After a tough return to Aviva Premiership Rugby for Bristol Rugby, Mark Tainton was delighted to get over the line with a convincing Anglo-Welsh Cup win over Sale Sharks.
On his debut, Jason Woodward made an immediate impact, scoring after just ten minutes, and they went on to claim a 26-11 victory.
Having helped the Hurricanes to Super Rugby glory in his native New Zealand, Woodward was fastest to Billy Searle’s little grubber through to open the scoring for Bristol.
— Jordan Crane (@JordanCrane86) November 11, 2016
Rhodri Williams and Jack Tovey also went over for Bristol under acting head coach Tainton, and they will be hoping to build on this display when they return to Aviva Premiership action against Bath Rugby at The Rec on Friday.
“We wanted to play a bit of rugby and play with fear. I knew we’d make mistakes, but it’s how we reacted to that,” explained Tainton.
“We met the collisions head-on. The players worked their socks off. We were delighted with our defensive line speed.
“The players can be proud of their performance. The supporters were fantastic, I can’t wait to see how many we’ll take to Bath. Perform like that, and we will keep them coming back.
“We will make mistakes if we try and play football, but it’s a huge boost to get that first win. We have to take that into Bath now.”
Simmonds-inspired Chiefs please Pellow
Exeter Chiefs skills coach Ricky Pellow was a happy man after watching his ‘brave’ side score ten tries in an emphatic 62-25 win over Cardiff Blues.
The hosts put out a number of experienced heads in their side including internationals Tom Johnson and Michele Campagnaro, but the man charged with marshalling the troops was 19-year-old fly-half Joe Simmonds.
— BT Sport Rugby (@btsportrugby) November 13, 2016
The teenager was called in after just ten minutes a week ago when Will Hooley came off injured at Harlequins.
And given a starting role this time, he did not disappoint, kicking six conversions and running the show as Exeter ran riot – something that left Pellow extremely satisfied heading into next week’s Aviva Premiership Rugby clash with Newcastle Falcons.
“It was really pleasing, the guys fought really hard,” he said.
“But we managed to rip the game away from them and we are really pleased with how the guys stuck at it, the physicality we showed to get a stranglehold on the game.
“We talked about being brave and playing rugby but it has got to be based around good decisions and we tried to run it when it wasn’t on and put us under pressure.”
Clare Daniels, meanwhile, made history in the game, becoming the first female assistant referee in the Anglo-Welsh Cup.
Daniels had already become the first fourth official in Premiership Rugby history earlier this season, and broke ground once more as she ran the line in Exeter.
Robson runs riot for Wasps
Lee Blackett singled out experienced heads Thomas Young and Tom Cruse as Wasps turned in a superb performance to dominate Worcester Warriors 62-10 at the Ricoh Arena.
Wasps backs coach also watched scrum-half Dan Robson grab a second-half try double before 18-year-old Jacob Umaga – nephew of All Blacks legend Tana – also grabbed a brace.
Dai Young’s side led 19-10 at the break, but ran away with it in the second half, romping to a 62-10 win.
Robson made the most of the space afforded to him, scoring two tries and making three more in an electric display.
— Dan Robson (@d_jrobson) November 13, 2016
But it was Cruse and Young – who both crossed – that particularly impressed Blackett.
“The competition is great as it gives younger guys a chance, and also some of those who haven’t had much game-time recently did really well out there,” he said.
“Thomas Young and Tom Cruse were the two outstanding forwards in the first half, and they both really showed why they have played so much Premiership rugby this year.
“At half-time we said we were a little bit too tightly spaced defensively, and that we needed to be more direct in attack.
“We also took our chances in the second half when we made breaks, and finished off the opportunities.”
Quins on the double
— Harlequins (@Harlequins) November 12, 2016
On Friday night Harlequins made it two from two in the Anglo-Welsh Cup, but were pushed hard by the Ospreys in Swansea as they eventually ran out 15-12 winners.
It was a special night for veteran Wales prop Adam Jones, who returned to the region where he had spent so much of his career.
And he came away with a win, as Quins edged it 15-12 thanks to a strong finish to the game.
Charlie Matthews’ try had drawn them level on the hour, and it fell to Tim Swiel to seal the deal with a late penalty.
Midlands rivals on a roll
As well as Quins, two more sides have won both of their opening games, East Midlands rivals Leicester Tigers and Northampton Saints.
The Tigers were dominant as they beat Newport Gwent Dragons 42-3 at Welford Road, with Adam Thompstone running in two tries.
— Leicester Tigers (@LeicesterTigers) November 12, 2016
They scored six tries in all to lead the way in Pool 4, while Northampton were made to work much harder against Gloucester Rugby.
A young Saints side looked to be in control as they led 19-3 heading into the final quarter thanks to some good goal-kicking from Sam Olver.
However two late Gloucester tries left Saints hanging on, but they did just that to take control of Pool 1.
Reigning champions Saracens recovered from defeat to the Cherry and Whites last time out to beat Newcastle Falcons 29-18, while Bath Rugby suffered just their second loss under Todd Blackadder as they fell to an in-form Scarlets side 44-21 at Parc y Scarlets.
For full details of the tournament and tickets for the Final at the Twickenham Stoop on Sunday 19 March see www.new-heroes.com