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MATCH REPORT: London Irish 45, Worcester Warriors 14



London Irish opened their 2022/23 Gallagher Premiership account with a more than convincing showing over Worcester Warriors at the Gtech Community Stadium, winning 45-14.

A magnificent seven tries were scored on the day by Declan Kidney’s team, Ben Donnell the man to take Irish ahead with more tries from Ben White and Ollie Hassell-Collins giving them a 19-0 lead at half-time.

Henry Arundell’s introduction only further extended the Exiles procession, grabbing the try bonus with another headline-grabbing, globe-trotting, sensational score with his first touch.

The replacement registered another to conclude proceedings with the clock in the red, with fellow internationals Will Joseph and Agustín Creevy bagging tries of their own in an exhibition of attacking rugby at the Gtech.

Worcester asked questions of Irish defensively in the first five minutes, employing bustling phase play that was only bettered by Irish’s resolute set that concluded with a Worcester double movement, following a great Ollie Hassell-Collins tackle.

Two touch finders from Paddy Jackson advanced Irish into promising positions, but Will Joseph was put into touch to end Irish’s hopes for the time being.

Curtis Rona’s kick from hand was halted with a recovering tackle, Worcester were then on the breakaway were met by another impressive Hassell-Collins effort on the ground, jackalling to regain an Irish foothold once more.

Hassell-Collins demonstrated his capabilities with ball in hand also, cutting across the face of the pitch perpendicular to Irish’s attacking motion to expose space in the Warriors backline and find Benhard van Rensburg.

The South African then found midfield partner Rona in a flowing numerical ascendency in the Irish backs, the Australian connecting to Ben Donnell who ran a fantastic support line to cut the ball back infield for the Academy product to score- Jackson adding the conversion.

The Exiles were putting on a show at the breakdown, Facundo Gigena getting over the ball magnificently to stop the opposing sides’ progression in midfield.

It was the aforementioned backs involved who this time incorporated Will Joseph, the England international delivering the killer blow in the shape of an incisive ball inside to scrum-half Ben White to dot down, Jackson making no mistake.

A penalty conceded in their own half by Worcester was only worsened when official Wayne Barnes marched them back 10 metres, Irish duly obliging in going for touch in hopes of bagging their third score.

Slick interplay from Irish resulted in them doing just that- working out wide from right to left with a tip pass from Curtis Rona proving decisive in his team’s progression, James Stokes finding fellow outside back Hassell-Collins crashing through three tackles to touch down in the left corner.

Worcester wasn’t without reply, only for an Alex Hearle knock-on were they within metres of the whitewash, and another spill from Gareth Simpson awarded Irish the put-in.

A few disagreements between the sides, with the penalty initially awarded to Worcester after a strong first half in the set-piece from the Exiles, saw Barnes reverse his decision after an altercation post-scrum.

Irish would have their way at scrumtime again, this time turning over the ball in another hulking showing before half-time.

Warriors’ Cameron Nield was penalised for playing the ball off his feet not long after play resumed, but Irish were unable to capitalise and bring home a try bonus after a Donnell knock-on.

The Exile Nation were rewarded for their patience with a try for the ages, benefitting from the advantage after Worcester collapsed a maul with Jackson finding Hassell-Collins on the wing.

The form flyer kicked ahead but was deflected- that wasn’t an issue for recently introduced Henry Arundell though, making up for the lack of football this weekend with an awe-inspiring half volley forward to collect on the whitewash and wrap up the try bonus.

Irish, never complacent, had their proverbial tails up, Jackson’s sublime mispass locating a surging Donnell out wide but the flanker’s offload couldn’t be recouped.

Talk about impact subs, Danilo Fischetti’s first involvement was contributing to another scrum turnover win for the Exiles and Irish were back in the corner.

Whilst there was nothing doing for Irish off the rolling maul, a knock-on from Worcester played into Irish’s hands with Joseph dancing through a gap to reach out and touch down in a crowning homecoming for the Club’s first capped England stars in a decade.

Warriors took their first five-pointer of the afternoon with 15 minutes remaining through former Irish player Curtis Langdon, who bundled over under to posts to hand Owen Williams an easy pop at two further points.

Whilst Arundell’s audacious chip-and-chase didn’t come off this time, his fellow Academy graduate and England star retook Irish ball with an industrious turnover.

Speaking of internationals, replacement Agustín Creevy was next in on the act, spotting a gap beyond the ruck to score- but his one-handed offload in the phases beforehand will be the talk of the town for the much-adored hooker as fellow substitute Englefield added the extras.

