The Aviva A League lived up to expectations once again last night with five excellent fixtures.
Six games were originally on the cards but a waterlogged pitch forced Northampton Wanderers v Worcester Cavaliers to be postponed.
That postponement gave table toppers Gloucester United an excellent chance to further extend the distance between themselves and the rest at the top of the Northern Conference table. The did so, and did so in style, beating Sale Jets 36-3 in a result that included a spectacular four tries from hooker Darren Dawidiuk.
It puts Gloucester four points clear of second place, a spot that is now occupied by Newcastle Falcons A after they secured an excellent 24-3 bonus point victory at Kingston Park against Leicester Tigers A. With fly half Andy Goode playing against his former club, and making his debut in Falcons colours, Newcastle were in fine try scoring form.
Over in the Southern Conference leaders Harlequins A were beaten for the first time this season as a strong Exeter Braves side used their home advantage well to secure an 18-3 victory, keeping them in third place and just four points off the top.
Saracens Storm are therefore now the only side in the entire A League with a perfect record, and they showed just why with a 30-15 victory over Bath United. It was not quite the routine effort that the score suggest though, this was a real topsy turvy affair, which Saracens only really began to pull away in during the latter stages of the game.
The victory moves them to within a point of Harlequins at the top of the table, and with a game in hand to their advantage, Saracens are surely now felling confident about reaching the top of the table sooner rather than later.
The final game in the South saw Wasps A secure a strong 31-17 victory over Bristol United, a result that just keeps Wasps in touch with the top end of the conference, they lie fourth out of seven but are just six points off top spot. A hat-trick from Henley College leaver and star openside Jack Willis was the outstanding contribution of the game for Wasps.
The A League now takes a long break, with Six Nations commitments reducing a number of first team squads, and will return on Monday 28th March with another round in April before the final on the first Monday of May.
Aviva A League Results:
Newcastle Falcons A 24-3 Leicester Tigers A
Exeter Braves 18-3 Harlequins A
Northampton Wanderers v Worcester Cavaliers – Postponed, waterlogged pitch
Sale Jets 3-36 Gloucester United
Saracens Storm 30-15 Bath United
Wasps A 31-17 Bristol United
Newcastle Falcons A v Leicester Tigers A
Newcastle Falcons A
15 Brett Connon, 14 Giamba Venditti, 13 Tom Penny, 12 Tom Catterick, 11 Zach Kibirige, 10 Andy Goode, 9 Ruaridh Dawson, 1 Ben Harris, 2 Rob Hawkins, 3 Alex Rogers, 4 Calum Green, 5 Mouritz Botha, 6 Richard Mayhew (c) 7 Daniel Temm, 8 Todd Clever.
Replacements: 16 Santiago Socino, 17 Eric Fry, 18 Andrew Foster, 19 Will Witty, 20 Callum Chick, 21 Jamie Booth, 22 Adam Redman, 23 Dan Marshall.
Leicester Tigers A
15 Tommy Bell 14 Christian Loamanu 13 Jack Roberts 12 Charlie Thacker 11 Paolo Odogwu 10 Oli Bryant 9 George Tresidder (c) 1 Riccardo Brugnara 2 Michael van Vuuren 3 Tiziano Pasquali 4 Harry Wells 5 Joe Maksymiw 6 Will Owen 7 Will Evans 8 Fred Tuilagi.
Replacements: 16 Jake Farnworth 17 Aniseko Sio 18 Dan Hogan 19 Charlie Beckett 20 Stone Priestley-Nangle 21 Ben White 22 George Worth 23 Sam Yawayawa.
Exeter Braves v Harlequins A
15 Chrysander Botha 14 Byron McGuigan 13 Max Bodilly 12 Josh Jones 11 Matt Jess 10 Joe Simmonds 9 Jack Maunder 1 Moray Low 2 Shaun Malton 3 Alex Brown 4 Jerry Sexton 5 Ed Holmes 6 Sam Skinner 7 Sam Simmonds 8 Kai Horstmann (c).
Replacements 16 Jack Innard 17 Brett Sturgess 18 Harry Williams 19 Matt Elliet 20 Dan Swain 21 Haydn Thomas 22 Pete Laverick 23 Harrison Cully.
1 Owen Evans 2 Joe Gray 3 Will Collier 4 George Merrick 5 Kieran Treadwell 6 Stan South 7 Victor Keunan 8 Archie White 9 Karl Dickson 10 Ben Botica 11 Sam Aspland-Robinson 12 Harry Sloan 13 Matt Hopper (c) 14 Robbie Nairn 15 Tim Swiel.
