Gallagher Premiership Rugby review: Leicester record bonus-point win over Bristol

Leicester Tigers' Jonny May celebrates after scoring his sides fourth try
Leicester Tigers' Jonny May celebrates after scoring his sides fourth try

A review of Saturday's action in the Gallagher Premiership, where Jonny May scored twice as Leicester claimed a welcome win.


Premiership results

  • Leicester Tigers 31-18 Bristol Bears
  • Gloucester 29-15 Bath
  • Saracens 62-5 Worcester Warriors

Leicester Tigers v Bristol Bears

Jonny May scored two tries as Leicester claimed only their second Gallagher Premiership win of the season with a 31-18 victory over Bristol.

Winger May scored once in each half, while his fellow England internationals Ellis Genge and George Ford also crossed the whitewash at Welford Road.

Leicester looked to be cruising as they led 21-6 at half-time but quickfire tries from flanker Dan Thomas and centre Piers O'Connor soon after the restart brought Bristol back into it.

However, May's second score with six minutes remaining settled the match to help 11th-placed Leicester close the gap between them and the pack above.

The Tigers made an impressive start and put points on the board early thanks to Genge's third-minute try.

A knock-on within the opening seconds put Leicester on the front foot and sustained forward pressure allowed a quick ball from scrum-half Ben Youngs to Genge and the prop powered over the line.

Ford successfully added the conversion, as he did for all four of Leicester's tries, en route to a personal match haul of 16 points.

Bristol responded instantly when Callum Sheedy kicked a penalty following an offside against May.

The opening 10 minutes were capped off when referee JP Doyle went to the TMO and sent Bears prop Jordan Lay to the sin-bin for a high tackle on Telusa Veainu.

Despite that, Sheedy closed the lead to one point, taking advantage of a penalty after 13 minutes. However, moments after scoring Bristol were reduced to 13 men when Doyle sent Alapati Leiua to join Lay in the sin-bin following a deliberate knock-on.

Lay returned to the fray soon after but Tigers took advantage of the extra man, swiftly moving the ball from deep within their own half before Veainu broke away and found May, who easily scored.

Ford added a try of his own and his team's third after 26 minutes, breaking through Bristol's defence and racing away to score. His conversion extended the lead to 15 points at the interval.

The Bears roared back at the start of the second half, though, and scored twice inside the opening seven minutes.

Their opening try came through Thomas and straight from the kick-off they crossed again, O'Connor latching onto a kick from midfield and drove away from the chasing Tigers defenders.

Sheedy was only able to convert one of those tries but the Bears were suddenly within three points of their hosts.

The Tigers, after a sluggish start to the second half, gained a little more breathing space when Ford slotted over a penalty to make it 24-18.

The game was still in the balance until the closing stages, until May went over for his second try in the 74th minute.

Leicester moved the ball from left to right and the deadly combination of Veainu and May down the right wing led to the latter touching down.

With four minutes left, the Tigers introduced replacement Sam Harrison and he received a standing ovation on his final appearance before leaving for a new life in Australia.

May's late try ensured Bristol would slump to a fourth Premiership defeat of the season and their afternoon only got worse when fullback Charles Piutau limped off in the last 30 seconds.


Gloucester v Bath

Gloucester climbed to third in the Gallagher Premiership after claiming a bonus-point 29-15 victory over west country rivals Bath at Kingsholm.

Bath's recent Premiership resurgence came to a grinding halt as they were outscored 4-0 on tries.

Full-back Jason Woodward, flanker Freddie Clarke, number eight Ruan Ackermann and replacement lock Gerbrandt Grobler all crossed the whitewash, with Billy Twelvetrees kicking two conversions and Danny Cipriani one, while Twelvetrees added a late penalty.

Bath relied on five Rhys Priestland penalties for all their points, but they lost a three-point advantage when Gloucester hit them with two converted touchdowns in rapid succession midway through the second-half.

It saw Gloucester overtake Sale Sharks and move into the top three, and Bath could have few complaints after offering little attacking spark apart from an occasional burst by England centre Jonathan Joseph.

Woodward made a first appearance since mid-November for Gloucester, but number eight Ben Morgan was sidelined due to injury and wing Louis Rees-Zammit failed a late fitness test, which meant former Bath player Matt Banahan replacing him on the bench.

Bath fielded an all-international back-row of Francois Louw, Sam Underhill and Taulupe Faletau together for the first time - injuries had mainly prevented it previously happening - and scrum-half Chris Cook replaced Will Chudley.

Bath enjoyed early territory and possession, but they were rocked when Gloucester scored from their first attack after five minutes.

Gloucester skipper Willi Heinz's pass found lock Franco Mostert space, and when he was held up, Woodward touched down from close range and Cipriani landed the touchline conversion.

Priestland opened Bath's account with a penalty four minutes later, and he then cut the gap to a point with a second strike after Cipriani missed a straightforward penalty chance.

