Which players hit the heights in round four of the Aviva Premiership and Guinness Pro12 and who made the costliest errors?
One scored, one saved
Dominic Waldouck scored a try at one end of the pitch and saved one at the other as Newcastle won away from home in the Aviva Premiership for the first time since October 2014. The Falcons beat Gloucester 18-13 at Kingsholm and it was Waldouck’s ninth-minute try which set them on their way, as he capitalised when Gloucester scrum-half Willi Heinz was caught in possession and turned over.
Halfway through the first half, with the score at 7-7, Gloucester were attacking and Mark Atkinson seemed set to score their second try but Waldouck hauled him down short of the line. Billy Burns kicked a penalty from the resulting breakdown, but if Newcastle had conceded that try they would have found it much tougher to recover.
Jackson scores a scorcher
Paddy Jackson scored what is being touted as an early contender for Guinness Pro12 Try of the Season and helped Ulster beat Glasgow Warriors 22-17 at Scotstoun.
It was only Glasgow’s second Pro12 defeat at home since November 2013 and they had been leading 17-15 as the final quarter began and Jackson struck.
Ulster turned over the ball in their own 22, Louis Ludik made a jinking break, Ruan Pienaar shipped the ball swiftly on to Darren Cave and he passed it on to Jackson, who slid over the line despite the efforts of the defenders, then converted his own try.
Alun Wyn Jones made his 200th appearance for the Ospreys on Friday evening but didn’t have a win to celebrate as Leinster beat them 31-19 at the RDS. Jones made his usual terrific contribution to the game with 13 tackles and eight carries, but Leinster were too good for the Ospreys on the day, building up a 31-0 lead with powerful and dynamic rugby. Johnny Sexton scored a try on his first appearance of the season, as well as kicking 11 points, while Man of the Match Josh van der Flier scored two tries.
Dan Biggar produced a moment of magic for the Ospreys, passing behind his own back to Ashley Beck to change the point of attack and engineer a try for Ben John, then Sam Davies, playing at full-back, created the Ospreys’ final try for James King with a fine break and dummy.
Grubber and grab
Danny Cipriani produced one of his magic moments to set up a try for Jimmy Gopperth during Wasps’ 20-15 win over Northampton at Franklin’s Gardens.
The fly-half put in a delicate grubber kick to get behind the Saints’ defence, gathered the ball then offloaded out of the tackle to Guy Thompson, who scorched up the pitch before giving the scoring pass to Gopperth.
Mike Ellery did the same thing for Saracens as they fought back from 17-0 down at Harlequins and created a try for Richard Wigglesworth early in the second half, but it wasn’t enough for Sarries to overhaul the hosts.
Just Williams, again
One week we will have a Saints and Sinners that doesn’t feature Liam Williams – but this isn’t it, as the Scarlets wing scored two tries to take his side to their first league win of the season, a 17-8 victory over Connacht.
A Sinner two weeks ago for conceding a couple of tries, Williams has more than made up for it since then and was a Saint last week as well as this. For his first try against Connacht Williams finished off a good move, taking a scoring pass from Jonathan Davies who received man and ball at the same time but managed to ship a pass to his wing in the blink of an eye.
Williams’ second try came after he received the ball from the back of a five-metre scrum and powered through the tackle of Caolin Blade to score in the corner.
Harlequins fly-half Tim Swiel produced a pass Dan Carter would be proud of to set up a try for Charlie Walker, which proved decisive in their Aviva Premiership win over Saracens.
The 23-year-old No 10 flung out a huge pass across the defence inside the 22, taking a couple of Saracens out of the game and creating an overlap. Tim Visser and Mike Brown shipped the ball on quickly, with Brown pausing just long enough to draw a couple of defenders, and Walker was on hand to score in the corner.
Edwards leads the way
Bristol had a tough task this week as they tried to recover from last week’s 70-22 hammering by Wasps, but with Exeter Chiefs the visitors to Ashton Gate, they were up against another classy side.
They went 14-0 down with two tries by Olly Woodburn but scored a try of their own on 20 minutes thanks to the speed and confidence of right wing Ryan Edwards.