Replacements: 16 Rob Buchanan 17 Seb Adeniran-Olule 18 Kyle Sinckler 19 Dino Lamb-Cona 20 Henry Cheeseman 21 Tito Tebaldi 22 Luke White 23 Winston Stanley.
Sale Jets v Gloucester United
15. Tim Jeffers, 14. John O’Donnell, 13. Johnny Leota, 12. Nick Macleod, 11. Tom Brady, 10. Tom Morton, 9. James Mitchell. 1. James Flynn, 2. Neil Briggs, 3. Ciaran Parker, 4. George Nott, 5. Tom Sanders, 6. Matt Rogerson, 7. Andy Hughes (c), 8. Viliami Fihaki.
Replacements: 16. Jake Pope, 17. Ted Stagg, 18. Diogo Ferreira, 19. Liam Parfitt, 20. Conor Dever, 21. Sam Bedlow, 22. Nev Edwards, 23. Forbes Edwards.
15 Mat Protheroe 14 Ollie Thorley 13 David Halaifonua 12 Mark Atkinson 11 Steve McColl 10 Lloyd Evans 9 Callum Braley (c) 1 Yann Thomas 2 Darren Dawidiuk 3 Josh McNulty 4 Joe Latta 5 Tom Hicks 6 Elliott Stooke 7 Dan Thomas 8 Lewis Ludlow.
Repalcements: 16 Joe Mullis 17 Jamie Gibbons 18 Ciaran Knight 19 Alex Craig 20 Will Safe 21 Ben Vellacott 22 Jack Evans 23 Steph Reynolds.
Saracens Storm v Bath United
15 Ben Ransom 14 Matt Gallagher 13 Nick Tompkins 12 Nils Mordt (c) 11 Nathan Earle 10 Max Malins 9 Ben Spencer 1 Richard Barrington 2 Dave Porecki 3 Kieran Longbottom 4 Kieran Low 5 Kennett O’Neil 6 Jack Nay 7 Kelly Brown 8 Samu Vunisa.
Replacements: 16 Josh Taylor 17 Hayden Stringer 18 Biyi Alo 19 Jack Tredrea 20 Ben Earl 21 Tom Whiteley 22 Dom Morris 23 Aaron Morris.
15 Darren Atkins 14 Liam Forsyth 13 Max Clark 12 Brett Herron 11 Jeff Williams 10 Adam Hastings 9 Will Homer 1 Beno Obano 2 Tom Dunn (c) 3 Kane Palma-Newport 4 Pat Jenkinson 5 Marcus Garrett 6 Alex Humfrey 7 Sydney Blackmore 8 Zach Mercer.
Replacements: 16 Dan Frost 17 Jack Andrew 18 Jack Edmondson 19 Will Graulich 20 James Catlin 21 Rory Jennings 22 Owen Waters 23 Henry Martin.
Wasps A v Bristol United
15. Piers O’Conor 14. Sailosi Tagicakibau 13. Brendan Macken 12. James Downey 11. Josh Bassett 10. Connor Eastgate 9. Jamie Stevenson 1. Tom Bristow 2. George Edgson 3. Will Stuart 4. James Cannon (c) 5. Jack Holford 6. Alex Rieder 7. Jack Willis 8. Guy Thompson.
Replacements: 16. Lewis Grinsell 17. Tom West/Alex Lundberg 18. Camilo Parilli-Ocampo 19. TBC 20. Jacob Turner 21. Will Porter 22. Conor Dolan 23. Owain James/Ollie Brown.
15 Auguy Slowik; 14 George Watkins, 13 Tommaso Benvenuti, 12 Nick Carpenter (c), 11 Ryan Edwards; 10 Callum Sheedy, 9 Andy Uren; 1 Kyle Traynor, 2 Chris Brooker, 3 Gaston Cortes, 4 Adam Sinclair (trialist), 5 John Hawkins, 6 Sam Jeffries (Bristol Uni), 7 Max Crumpton, 8 Josh Ovens.
Replacements: 16 James Stephenson, 17 Jamal Ford-Robinson, 18 David Spellman (Cambridge Uni), 19 Louis Wolf (Clifton RFC), 20 Jack Davies (Bath Uni), 21 Josh Barton (U18s/Millfield), 22 Sam Katz (trialist), 23 Darren Hudson.