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Aviva Premiership round nine: England player watch

02 December 2013

  • Toby Flood kicks Leicester to hard-fought win over Gloucester
  • Danny Care crosses for Harlequins at Kingston Park
Dan Cole

Photo: Getty Images

Two fly halves in England’s EPS went head-to-head on Friday evening at Kingsholm, with Toby Flood’s Leicester Tigers eventually edging Freddie Burns and Gloucester Rugby 22-17 thanks to a second-half resurgence from their gnarled forward pack.

Tight head Dan Cole was at the forefront of that over an extremely influential 80-minute shift, marrying set-piece strength with hard work in the loose. Seven tackles, eight carries and a 100 per cent return from 12 lineouts demonstrated Tom Youngs’ typical industry too.

But it was the tussle at 10 that was the most intriguing. Burns made the early running, picking off a pass from Flood and cantering in under the posts to open the scoring. However, the Tigers skipper kicked 17 points and laid on a try for Dan Bowden with a sumptuous off-load.

While Jonny May notched an excellent opportunistic score and Ben Morgan and Matt Kvesic toiled around the field, it was enough to ensure the visitors took the four points.

Two-cap international Topsy Ojo celebrated his 200th for London Irish the next day, but could not prevent the Exiles going down 19-12 at home to cross-capital rivals Wasps. Joe Launchbury and James Haskell – who started at blindside flanker for the visitors – made 29 tackles between them without missing a single one.

George Kruis

Photo: Getty Images

Bath Rugby and Exeter Chiefs played out a fast-past encounter in the West Country, George Ford’s six penalties and a drop-goal proving enough to down Rob Baxter’s charges 21-16. Junior World Championship-winner Jack Nowell impressed for Exeter though, one early break showcasing his exceptional pace.

Elsewhere, Danny Cipriani put in an impressive performance to bring Sale Sharks to the brink of an unlikely defeat of Saracens, adding a drop-goal and a penalty to his first-half try and conversion. However, the Aviva Premiership leaders ground out a 24-19 victory – a late score from Saxon George Kruis proving decisive.

Skippered by returning Dylan Hartley, Northampton Saints kept up the pressure in second place, condemning Worcester Warriors to a ninth-straight loss. Tom Wood capped an all-action display with one of three tries to add to 18 points from the boot Stephen Myler.

England captain Chris Robshaw was rested for Harlequins trip to Newcastle Falcons on Sunday, but Joe Marler and Danny Care started and brought Conor O’Shea’s men back into the play-off places by delivering a 35-9 triumph.

Care, seemingly intent on forcing his way back into the reckoning for the RBS 6 Nations, put the 2012 champions on the way to a bonus-point with a trademark short-range dart just before the hour mark.