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Aviva Premiership round 17: England player watch

24 March 2014

  • Saracens out-muscle Harlequins at Wembley
  • Sale Sharks see off Northampton Saints
Joe Simpson carries

Photo: Getty Images

Another gut-wrenching loss for Worcester Warriors began the Aviva Premiership weekend on Friday evening, Dean Ryan’s men going down 13-11 to London Wasps after Jake-Cooper Woolley’s last-minute try and Andy Goode’s conversion.

It was a cruel blow for the West Midlands outfit, who have now suffered 17 straight league reverses this season and 22 overall stretching back to March 1, 2013.

They showed fight throughout against a side containing Joe Launchbury, who marked his return from RBS 6 Nations duty with 12 tackles, three lineout takes and five carries.

Northampton Saints brought big guns Dylan Hartley, Tom Wood, Courtney Lawes, Luther Burrell, Lee Dickson and George North to Sale Sharks on Saturday, but still surrendered top spot following a 19-6 loss.

Khan Fotuali'i

Photo: Getty Images

First-half tries from Mark Cueto, Marc Jones and Tom Brady saw the hosts to victory, Danny Cipriani slotting two conversions and setting up the last of these with an inch-perfect grubber kick.

Elsewhere, exciting England Under 20 wing Zach Kibirige made his first Aviva Premiership start as Newcastle Falcons salvaged two bonus points from a 40-33 defeat to Gloucester Rugby.

He was not among the Falcons’ five tries, but did make 45 metres from nine carries, beating four defenders along the way before sustaining an unfortunate injury. Mike Tindall and Jonny May, who dotted down two minutes after coming on as a replacement, crossed for the Cherry and Whites.

No fewer than 17 England internationals were on show at Wembley Stadium as Saracens cast Harlequins aside 39-17 in front of a world record crowd for a club game of 83,889.

Chris Ashton scores

Photo: Getty Images

Owen Farrell won the official man-of-the-match award after landing 17 points including an interception try. Earlier, Chris Ashton had picked off a Nick Easter pass to go under the posts from 70 metres as well.

While Conor O’Shea opted to rest Chris Robshaw, Mike Brown and Danny Care, Joe Marler was back in action after missing England’s trip to Italy to witness the birth of his son Jasper. The loosehead prop was combative, making five carries.

Even so, Mark McCall’s returned to the summit of the table with five scores – England Saxons lock George Kruis perhaps snatching the pick by rocketing through from 30 metres to cap an outstanding display.

Ed Slater

Photo: Getty Images

George Ford maintained his eye-catching form at the Madejski Stadium later on Saturday, kicking six penalties and three conversions as well as guiding an enterprising Bath Rugby performance.

Kyle Eastmond, Anthony Watson and David Wilson got on the scoresheet, helping Mike Ford’s charges overwhelm London Irish 44-23.

Finally, Sunday saw Leicester Tigers kick into gear by beating Exeter Chiefs 45-15 at Welford Road. Manu Tuilagi notched the first of six tries in a powerful outing, with skipper Ed Slater and scrum half Ben Youngs also excellent throughout.

Junior World Championship-winning pair Henry Slade and Luke Cowan-Dickie – as a late substitute – impressed, but were powerless to prevent a comprehensive home win.