Despite missing some players on international duty there was no shortage of excitement in the fourth round of the Anglo-Welsh Cup as sides battled to book their place in the semi-final.
Devoto on fire in Exeter win
England international Ollie Devoto inspired Exeter Chiefs to a 43-20 win against Saracens as they pipped Harlequins to the last four.
Devoto crossed twice, once in each half, while there were further scores for Moray Low, Jack Maunder, Paul Davis and two for Tom O’Flaherty.
Saracens struggled with Exeter’s intensity in the early stages but did pose a threat of their own – with Tom Whiteley, Rotimi Segun, Max Malins and Tom Lindsay crossing.
However, Exeter were too strong and are into the latter stages of the competition again as they look to lift the trophy after two successive final defeats.
Curry helps Sharks to victory
England’s Ben Curry showed what he can do as Sale Sharks ran in seven tries en route to a comfortable 45-18 triumph at Scarlets.
Steve Diamond’s side were unable to progress but flanker Curry, part of England’s touring party to Argentina in June 2017, led from the front.
Josh Charnley, Rob Webber, Arron Reed, Josh Strauss and Curtis Langdon all also got in on the act for the Sharks.
Will Cliff also bagged a try while booting four conversions.
Harlequins were already out of touching distance for Sale, despite their defeat to Saints, the Sharks finishing their pool with a three-win record.
Banahan maintains Bath’s unbeaten record
Former England international Matt Banahan was on the scoresheet as Bath Rugby completed an unbeaten group stage to top Pool 1 with a 32-19 win over Ospreys.
Bath’s powerful pack, including Ross Batty making his 150th appearance, earned two penalty tries, to see off Cardiff Blues 32-17.
It means Bath have a perfect four from four in the Anglo-Welsh Cup and booked their space in the semi-finals.
Dewi and Sam Cross both went over for Ospreys who trailed 13-12 at the break following Levi Douglas’ score.
Banahan extended Bath’s advantage only for James Hook to pull a try back but two late tries at the scrum for Bath secured their progress.
‘We’re on track for silverware, it’s now Semi-Final rugby, & that’s where we want to be.’ @Rossbatty2 talks after making his 150th appearance for @bathrugby in the win v @ospreys. pic.twitter.com/2FnGaECTjS— Bath Rugby (@bathrugby) February 3, 2018
North back with a bang for Northampton Saints
George North took just seven minutes to score on his Northampton Saints return as they booked a last-four spot with a 36-10 win against Harlequins.
North pulled out of the Saints’ win at Sale Sharks a week ago but scored one of four first-half tries at Franklin’s Gardens.
Tom Stephenson, Ahsee Tuala and Ken Pisi also crossed before half time with Mark Lambert replying for the visitors.
Pisi got his second after the break, while Joe Marchant scored a late consolation for Quins.
George North highlight reels— Rugby on BT Sport (@btsportrugby) February 2, 2018
Was this the kind of performance to earn him a Wales recall? pic.twitter.com/bCftUnIi1L
Exiles victory in vain
Saracens-bound Alex Lewington scored one of six tries as London Irish secured back-to-back wins with a 42-21 success over Cardiff Blues.
No.8 Ofisa Treviranus went over either side of half time with Arno Botha dotting down for his first Irish try in the first 40.
But tries from Aled Summerhill and Seb Davies, both converted by Steve Shingler, meant it was 21-14 to Irish at the break.
Treviranus had his second on 46 minutes to secure the bonus point with Botha’s 40m break setting up Tom Fowlie.
And Joe Cokanasiga rounded off the scoring with a last minute try with James Marshall converting all six scores.
Despite moving top of Pool 4 on Friday, Irish failed to make the semi-finals after Newcastle’s victory on Saturday.
FULL-TIME: @cardiff_blues 21-42 London Irish@TomFowlie @AlexLewington48 @AriGold_Botha @J_cokanasiga and a brace from Ofisa Treviranus secure a comprehensive bonus point victory for the Exiles! #BLUvLI pic.twitter.com/sfgI7QeeLi— London Irish (@LiRFC) February 2, 2018
Warriors fail to tame the Dragons
Events at Franklin’s Gardens meant Worcester Warriors couldn’t progress and their Anglo-Welsh Cup ended in a 33-27 defeat at the Dragons.
A second-half flurry from the hosts, Sarel Pretorious and Tyler Morgan both dotting down, put the brakes on Worcester, who had got their noses in front in the blink of an eye, Kurt Haupt going over inside the opening 60 seconds.
Former England Under-20s fly-half Sam Olver kicked three conversions and two penalties for the Warriors, who also scored tries through Dean Hammond and Ben Howard.
However, their efforts proved in vain as their Welsh hosts claimed victory by a six-point margin.
Falcons see off Gloucester to progress
Kyle Cooper crossed for a first-half double as Newcastle Falcons booked their place in the Anglo-Welsh Cup semi-finals with a 31-19 victory over Gloucester Rugby.
Dean Richards’ side were in control at the break as Cooper produced two close-range finishes.
England flanker Mark Wilson was also on the scoresheet, the back rower bursting clear from range after yet another fine break from the irrepressible Cooper.
The Cherry & Whites – already out of contention for the semi-finals – opened the scoring when Ben Vellacott snuck over.
Alex Tait’s score sealed the bonus point for the Falcons soon after the break before the boot of Toby Flood stretched their lead.
And while Matt Scott went over for Gloucester’s third in the second half, the Falcons held on for an impressive victory.
Victory huddle and man of the match presentation pic.twitter.com/jDMkAinScS— Newcastle Falcons (@FalconsRugby) February 3, 2018
Wasps rack up half century
Rob Miller and Josh Bassett both scored twice as Wasps scored eight tries to beat Leicester 50-28 at the Ricoh Arena.
Leicester went into the game knowing they needed to score 13 tries to guarantee progression in the competition – but they came up against a Wasps side with a point to prove following last week’s heavy defeat by London Irish.
Leicester scored first through Luke Hamilton but tries from Marcus Watson, Marcus Garratt and two from Miller gave Wasps the lead at the break.
Further second half tries from Craig Hampson, Jacob Umaga and Bassett’s brace gave Wasps a comfortable victory and denied Leicester a place in the semi-finals.
That winning feeling! pic.twitter.com/47rSzw3VOt— Wasps (@WaspsRugby) February 4, 2018