He received the ball in his own half and decided to back himself to beat the Chiefs defence, scorched past Lachlan Turner on the outside and put Jordan Williams over for the try.
Exeter soon extended their lead but Bristol still didn’t lay down and hooker Ross McMillan and his replacement Max Crumpton used their power to grab a try apiece to make the final score a more respectable 34-17.
Six of the best
Leicester Tigers achieved a convincing 34-14 win over the previously unbeaten Bath, thanks to what DoR Richard Cockerill called a “proper” Leicester Tigers performance.
There were plenty of standout performers in his side, but the Man of the Match was blindside Mike Williams, who stole a lineout from Dave Attwood in the 14th minute to set the Tigers on an attack which resulted in a try for Brendan O’Connor. The No 6 made seven carries during the match and was at the heart of Leicester’s excellent forward play throughout.
Donncha O’Callaghan made a try-saving tackle for Worcester which actually brought about a ten-point turnaround in their extraordinary 34-34 draw with Sale Sharks, as the Warriors scored an unconverted try at the other end soon afterwards.
The Irish lock brought Dave Seymour down as he dived for the line in the left-hand corner and forced the wing to spill the ball. Worcester repelled the Sale attack from a subsequent penalty, then Cooper Vuna broke out of defence and full-back Jamie Shillcock scored in the opposite corner to give the Warriors a 31-17 lead with 29 minutes to go.
Uneven playing field
The powers that be in the Guinness Pro12 need to correct an imbalance in their competition and ensure that all matches have the benefit of a Television Match Official. Neither of the games hosted in Italy had one this weekend and the Dragons were aggrieved that Treviso’s opening try against them was awarded to Tommaso Benvenutti as the Welsh side felt Tyler Morgan grounded the loose ball in the in-goal area before he did. Treviso went on to win the game 27-11.
All teams must play in the same circumstances when they are competing in the same competition so TMOs have to be provided in Italy, just as they are in Ireland, Wales and Scotland.
Sam slips up
Edinburgh scrum-half Sam Hidalgo-Clyne gifted Munster a 37th minute try with a sloppy piece of play in the shadow of his own posts and enabled the Irish side to go into half-time 14-7 up.
He received the ball in his in-goal area as Edinburgh tried to survive a spell of Munster pressure and he was forced to knock-on beside the posts, allowing hooker Niall Scannell to push the ball back for Conor Murray to pick up and score. From there, Munster kicked on to win this Guinness Pro12 match 28-14 with their pack totally dominating the Edinburgh eight.
Rhys Webb – usually a try-maker and scorer extraordinaire – butchered a chance for the Ospreys when they were already 31-0 down to Leinster on Friday evening. Josh Matavesi made a terrific break from halfway and passed to Webb on the 22. The scrum-half just needed to catch the ball and run to the line, but he took his eyes off the ball at the crucial moment and dropped it.
Northampton made a number of errors as they chased the game against Wasps and Courtney Lawes was guilty of wasting a try-scoring opportunity in the 69th minute when the Saints trailed 13-5. They were attacking strongly and Lawes had the line at his mercy when he dropped a pass from Steve Myler. The pass wasn’t the best – slightly behind Lawes – but the England lock would have hoped to do better.
Another forward – Cardiff Blues’ Nick Williams – helped to cost his team a try by fumbling in defence. The No 8 spilled a pass five metres from his own line when the Blues were 23-16 up in the closing minutes of their game at Zebre, the Italians shipped the ball left, Matthew Morgan missed an opportunity to tidy it up and Giovanbattista Venditti scored in the corner. Edoardo Padovani needed to kick the difficult conversion to give Zebre a draw but he missed.
Alex Losowski has made a stunning start to the season for Saracens, slotting in at No 10 in the absence of Owen Farrell and proving a match-winner. However, he made a couple of errors in this weekend’s 17-10 loss to Harlequins, starting when his pass to Alex Goode in the fifth minute was intercepted by Tim Visser and the wing raced 50 metres to score the game’s first try.
Saracens were 17-0 down at half-time but a Richard Wigglesworth try and Losowski conversion made it 17-7, however the No 10 then missed two penalties which could have really given Harlequins the jitters and the home side held on to win.