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Aviva Premiership Rugby wrap: Round 1

Tom Coventry may have failed to kick off his regime at London Irish with a victory in Aviva Premiership Rugby but he insists there is plenty to like about the way his side are shaping up.

The Exiles put Leicester Tigers under severe pressure early in the second half but let several opportunities slip before falling to a 28-16 defeat.
 
Tommy Bell was the star of the show as his nerveless kicking performance produced 23 points for the Tigers, and Peter Betham scored an intercept try on debut.
 
Jebb Sinclair dotted down for Irish in the first half while Chris Noakes added 11 points with his boot, and Coventry was left to rue what could have been.
 
"We were too sloppy, we weren't clinical enough at vital times and we let ourselves down," he said.

"There were 19 handling errors, most of them in midfield and there was a lack of game management.

"There was a lot of good stuff, our forwards made a good fist of it and had we taken a couple of opportunities at crucial times, the result may have been different."

On Saturday, the first West Country derby of the season proved to be a spectacular one as it took a late George Ford penalty to guide Bath Rugby over the line by 19-17 against Exeter Chiefs.
 
Exeter got off to a flyer through debutant James Short’s try before Bath skipper Stuart Hooper replied late in the first half.
 
Then it boiled down to a kicking duel, with England fly-half Ford besting his counterpart Gareth Steenson by 14 points to 12 – including the game-winning 77th minute penalty.
 
And Ford, who had to endure an early exit with England at the Rugby World Cup, is just glad to be back in the groove with Bath.

"I think we can still get a little bit better, in terms of our defence, but the boys put their bodies on the line and we managed to get away with it,” he said.

"This week has been unbelievable, going back into the club and the environment that it is. The lads settle you back in nicely.”
 
Bath are looking to go one step further after losing the Aviva Premiership Rugby final last year but defending champions Saracens made a statement of their own in a 41-3 triumph over Sale Sharks.
 
Mike Ellery notched up a try-double on his Aviva Premiership Rugby debut, while new boy Michael Rhodes, Tim Streather and the fit-again Will Fraser also dotted down.
 
And Sale will be keen to draw a line under the defeat with their only return coming via a Danny Cipriani penalty in the first half.
 
Records were broken on the opening night as Billy Twelvetrees racked up a Gloucester Rugby Aviva Premiership record with a 29-point haul in the win at Newcastle Falcons.

Twelvetrees filled in at fly-half and was imperious from the tee by slotting through nine penalties and a conversion, adding to Matt Kvesic and Charlie Sharples tries.
 
Newcastle did stage an attempted late comeback as Simon Hammersley, Chris Harris and George McGuigan all crossed in the second half.
 
But Gloucester saw off their challenge by 39-27 – and director of rugby David Humphreys was full of praise for his star man.
 
"I think that's what makes him (Twelvetrees) such an important member of this squad," said Humphreys.

"Nothing seems to fluster him. He came back from the disappointment of the World Cup and brought that energy, enthusiasm and leadership that the squad needs.”
 
But if Twelvetrees was the man of the night, Worcester Warriors were undoubtedly the star team after announcing their return to Aviva Premiership Rugby with a brilliant victory against Northampton Saints.

Worcester could have won by a bigger margin if not for a succession of missed penalties but one of the culprits – Tom Heathcote – pulled it out of the bag when it mattered with a sublime drop-goal in the dying stages.
 
The effort snatched a 13-12 victory for Warriors after Stephen Myler’s fourth penalty looked to have sealed an unlikely Saints win.
 
And director of rugby Dean Ryan said: "I'm just delighted because we worked really hard. Fair play to Tom Heathcote – he missed a couple of earlier ones which would have made life a little easier.

"It's fantastic considering what we've been through over the last 12-18 months, this is a great start.”
 
Elsewhere, Harlequins and Wasps both played their part in a helter-skelter clash that ended 26-21 to Conor O’Shea’s men at the Stoop.
 
Nick Evans came to the fore by collecting 22 points – including a first-half try – but Quins took a slender 13-11 lead into half-time due to three Jimmy Gopperth penalties and a Jake Cooper-Woolley score.
 
George Lowe’s early second-half try made life difficult for Wasps but Elliot Daly’s converted score ensured they’d at least take a bonus point away from south west London.
 
SUNDAY
 
London Irish 16 Leicester Tigers 28

London Irish
Tries: Sinclair
Conversions: Noakes
Penalties: Noakes 3

Leicester Tigers
Tries: Betham
Conversions: Bell
Penalties: Bell 7

Referee: Matt Carley
Attendance: 6,597

SATURDAY
 
Saracens 41 Sale Sharks 3

Saracens
Tries: Ellery 2, Fraser, Rhodes, Streather
Conversions: Goode, Hodgson 4
Penalties: Hodgson 2

Sale Sharks
Penalties: Cipriani

Referee: Dean Richards
Attendance: 7,231

Bath Rugby 19 Exeter Chiefs 17

Bath Rugby
Tries: Hooper
Conversions: Ford
Penalties: Ford 4

Exeter Chiefs:
Tries: Short
Penalties: Steenson 4

Referee: Tim Wigglesworth
Attendance: 12,957
 
FRIDAY
 
Worcester Warriors 13 Northampton Saints 12
 
Worcester
Tries: van Velze
Conversions: Heathcote
Penalties: Heathcote
Drop goals: Heathcote

Northampton
Penalties: Myler 4

Referee: Greg Garner
Attendance: 8,483
 
Newcastle Falcons 27 Gloucester Rugby 39
 
Newcastle Falcons
Tries: Hammersley, Harris, McGuigan
Conversions: Delany 3
Penalties: Delany 2

Gloucester Rugby
Tries: Kvesic, Sharples
Conversions: Twelvetrees
Penalties: Twelvetrees 9

Referee: Tom Foley
Attendance: 5,049

Harlequins 26 Wasps 21
 
Harlequins
Tries: Evans, Lowe
Conversions: Evans 2
Penalties: Evans 4

Wasps
Tries: Cooper-Woolley, Daly
Conversions: Jackson
Penalties: Gopperth 3

Referee: Luke Pearce
Attendance: 12,200

To see all of the 2015-16 Aviva Premiership Rugby season fixtures, please click here #AvivaPrem

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