Things you might have missed from Gallagher Premiership Rugby Round 19
It’s one round down, three to go in the Gallagher Premiership Rugby season as yet another round of stirring action took hold for the 19th time this season.
The top two were both toppled as first Saracens fell to Bristol Bears, before Exeter Chiefs were stung by Wasps on Sunday’s offering.
Read more from the most exciting club rugby league in the world:
- Match reaction: Bristol Bears 23-21 Saracens
- Sam Underhill Q&A: Gloucester Rugby v Bath Rugby
- Saracens sign promising prop Carre as Stringer-Thompson departs
At the bottom, there was high drama, with Leicester Tigers breaking Newcastle Falcons hearts with a dramatic win at Kingston Park under the Friday night lights, while there was also victory for Worcester Warriors.
Here’s how it all panned out.
Bears triumphant as they edge out Saracens
Last month, Ian Madigan’s late penalty attempt at Ashton Gate fell wide and Bristol Bears slipped to a worrying defeat to Worcester Warriors.
But this time around, the Ireland fly-half showed nerves of steel to drill the late kick that downed the defending champions Saracens and kept Pat Lam’s side looking upwards rather than over their shoulder.
It was a dramatic ending to a game that spluttered into life in the second half.
The Bears scored two stunning tries, Matt Protheroe creating skipper Steven Luatua’s before John Afoa burst clear to put Dan Thomas over.
Sarries emptied their bench full of British & Irish Lions and looked like they had done enough to end their away day blues in the league.
But they hadn’t counted on Madigan, and the Bears league position looks a whole lot better all of a sudden.
Great win yesterday, unbelievable effort from the lads. So special being a part of this team. Our supporters are class. 🔥 @BristolBears @ashtongatestad My son Kobi enjoying a moment with @Ian_madigan pic.twitter.com/L82PgvWm96
— Jonathan Thomas (@JonThom82) April 14, 2019
Tigers roar as Falcons fall
Guy Thompson made the difference as Leicester Tigers hung on for a crucial 27-22 away to Newcastle Falcons.
The No.8 set up the first try for Jonny May before crossing twice in the second half, and he even got the match-winning turnover at the death to seal the win.
In between, Falcons had recovered from a nightmare start to lead thanks to a Sonatane Takulua double and a try from Chris Harris.
But they paid the price for their lack of accuracy, including an attacking lineout five metres from time from which they could not convert.
Instead it was the Tigers who got the better of them, and eased the pressure as they moved eight points clear of the Falcons.
🗣️ “While we’re pleased with an away win, we can’t take our foot off the gas now”
— Leicester Tigers (@LeicesterTigers) April 14, 2019
Hughes the man for on-song Wasps
What a difference a week makes for Wasps.
After winning at home to Worcester Warriors last week to stop a four-game slide, Dai Young’s side then produced their best performance of the season at Sandy Park and are now up to fifth.
Never before had Wasps won in the league in Exeter, but they were well worth this impressive bonus-point victory.
Nathan Hughes did not score any of the four tries, but he made three of them and was nigh-on unstoppable in his final season with the club.
The Chiefs meanwhile gave a performance that reflected the fact they have already sealed a home semi-final.
They started strongly but faded thereafter and their unbeaten home league run of 14 months is now at an end.
— Kieran Brookes (@KBrookes3) April 14, 2019
Adams the hat-trick hero for battling Warriors
It was a near perfect weekend for Worcester Warriors.
After Newcastle Falcons’ narrow loss on Friday night, the Warriors ran in five tries at Sixways to down Sale Sharks and move seven points clear of the league’s bottom side.
Josh Adams was the hero with the second half hat-trick in this his final season at the club before returning to his native Wales.
But the winger clearly is keen to bow out on a high and with Sam Lewis impressing in the back row and Marco Mama leading by example on his 50th cap for the club it was a vital win.
Sale have only won once on their travels in the entirety of 2019 and this defeat was a dent in their top four hopes.
In full flow ✨pic.twitter.com/mJeeusl3A6
— Worcester Warriors ⚔️ (@WorcsWarriors) April 14, 2019
Saints leave it late but keep up the chase
On Saturday afternoon James Grayson held his nerve in south west London with a crucial last-minute conversion that gave Northampton Saints the narrowest of victories over fellow top-four chasers Harlequins.
Replacement Alex Mitchell’s fine finish set up a big kick for Grayson with less than a minute to go, and the substitute did the job to seal a vital four points for his side.
Harlequins had looked set to earn a 19-13 success when Marcus Smith’s two penalties put them ahead following Jack Clifford’s try, but they couldn’t hold out at the death.
Paul Gustard’s men have now been beaten in four successive league matches and lie just four points ahead of fifth-placed Northampton with three games to go.
Anyone buying dummies? Cos’ @alexmitchell97’s selling them 👶🏻
This late winner was absolutely top drawer pic.twitter.com/HjhlnXcs4V
— Northampton Saints 😇 (@SaintsRugby) April 14, 2019
Glory for Gloucester after huge comeback
As the game ticked towards half-time, Bath Rugby were in dream land as they held a 17-0 lead over their hosts.
But the game, which could prove pivotal in the battle for semi-final qualification, turned on its head as Gloucester came out of the blocks roaring in the second half.
Some shift by the boys yesterday….my career as a winger was on hold for this week! 👀 pic.twitter.com/U5SQhpH3yG
— Jake Polledri (@JakePolledri) April 14, 2019
Freddie Burns was pulling the strings in the middle and kicked 13 points before being subbed on the hour – and the home side took full advantage.
The five points mean Johan Ackermann’s troops are on the brink of a semi-final place.