Manoa sinks Sarries
A review of the weekend's action in the LV= Cup as Northampton beat Saracens 20-16.
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A powerhouse performance from American forward Samu Manoa helped Northampton beat Saracens 20-16 to secure a home LV= Cup semi-final on Saturday.
Manoa scored two tries and played his part in another for James Wilson as Northampton ensured they will have home advantage against Saracens when the two teams meet again in the final four.
Saracens had gone ahead with 15 minutes to go with Ben Spencer, who scored a first-half try, using his boot to take his personal tally to 16 points.
But it was not enough as Manoa had the final say with an unstoppable score in the corner.
Young Northampton fly-half Will Hooley kicked five crucial points on his debut to help ensure the victory.
Exeter qualified for the semi-finals with a convincing 42-3 win over Worcester at Sixways Stadium.
The Chiefs top Pool Two of the competition with 14 points which gives them an away tie in the last four as they seek to secure a place in the final on their home ground.
Exeter were 18-3 up at half-time and always in control as they ran in five tries in total through Tom James, Haydn Thomas (two), Ceri Sweeney and Gareth Steenson, who also kicked four conversions and three penalties for a 22-point individual haul.
Wales centre Jonathan Davies played a solid 40 minutes on an early return from injury but it came in a losing cause as Scarlets were overpowered 29-10 by hosts London Irish.
Davies, who suffered a pectoral tear playing for Wales against South Africa in November, was originally expected to be out until the end of February.
But, even though his outgunned side suffered defeat, he proved a handful for the Exiles as the main attacking force before being withdrawn at half-time.
Andrew Fenby, Shane Geraghty, Jamie Hagan, Sailosi Tagicakibau and Myles Dorrian ran in tries for Irish, with Geraghty and Ian Humphreys landing a conversion apiece.
Flanker Matt Cox and centre Henry Trinder both scored two tries as Gloucester eased their way to a final LV= Cup victory of the season - a 36-5 win over London Wasps at Kingsholm.
There was nothing riding on the outcome of the match in terms of cup qualification but, with big Aviva Premiership clashes next week - Gloucester at Sale Sharks and Wasps tackling Harlequins at The Stoop - there was much for both coaches to take a look at.
But, with prop Dan Murphy grabbing a fifth try for the home side - with full-back Rob Cooke kicking 11 points via a penalty and four conversions - against a solitary Ashley Johnson try, Wasps were never in the match.
Bath booked a home semi-final after a convincing four-try 35-17 victory over Leicester Tigers at Welford Road on Friday.
The win means Bath top pool three with a perfect record of four wins from four games, while two-time champions Leicester crashed out of the competition after finishing behind Sale and Exeter in pool two.
It was Leicester's third successive defeat in all competitions, their second at home.
Bath scored two tries in each half to earn a bonus point and after leading 18-17 at half-time they dominated the second period, winning it 17-0.
Their tries came from Alafoti Fa'osiliva, Matt Banahan, Ollie Devoto and Carl Fearns while Gavin Henson kicked 15 points.
Leicester, who had George Chuter sin-binned at the start of the second half, replied with tries from Pablo Matera and Blaine Scully, with Owen Williams kicking seven points.
A five-try 35-5 victory over Harlequins was not enough to take Cardiff Blues through to the semi-finals.
Quins were in many ways the architects of their downfall as their ambition was admirable, but their handling frequently let them down at vital moments.
With attention focused on the imminent arrival of the Six Nations, the 5,967 who ventured out in testing conditions were rewarded with an entertaining encounter.
Filo Paulo, Gavin Evans, Dan Fish, Owen Williams and Marc Breeze crossed for home tries, with Simon Humberstone converting them all.
Quins responded with a try from Ollie Lindsay-Haugue in the first half.
Sam Davies kicked a last minute touchline conversion to end Sale Sharks' hopes of reaching the semi-finals and give Ospreys a 37-36 win at Bridgend.
The English club needed a bonus point win to reach the last four and they looked on their way as they led 28-13 at the break.
However, the Ospreys bounced back from 36-20 down after 55 minutes - with wing Aiesa Natoga completing a hat-trick of tries.
Dan Baker also crossed for the hosts with Davies landing seven kicks in total.
Viliami Fihaki claimed three tries for Sale with Charlie Ingall and Mike Haley also crossing, while Joe Ford kicked four conversions and a penalty.
Newcastle ended their campaign on a high note with a 29-0 win over Newport Gwent Dragons at Kingston Park.
On a gluepot pitch both sides displayed surprisingly good handling in the first half but the Falcons dominated the possession and ran in four tries, three of them before the break, as Newport struggled to match them up front.
It was different story after the break the game disintegrated on the back of myriad changes from the benches and any hopes Newport may have had of a comeback were dashed when they had centre Nic Cudd sent off for a spear tackle on Adam Powell in the 56th minute.
Newcastle's trys scorers were Phil Godman, a brace from Mark Wilson and Fraser McKenzie, while Godman also landed three kicks.