Exeter awarded Premiership Rugby Cup victory over covid stricken Bath

Exeter have been awarded a 28-0 Premiership Rugby Cup third-round win after opponents Bath were unable to field a team due to coronavirus and injuries.

The scheduled match was meant to take place at The Rec on Wednesday December 29th. However, a depleted Bath squad did not have enough front-row forwards to start the game.

Bath’s Premiership fixture with London Irish on Monday was also postponed due to coronavirus and injuries.

A Premiership Rugby spokesperson said on Monday afternoon: “As the tournament organiser, Premiership Rugby has to rule on all match cancellations. We must determine if the match cancellation is as a result of Covid-19 or due to other factors.

“This match was cancelled due to the combination of positive cases, injuries and unavailabilities leaving Bath Rugby unable to fulfil its fixture obligations under the Premiership Rugby Cup regulations because the club had insufficient front-row forwards.

“Therefore the match is awarded to Exeter Chiefs 28-0, with the Chiefs receiving five match points.”

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England U20s announce 2022 squad

Ahead of the U20 Six Nations, England have selected their 32-man Elite Player Squad (EPS) for 2022.

Head coach Alan Dickens has selected ten players who have previously been capped at U20 level, or have been part of the squad before: Seb Atkinson, Deago Bailey, Finn Baxter, Lucas Brooke, Tom Carr-Smith, Emeka Ilione, Tom Litchfield, Ewan Richards, Fin Smith and John Stewart.

Alan Dickens said: “Selection for the squad has been based on a combination of things: the previous regional camps we’ve held, the work we do with the club academies and coaches, plus our knowledge of the players w…

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Northampton Saints 6 – 30 Saracens: Lozowski scores emphatic 20 points

Alex Lozowski scored 20 points as Saracens earned a hard-fought win over Northampton at Franklin’s Gardens.

At the interval, the sides were locked 6-6 as Dan Biggar and Lozowski traded penalties. Biggar twice cancelled out Lozowski penalties in an attritional and even first half, played in wet, slippery conditions.

Northampton had put Saracens under pressure in the first half but were unable to penetrate Sarries defence.

Alex Goode glided through a small opening and fed Lozowski who slid in for the game’s first try just four minutes after the restart. He added a conversion and a further penalty to extend the lead to 16-6 after an hour.

Woolstencroft was driven over for the second try just a minute after prop Conor Carey was yellow-carded for collapsing a maul.

Maro Itoje rubbed salt in the Northampton wounds after he scored following Eroni Mawi’s breaking from a maul. Lozowski converted to score his 20th point of the game (1 try, 3 penalties and 3 conversions).

NORTHAMPTON, ENGLAND – JANUARY 02: Alex Lozowski of Saracens lines up a penalty during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby match between Northampton Saints and Saracens at Franklin’s Gardens on January 02, 2022 in Northampton, England. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Tom Woolstencroft sealed victory with a pushover try before Maro Itoje crossed late on as a tiring Saints side wilted – ending the game with 13 men following injuries.

Saracens matched the win of runaway leaders Leicester and remain second, but slipped back to nine points adrift as the Tigers secured a bonus point in beating Newcastle.

Northampton went into the match on a run of three straight defeats in all competitions – and seven in their past nine – but had only lost once at Franklin’s Gardens this season.

Northampton: Furbank; Sleightholme, Hutchinson, Francis, Skosan; Biggar, Mitchell; Waller, Matavesi, Hill, Coles, Ratuniyarawa, Lawes, Ludlam (capt), Augustus.

Replacements: Fish, Iyogun, Carey, Ribbans, Wood, James, Dingwall, Tuala.

Sin-bin: Connor Carey (71)

Saracens: Malins; Maitland, Lozowski, Tompkins, Daly; Goode, van Zyl; M Vunipola, George (capt), Beaton, Itoje, Isiekwe, McFarland, Earl, B Vunipola.

Replacements: Woolstencroft, Mawi, Milasinovich, Hunter-Hill, Wray, de Haas, Manu Vunipola, Segun.

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Leicester Tigers 31 – 0 Newcastle Falcons: Tigers remain unbeaten

Leicester Tigers maintained their unstoppable start to the season with a bonus-point win over Newcastle Falcons.

Ford kicked Tigers into an early lead before the hosts broke Newcastle with two tries in quick succession.

The first for Kelly came from a driving line-out before Ford chipped ahead, Joel Hodgson fumbled and Scotland centre Scott collected the loose ball to score.

Newcastle then remained pinned in their own half before Martin crashed over from close range.

And, with the last play of the game, a superb cross-field kick from replacement Burns was collected by Potter. He stepped inside full-back Brown to score the bonus-point try and stretch the Tigers’ winning streak in all competitions to 16.

LEICESTER, ENGLAND – JANUARY 02: Matt Scott of Leicester Tigers celebrates after scores a try during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby match between Leicester Tigers and Newcastle Falcons at Mattioli Woods Welford Road Stadium on January 02, 2022 in Leicester, England. (Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)

Sale-bound Ford landed three conversions and a penalty on his 100th start for the club as Tigers made it to the halfway stage of the season nine points clear of second-placed Saracens – and with their 100% record still intact.

