. The Scarlets will be hoping that this form will continue into the next two rounds of RaboDirect Pro12 matches, while the Blues will be happy to have their Welsh international players back next weekend to bolster the squad.
Try of the Weekend goes to Horacio Agulla of Leicester. It was Manu Tuilagi who created the try late on in the match, as he put in Agulla for a 30 metre sprint right under the posts
This weekend’s Hero is Saracens’ Owen Farrell . The 19-year-old continues to impress as he makes the fly-half’s job look easy. Scoring 28 points in their win over Exeter is only half of the story as his expert kicking to touch laid the foundations for the opening tries of the game.
The Villain for the weekend is Wasps’Hugo Southwell. It was his late tackle on Mike Poole that not only sent him to the sin bin but it gave the Dragons the penalty that won the match for them. The experienced full back should really know better.