Gallagher Premiership Saturday wrap: Exeter, Leicester, and Saracens victorious
Billy Vunipola scores try on return from injury for Saracens, Tuilagi among five to cross for Leicester
Last Updated: 08/09/18 7:49pm
A look back on Saturday's Gallagher Premiership action, including Exeter Chiefs storming the Ricoh, Geordan Murphy's Leicester ripping Newcastle apart, a controversial Saracens win over Bristol and a humdinger between Bath and Gloucester....
Wasps 31-42 Exeter Chiefs
Exeter beat Wasps 42-31 in an enthralling contest at the Ricoh Arena to continue their impressive start to the Gallagher Premiership season.
After last week's demolition of Leicester at Sandy Park, the visitors overcame a 24-21 half-time deficit to run out deserved winners.
Sam Simmonds and Henry Slade both scored two tries for Chiefs, with Santiago Cordero and Don Armand also crossing and Gareth Steenson converting all six.
Elliot Daly, Josh Bassett, Dan Robson and Nathan Hughes scored Wasps' tries, with Billy Searle adding three conversions and a penalty. Lima Sopoaga added a conversion.
Leicester Tigers 49-33 Newcastle Falcons
Leicester gave Geordan Murphy the perfect start as interim head coach as they came out on top in a thrilling 49-33 victory over Newcastle.
It had been a turbulent week for the Tigers with Matt O'Connor sacked on Monday following their 40-6 humiliation to Exeter in their Gallagher Premiership opener, leaving former Ireland and British & Irish Lions full-back Murphy in command on a temporary basis.
But the 40-year-old, who made 316 appearances for the Tigers, watched his men get off to a winning start against his old coach Dean Richards.
George Ford starred in the Welford Road success with 29 points, including a try, with Jonny May (2), Manu Tuilagi and Adam Thompstone also scoring tries.
Saracens 44-23 Bristol
Billy Vunipola made a try-scoring comeback as Saracens pulled clear of Bristol in a dominant second half that underpinned a 44-23 Gallagher Premiership victory at Allianz Park.
Vunipola's first appearance since re-fracturing his arm against South Africa in June totalled 36 minutes and the injury-ravaged England number eight was a menace throughout.
Saracens needed his firepower to subdue a resilient Bristol who led 18-13 at half-time and suffered the injustice of seeing George Smith harshly sent off for a tackle on Jackson Wray when the score was delicately poised at 18-18.
Smith's challenge was at shoulder height and there was a clear attempt to use his right arm, but after repeated viewings referee Andrew Jackson reached for the red card. Wray departed for a head injury assessment and was unable to return.
The Australia Test centurion stared at Jackson in disbelief, received a sympathetic pat on the head from his head coach Pat Lam upon reaching the dugout and then watched as Saracens powered clear with tries from Vunipola and Liam Williams.
Bath 31-31 Gloucester
Matt Banahan denied his former Bath team-mates a remarkable Gallagher Premiership victory as his late converted try secured Gloucester a 31-31 draw.
Ex-England wing Banahan, who joined Gloucester this summer following a long Bath career that saw him more than 250 appearances, struck two minutes from time, with Billy Twelvetrees' conversion ensuring the points were shared.
Gloucester were cruising at 21-0 ahead just before half-time at the Recreation Ground, but Bath wiped out that advantage during a pulsating second period and led by seven points in the closing stages.
Hooker Tom Dunn scored two tries for Bath, while wing Semesa Rokoduguni and substitute lock Elliott Stooke also crossed, with Freddie Burns kicking two conversions and Rhys Priestland adding two conversions and a penalty.
Banahan, flanker Ruan Ackermann, who crossed twice, and Callum Braley claimed Gloucester touchdowns, while Twelvetrees booted all four conversions and a penalty.