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Aviva A League round-up: Round 1

Exeter Braves coach Ricky Pellow is already eyeing up Bath United next week after his side slipped to a narrow defeat at the hands of Aviva A League champions Saracens Storm.

Storm got their title defence up and running with a 25-20 triumph at Sandy Park on Monday night, with the help of tries from Mike Ellery, Nathan Earle and Tom Whiteley.

Sam Simmonds and Byron McGuigan each dotted down from the Braves but Saracens ground out the result to secure a winning start to the competition.

Next week they will host London Irish, while Exeter visit the Rec to face 2013 Aviva A League champions Bath.

“Some of these guys haven’t played since pre-season you have to remember,” said Pellow. “It was very pleasing. Now we go to Bath next week, so we have to regroup, go again and look to make a few improvements from this week.

“I thought Kai Horstmann was outstanding. He’s one of the senior players at the club and what you know you’ll always get with him is that he will always work hard. He makes the right decisions at the right time and when we had difficult periods in the game, he came through with real credit.

“Also, Chrysander Botha played well at the back. He made a couple of clinical breaks and he was strong in back field as well.

“At the same time, I thought our scrum was very good and it was a shame we didn’t always get the rewards from the referee.”

Elsewhere, Harlequins scored 28 unanswered second-half points at Braywick Road to overturn a hefty deficit and beat Wasps 38-28.

Tim Swiel and Owen Evans dotted down in the first half for Harlequins but four Wasps scores – including a double for Alex Rieder – put the hosts 28-10 up early in the second half.

However, they flew back into the contest and scores from Ollie Lindsay-Hague and Seb Adeniran-Olule – plus a penalty try – secured maximum points.

There were plenty of big names on show, including England Saxons lock Graham Kitchener and a fit-again Henry Trinder, when Gloucester United beat Leicester Tigers 31-18.

Nick Wood, David Halaifonua and Lewis Ludlow each crossed over before the break as the Cherry & Whites built up an early lead and never looked back.

Northampton Wanderers edged past Newcastle Falcons 24-20 as Tom Collins crossed for a second-half try double.

Luke Eves scored for the Wanderers, while Andy Tuilagi and Belisario Agulla hit back, but Collins made the decisive contribution and Northampton back-row Sion Bennett is eyeing up a fruitful Aviva A League campaign.

“All of the boys have sat down and we’ve said that we think we can win this ‘A’ League,” said Bennett, “We know that we’ve come close in the last few years so it’s definitely a target to do better this year.

“It was nice playing in front of this crowd for the first time and hopefully we’ll carry this form onto next week and Gloucester.”

And Bristol United made a winning start at the expense of London Irish, winning 24-14 on home soil.

James Stephenson and Auguy Slowik touched down either side of half time, while Callum Sheedy added eight points from the tee, to ensure tries from Connor Murphy and Jimmy Stevens were not enough for the Exiles.
 

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