Premiership Rugby Cup: Things you may have missed
The final two Premiership Rugby Cup semi-final places were decided on the second Derby Day weekend as Newcastle Falcons and Worcester Warriors came out on top.
Four second-half tries saw Warriors defeat Wasps 35-23 to leapfrog Saracens in Pool 2, with Bryce Heem bagging a brace in the rollercoaster encounter at Sixways.
Worcester had led the Midlands derby by a point at the break, before Heem’s double and tries from Francois Venter and Ethan Waller booked them a home semi-final against Saracens.
Meanwhile, Newcastle Falcons required a bonus-point win against Sale Sharks to progress – and they came away from the AJ Bell with just that after a 28-12 win.
The results meant Gloucester Rugby’s game against Bath Rugby, which was rearranged for Monday after being postponed due to the weather, is now a dead rubber.
Here’s everything you might have missed from the final round of the Premiership Rugby Cup.
📊 #PremRugbyCup results for you 📊
Our Semi-finalists are confirmed and set in stone 🏟
Who was your young player of the weekend? 🤷♂️ pic.twitter.com/f3Lmg9e8Ey
— Premiership Rugby (@premrugby) February 3, 2019
Blamire bags bonus point for Falcons
An unlikely hero came to the rescue for Newcastle Falcons just when it looked like their place in the Premiership Rugby Cup semi-finals was under threat against Sale Sharks.
Callum Chick’s early score had given Falcons the lead at the AJ Bell before it was cancelled out by Rohan Janse van Rensburg to leave the match tied at 7-7 at the break.
Knowing they required a bonus-point win to progress, Newcastle regained the lead through Vereniki Goneva before Zach Kibirige crossed for their third try with 15 minutes left to play.
Replacement hooker Jamie Blamire then stepped up to score the decisive fourth try for the visitors with just three minutes left on the clock to secure the bonus-point victory.
The 21-year-old showed impressive footwork for a forward as he side-stepped his man to touch down, but his finish did not come as a surprise to Micky Ward.
He said: “We know how good Jamie is around the pitch, that speed and that step came as no surprise to us, but we’ve just got to make sure he keeps nailing his set-piece.”
— Newcastle Falcons (@FalconsRugby) February 3, 2019
Heem helps himself to brace
Bryce Heem was the star of the show as Worcester Warriors came from behind to down Wasps at Sixways and secure a semi-final berth in the Premiership Rugby Cup.
Needing a win to guarantee their place in final four, the Warriors recovered from an early Josh Bassett intercept try to lead 9-8 at the break.
Yet in a game that see-sawed with regularity, dangerman Bassett then fed full-back Rob Miller to hand the advantage back to Wasps the second time in the game and leave the hosts’ hopes hanging by a thread.
With time running out, the electric Heem dotted down for a brace, as well as supplying substitute Ethan Waller for a decisive score, to set up a home clash against Saracens.
Worcester director of rugby Alan Solomons admitted afterwards that his side had not been ruthless enough in the opening half – but he was delighted with how they responded after the restart.
He said: “We spoke at half-time about being clinical and we were much better in the second half. Eventually, near the end, we got the fourth try we desperately needed for a home semi-final.”
— Worcester Warriors ⚔️ (@WorcsWarriors) February 3, 2019
Snow forces West Country derby postponement
The West Country derby between Bath Rugby and Gloucester fell foul of the weather for a second time on Sunday.
The game was originally scheduled for Saturday before heavy snow forced the game to be postponed until the following day.
But despite the best efforts of Bath, freezing conditions overnight meant the game was rescheduled for Monday at 7.30pm.
Gloucester had been in with an outside chance of reaching the semi-finals, but their hopes were dashed by the results on Sunday.
Tarquin McDonald, Bath Rugby’s Chief Executive, said: “The rescheduling of matches is not something we take lightly as a Club and we are very sorry for the disappointment we know this will have caused.
“We understand that some of you will have travelled hundreds of miles to see us play on home turf. We know that birthdays and special occasions were due to be celebrated and we are very sorry that we’ve been unable to make this game happen during the same weekend.
“The stands, ground and the majority of routes in and out of the stadium have all been cleared of snow and ice.
“However, temperatures yesterday were lower than forecast, plummeting to as low as -7 overnight. This impacted the thaw of the snow on the pitch, and importantly it also meant that the heated dome installed and operated by Sports Stadia Services became ineffective overnight.”