Steve Diamond’s side gave the visiting supporters something to shout about late on, with new signing Fergus Lee-Warner passing to an oncoming Alex Hearle to find full-back Jamie Shillcock who careered over.

Arundell marked his return to rugby in Brentford with a brace, van Rensburg floating a bullet pass to the youngster who touched down unopposed, Englefield capping off the fine afternoon in west London with the final conversion of the affair.


Score sequence (London Irish first): 5-0, 7-0, 12-0, 14-0, 19-0, 24-0, 26-0, 31-0, 31-5, 31-7, 36-7, 38-7, 38-12, 38-14, 43-14, 45-14

London Irish: Tries: Donnell (15), White (24), Hassell-Collins (31), Arundell (47) (80), Joseph (58) Creevy (70); Conversions: Jackson (16) (25) (48), Englefield (70) (80).

Worcester Warriors: Tries: Langdon (65) Shillcock (75); Conversions: Williams (66) (76).


London Irish:

15 James Stokes (Arundell 47), 14 Will Joseph, 13 Curtis Rona, 12 Benhard van Rensburg, 11 Ollie Hassell-Collins, 10 Paddy Jackson (Morisi 59), 9 Ben White (Englefield 59); 1 Facundo Gigena (Fischetti 47), 2 Matt Cornish (Creevy 51), 3 Lovejoy Chawatama (Parker 59), 4 Rob Simmons (c), 5 Adam Coleman (Ratuniyarawa 55), 6 Ben Donnell, 7 Tom Pearson, 8 Josh Basham (Cooke 68).


16 Agustín Creevy, 17 Danilo Fischetti, 18 Ciaran Parker, 19 Api Ratuniyarawa, 20 Jack Cooke, 21 Caolan Englefield, 22 Luca Morisi, 23 Henry Arundell.


Worcester Warriors:

15 Jamie Shillcock, 14 Perry Humphreys, 13 Ollie Lawrence (Heward 59), 12 Francois Venter, 11 Alex Hearle, 10 Billy Searle (Williams 35), 9 Gareth Simpson (Chudley 59); 1 Valeriy Morozov (Sutherland 47), 2 Hame Faiva (Langdon 47), 3 Murray McCallum (Tyack 45), 4 Joe Batley, 5 Andrew Kitchener, 6 Fergus Lee-Warner, 7 Cameron Neild (c) (G Kitchener 68), 8 Matt Kvesic (Todd 55).


16 Curtis Langdon, 17 Rory Sutherland, 18 Jay Tyack, 19 Graham Kitchener, 20 Tom Dodd, 21 Will Chudley, 22 Owen Williams, 23 Noah Heward.


Referee: Mr Wayne Barnes

Content & Images from – London Irish Rugby


Hill ready for Chiefs test at the AJ Bell



Following an extended break due to his involvement in England’s summer tour of Australia, the Sharks family finally got their chance to see Jonny Hill in action last week as the British & Irish Lion made his highly anticipated debut against Bath at The Rec.

But rather than focus on his own efforts, it was the team performance at Bath that Jonny was especially proud of on his first outing as a Shark, with the 28-year-old recognising the resilience of his new teammates in the face of adversity after going down to fourteen men after just nine minutes.

He said: “I was really impressed with the boys at Bath. I thought we fought really hard and showed a lot of perseverance going down to fourteen and then thirteen men at some stages.”

It was a performance to be proud of for Jonny too as the England International played all 80 minutes to help the Sharks complete their second consecutive bonus point victory in as many weeks.

After seamlessly slotting into the Sale squad following a busy summer on tour with England, Jonny credits the extended break offered to him by Sale as a catalyst for his early form this season.

He said: “The extra time I had off following the tour was good. The main thing it allowed me to do was freshen up physically and mentally whilst it also gave me the chance get used to being in a new environment. I’m feeling good for it now though and looking forward to getting stuck into the season.”

It’s a season of change in many areas for Jonny, having to settle into a new city and integrate himself amongst the squad. But the Devon-born giant admits he’s been pleasantly surprised by the northern weather at least.

He said: “It’s been brilliant so far to be fair. I’ve been here five or six weeks now and luckily the weather has been really nice since I moved up. I’ve not been up to too much so far, just getting into the swing of things in pre-season and spending time with the lads. I’ve managed to played a bit of golf but I haven’t found myself a beach to relax on just yet.”

The culture shock of a move from the South-West was balanced by the bromance Jonny already shared with Tom Curry. In fact he revealed he enjoys both Curry twins’ company, so much so that he moved in with the pair when he first arrived in Manchester.

