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Aviva Premiership round four: England player watch

30 September 2013

  • Dickson and Burrell score as Saints beat Sale convincingly
  • George Ford directs Bath Rugby to defeat of London Irish
Lee Dickson on the run

Photo: Getty Images

Franklin’s Gardens was the scene as round four of the Aviva Premiership got underway on Friday evening, Northampton Saints recording an assured 33-14 defeat of Sale Sharks to reinforce their title credentials.

Skipper Dylan Hartley set the standards at the set-piece, where his team won 14 lineouts from 14 to ensure Lee Dickson enjoyed his night with a quality platform. The busy scrum half grabbed one of Northampton’s five tries and set up another for George Pisi, while centre Luther Burrell continued his fine early-season form by bustling over in the first half.

Saturday’s London derby between Harlequins and Saracens at the Twickenham Stoop pitted a plethora of England regulars against each other. After a hard-fought affair, Owen Farrell took the headlines thanks to a 17-point haul and a sharp break that led to Chris Ashton’s decisive score.

Chris Robshaw makes a tackle

Photo: Getty Images

Despite suffering a 22-12 reverse, home skipper Chris Robshaw was industrious as ever – topping the tackle-count across both sides with 14 – and full back Mike Brown beat seven defenders. However, the visiting pack – driven by the Vunipola brothers Mako and Billy, who racked up a combined total of 20 carries – were ultimately too powerful.

Elsewhere on Saturday, Saxons EPS member George Ford directed a 33-18 victory for Bath Rugby over London Irish with 13 points including an excellent solo try from 60 metres out. Reacquainting himself in midfield with fit-again Kyle Eastmond, Jonathan Joseph had earlier dotted down against his former employers.

Joe Launchbury and Christian Wade were prominent as London Wasps recorded their first triumph of the campaign at Adams Park. Lock Launchbury made 20 tackles, while Wade scorched onto a grubber kick from Charlie Davies for a five-pointer just after half time that took the game away from Worcester Warriors to set up a 32-16 result.

Sunday saw Leicester Tigers visit Sandy Park and the Youngs brothers got the champions off to a fine start, Tom breaking down the blindside off the back of a rolling maul to feed Ben, who muscled over from close range.

Ben Morgan

Photo: Getty Images

Having moved into a 15-0 lead at the break though, the East Midlands outfit could never quite shake Rob Baxter’s resilient Exeter Chiefs. Tom Johnson got through a huge amount of work in attack and defence, marrying eight tackles with 10 carries, while England Under 20 Junior World Championship-winner Sam Hill looked sparky at inside centre, beating four defenders.

In the end, Tigers’ 21-9 result was built on 11 points from Toby Flood and some uncompromising effort from their forwards, Dan Cole at the forefront of that with eight tackles of his own.

Freddie Burns’ late penalty sealed an important win for Gloucester Rugby up at Kingston Park to complete the weekend after wing Jonny May’s try had helped overturn a Newcastle Falcons’ 13-8 half-time lead.

Ben Morgan and Matt Kvesic were impressive in the Cherry and Whites back row, the former carrying for 44 metres from No.8. Even so, Dean Richards’ men were back level on the hour mark and Burns’ boot was needed to secure the 22-16 triumph.