Bath, though, should have been further ahead, but England wing Anthony Watson passed to Faletau, when an outside ball to an unmarked Louw would have given the South African an unopposed run-in.

Priestland completed a penalty hat-trick in the 22nd minute, but neither side could make sustained headway after that as errors abounded during a scruffy and scrappy second quarter, with Bath taking a 9-7 interval lead.

It took Gloucester just five minutes of the second period to go back in front, and it was their forwards that did the damage.

They battered away at Bath's line, and Clarke emerged from underneath a pile of bodies to claim the try, although Cipriani sent an easy conversion attempt wide.

And he was punished for that blunder when Priestland kicked a fourth successful penalty, making it 12-12 with just over 30 minutes left.

Gloucester's poor discipline continued to give Priestland chances, and his fifth penalty from six attempts put Bath back in front.

Gloucester were not helped at times by some indecisive work from Cipriani, particularly with ball in hand, yet their pack continued to make headway.

And their third try arrived in the 58th minute when substitute lock Grobler worked his way over, and Twelvetrees - who replaced Cipriani as kicker - added the conversion for a four-point advantage.

But it was only the start of Bath's troubles, as Gloucester hit them with another try four minutes later, with Ackermann crossing and Twelvetrees kicking the touchline conversion attempt.

Bath were knocked out of their stride by Gloucester's scoring blitz, and it remained one-way traffic during the closing stages as the home side warmed up impressively for a return to Heineken Champions Cup action next weekend when they host Montpellier.


Saracens v Worcester Warriors

Saracens bounced back from their defeat at Exeter to claim a precious bonus-point victory in their pursuit of Gallagher Premiership survival after dismantling Worcester 62-5.

Rooted to the foot of the table after being docked 35 points for breaching salary cap regulations, the champions ran in 10 tries against outclassed opponents at Allianz Park.

Rotimi Segun, a late replacement for the injured Sean Maitland, crossed in each half to spearhead the assault while Ben Earl, Brad Barritt, Mako Vunipola, Richard Barrington, Maro Itoje, Duncan Taylor, Jackson Wray and Elliot Daly also touched down.

Mako Vunipola's try on the half-hour mark secured the bonus point but then received an injury to his shoulder when illegally cleared out at a ruck and was substituted at half-time.

The resounding victory restored Saracens to winning ways having fallen 14-7 to arch-rivals Exeter six days ago and has come in the week that owner Nigel Wray stepped down as chairman in the wake of the salary cap scandal.

A match spanning 126 minutes was overshadowed by a potentially serious injury to Worcester's replacement lock Michael Fatialofa, who had been on the pitch just over a minute when he was hurt taking the ball into contact.

Play was held up for several minutes as Fatialofa received medical attention before he was carried from the pitch on a stretcher with his neck in a brace.

Compounding a torrid afternoon was the sight of Conor Carey, their replacement tighthead, bouncing on one leg as he was helped off by two of Worcester's back room staff.

Signs that the Warriors faced an uphill struggle came when Earl made a dynamic start as he powered over for the opening try, before winning the turnover that enabled Saracens to renew their attack and score a second through Segun.

Saracens' pack played a key role in both touchdowns as waves of runners, led by the tackle-busting Vunipola brothers, battered an unstoppable path through the Warriors.

Their dominance up-front was underlined when Barritt was at the bottom of a successful line-out drive but Worcester full-back Jamie Shillock being outjumped by Alex Lewington in the build-up had invited pressure.

Segun showed his footwork and pace to tear through the visiting defence, and had he passed to Elliot Daly Saracens would have had the bonus point, but on the half-hour mark it duly arrived.

Jamie George was stopped just short of the line following clever play from Owen Farrell but Mako Vunipola was on hand to complete the move.

Farrell then came through an anxious few moments as Craig Maxwell-Keys reviewed his tackle on wing Tom Howe but the referee decided it was a penalty only.

Lock Anton Bresler was not spared the sin-bin, however, for his dangerous clear-out of Mako Vunipola that left the England prop in considerable pain, while Will Skelton also rode his luck at the same breakdown.

Mako Vunipola failed to appear for the second half but otherwise normal service resumed, with Worcester scrambling furiously to defend their line, and only a double tackle by Shillcock and Scott Van Breda prevented Earl from scoring a second.

The move continued and replacement prop Barrington went over as the floodgates opened, Richard Wigglesworth's break downfield given fresh legs by Titi Lamositele before Maro crossed.

Once Fatialofa's unfortunate collision had been dealt with, wing Ed Fidow raced over in the left corner to spare Worcester total humiliation, but it was only a brief interlude as Segun produced a moment of genius to give Taylor an easy chance.

Taylor was held up over the line but Saracens continued to run riot and Jackson Wray was the next to score, before Daly put the Warriors out of their misery with the final blow to leave the champions 18 points adrift of 11th place Leicester.

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