Newcastle became the first side to fail to score in a top flight game since Sale beat London Irish 39-0 in March 2020.

Newcastle’s ex-England international Mike Brown made his 250th Premiership appearance. In doing so, he became only the sixth player in the top flight’s 25-year history to reach that milestone, after Richard Wigglesworth (309), Leicester boss Steve Borthwick (265), George Chuter (262), Phil Dowson (262) and Charlie Hodgson (254).

It was a happy end to a difficult week for Leicester Tigers in which they have been accused of Premiership salary-cap breaches, which are now under investigation.

Leicester: Steward; Potter, Scott, Kelly, Porter; Ford, Youngs; Genge (capt), Montoya, Cole, Snyman, Wells, Reffell, Martin.

Replacements: Clare, Leatigaga, Heyes, Murimurivalu, Dolly, Van Poortvliet, Burns, Moroni.

Newcastle: Brown; Carreras, Orlando, Burrell, Radwan; Hodgson, Schreuder; Cooper, Maddison, Davison, Peterson, Robinson, Van der Walt, Welch (capt), Fearns.

Replacements: Smith, Mulipola, Tampin, Chick, Graham, Stuart, Connon, Penny.

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Gloucester 17 – 20 Harlequins: Quins survive early scare to stay third

Harlequins had to battle for victory at Gloucester as tries from Luke Northmore and Danny Care got them over the line.

The Premiership champions had been 10-0 behind after a Ruan Ackermann try had given the Cherry and Whites the lead. Ackermann powered over the line after a neat line-out move.

Gloucester should have gone further ahead when prop Val Rapava Ruskin knocked on just short of the try-line as he tried to finish what would have been a fantastic end-to-end team score.

However, in an entertaining first half – Quins centre Luke Northmore crossed and Marcus Smith converted and kicked a penalty to level the scores at the interval.

After the break, neither side could forge ahead as Harlequins dominated territory. Smith saw a penalty strike the left upright shortly after the hour.

Care went over after concerted pressure from Quins in the second half and they held on despite Santiago Socino’s late score for the hosts.

GLOUCESTER, ENGLAND – JANUARY 02: Danny Care of Harlequins scores his side’s second try during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby match between Gloucester Rugby and Harlequins at Kingsholm Stadium on January 02, 2022 in Gloucester, England. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Smith then put them more than a converted score ahead with his second successful penalty and that would ultimately prove to be the difference as replacement hooker Socino’s converted score from a rolling maul was not enough to earn a draw for Gloucester.

Quins stay third after backing up their victory against Northampton, while Gloucester remain fourth despite coming away with a losing bonus point.

Harlequins’ next fixture will see them host Exeter in a repeat of last season’s Premiership final on Saturday while Gloucester travel to Saracens on the same afternoon.

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Ankle trouble will see Faletau miss start of the Six Nations

Working hard: FaletauDEFENDING champions Wales look set to start the Six Nations without topchoice No.8 Taulupe Faletau.The triple British & Irish Lions tourist hasn’t played since returning from South Africa in the summer and is still undergoing rehab on his damaged ankle.Bath director of rugby Stuart Hooper, whose side have yet to win in the Premiership or Europe this season, is desperate to get the 31-year-old back in action, but still doesn’t know when that will be.It means Wales head coach Wayne Pivac is unlikely to be able to call on his most experience ba…

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A poker face, but Boyd can cut loose!

By PAUL REES

AS Northampton blew an early 21-7 lead against Harlequins at Twickenham last week, returning home without even a losing bonus point, the TV camera regularly honed in on the impassive figure of the club’s director of rugby, Chris Boyd.There was no tablethumping from the New Zealander any more than there had been eruptions of euphoria when his side were picking apart the champions. It was impossible to tell from his expression whether his side was winning or sinning.“He is not emotional, he is process driven,” said Northampton captain Lewis Ludlam. …

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Hastings eyes big finish after patient start

By PAUL REES

PREVIEW…Gloucester v HarlequinsToday. Kick-off 3pm, KingsholmSettled: Adam HastingsADAM Hastings has noticed a difference since joining Gloucester from Glasgow in the summer – he has not had to wear a balaclava in training.The Scotland outsidehalf spent three years with Bath before joining Glasgow in 2017 and his arrival at Kingsholm has coincided with the club mounting only their second Premiership title assault since reaching the 2011 play-offs.They started this round of matches in fourth place, one position and one point below today’s opponents, cha…

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Ryan hopes derby integrity remains

DRAGONS director of rugby Dean Ryan hopes the “integrity of derby games will remain” as league organisers face the challenge of rescheduling.Three of four URC Welsh festive derbies have been postponed, along with those in Scotland and Ireland. Ryan hopes they will be rescheduled outside the Six Nations window.Ryan said: “There are available weekends outside the Six Nations. We’re all aware that we’re running out of them, but if there is a weighting applied I hope that weighting would go in favour of the derbies… we all know how important they …

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