- Cipriani stars in Sale Sharks' win over Bath Rugby
- Leicester and Northampton share spoils in tense East Midlands derby
Photo: Getty Images
Sale Sharks fly half Danny Cipriani made the weekend’s opening Aviva Premiership fixture his own, kicking 14 points on Friday night to condemn Bath Rugby to a 19-12 defeat in Salford.
Having been an outspoken critic of Cipriani’s defensive lapses in the past, Steve Diamond will have also been hugely impressed with the seven-time England international’s tally of 10 tackles without any missed; including one superb try-saving challenge to deny Bath’s Alafoti Fa'osiliva.
Welford Road saw the most anticipated tie of the round on Saturday afternoon – a mouth-watering East Midlands derby between Leicester Tigers and Northampton Saints that delivered the same intensity as last season’s final.
Saxons stand off Stephen Myler and his opposite number Toby Flood were on target to collect four penalties and a conversion each – Saints having gone ahead in the second half through Alex Corbisiero’s short-range try before the hosts responded when Ed Slater crashed over late on to secure the 19-19 draw.
In a fierce physical clash, Courtney Lawes imposing throughout, while Dylan Hartley and Tom Youngs enjoyed a fascinating tussle around the park. Hartley made five carries, with Youngs racking up 10 tackles thanks to some typical industry.
At Allianz Park, Alex Goode started in the Saracens’ number 10 jersey and kicked the league leaders into a 3-0 half-time lead over London Wasps. He then reverted to full back when Owen Farrell entered the fray, from where he laid on his side’s only try of the match through Will Fraser.
Although Christian Wade’s electric feet brought him an impressive 90 running metres and beat three defenders, 11 points from Farrell’s tee were enough to secure Saracens a 19-12 win.
The second cross-capital encounter of the day pitted Harlequins against London Irish at the Madejski Stadium, where a slick moment of skill from two-cap Englishman Topsy Ojo created a fine match-winning try for Alex Lewington to oust the 2012 champions.
Ojo’s perfectly-weighted cross-kick found the young wing in space and a sparky finish put the Exiles into an 18-6 lead. Though Danny Care set up a frantic final 10 minutes by dashing down the blindside for an opportunistic try, Irish held on.
Worcester Warriors could not prevent their poor start extending to five winless games at Sixways, Newcastle Falcons raiding the West Midlands for what could be a crucial 16-11 victory after Scotland stalwart Mike Blair had gone over in the opening minutes.
Another all-action showing from flanker Tom Johnson was a feature of a 29-12 triumph for Exeter Chiefs over Gloucester Rugby at Kingsholm, the former Sandy Park skipper packing 10 carries into his Sunday afternoon.
Jonny May added verve to the Cherry and Whites’ effort when he came off the bench and grabbed an eye-catching consolation try, but Rob Baxter’s men were very good value for an impressive win on the road.