He said: “I’ve spent quite a lot of time with the Curry’s. I knew Tom from England and the Lions and he offered to put me up when I first arrived. That was a strange experience! I’m glad to be out of their way for a bit now.”

Hill is set to make his first appearance in front of the Sharks faithful on Saturday, with the 6ft 7in lock expected to start against his former side.

And after spending seven trophy-laden years at Sandy Park, Jonny knows just what to expect.

He added: “It’s going to be very physical, especially around the breakdown and the Chiefs always bring it up front. It’s going to be a very attritional game but I’m excited for the challenge. I’m just not so excited to see what’s going to happen at the bottom of those rucks!”

Catch Jonny in action this weekend as Sale Sharks face off against his former side Exeter Chiefs at the AJ Bell Stadium. With both sides still unbeaten so far this season, it’s set to be an absolute belter on Saturday afternoon.

Get tickets here

Images & Content from Sale Sharks Rugby

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Match Report: Bath Rugby 15-29 Gloucester (Premiership Rugby Cup)



Match summary – Bath Rugby 15-29 Gloucester

A youthful Bath Rugby side put in a spirited display in their Premiership Rugby Cup meeting with Gloucester, but the visitors’ experience told in the second half. 

Tom Doughty’s converted try and a George Worboys penalty had the Blue, Black and White 10-7 ahead at half-time. 

Jack Reeves’ double added to Jake Polledri’s opener to put Gloucester in front and Kyle Moyle edged the game out of sight. 

Bath remained in the hunt for points until late on and hooker John Stewart’s score proved a consolation just past the hour.

Team News

Tom Ellis returned to captain the side along with Ruaridh McConnochie, both having missed eight months of action.

Alongside their experience, Assistant Coach Luke Charteris gave his younger players their first run out of the season with Sam Harris and Louie Hennessey earning their senior debuts. 

Second row pairing of Michael Etete and JJ Tonks were also appearing for Bath for the first time.

Gloucester welcomed some experience back as Jonny May, Polledri and Lewis Ludlow were named by George Skivington.

Bath Rugby: 15 Sam Harris, 14 Ruaridh McConnochie, 13 Louie Hennessey, 12 Will Butt, 11 Gabe Goss, 10 George Worboys, 9 Max Green; 1 Arthur Cordwell, 2 Tom Doughty, 3 Johannes Jonker, 4 Michael Etete, 5 JJ Tonks, 6 Tom Ellis ©, 7 Ethan Staddon, 8 Nahum Merigan

Impact players: 16 John Stewart, 17 Archie Stanley, 18 Kieran Verden, 19 Mackenzie Graham, 20 Thompson Cowan, 21 Tom Carr-Smith, 22 Max Wright, 23 Darren Atkins

Gloucester: 15 Kyle Moyle, 14 Tom Seabrook, 13 Jack Reeves, 12 Giorgi Kveseladze, 11 Jonny May, 10 George Barton, 9 Stephen Varney; 1 Ciaran Knight, 2 Henry Walker, 3 Bryan O’Connor, 4 Arthur Clark, 5 Cameron Jordan, 6 Jack Clement, 7 Lewis Ludlow (c), 8 Jake Polledri

Replacements: 16 Seb Blake, 17 Fed Ma’a, 18 James Pollard, 19 Freddie Thomas, 20 Jack Bartlett, 21 Matty Jones, 22 Isaac Marsh, 23 Jake Morris

First half

The first 10 minutes were evenly matched on physicality, with the ball going through both Bath and Gloucester hands in attack.

Debutant Harris got an early touch on the ball on the receiving end of a nicely placed crossfield kick and demonstrated Bath’s attacking intent.

With solid hits coming from Arthur Cordwell and Etete, and strong carrying from Will Butt, the hosts looked in a good place. However, Gloucester had their moments too.

Italy international Polledri received the ball off the back of a line-out to charge over the line, giving his side the first points of the game.

Answering back, Bath cashed in on a penalty and Worboys got his side’s first points on the board.  

Showing their intent once again, a break from Gabe Goss put Bath on the front foot as he made 15 metres down the wing. Spotting the space, youngster Harris put boot to ball to bounce it into touch deep inside the Gloucester 22 as Bath began to put the pressure on.

It paid off as after a succession of penalties, Doughty bided his time at the back of a driving maul to burrow over and Worboys’ extras made it 10-7.

Edging closer to the close of the half, Bath needed to be resilient to thwart Gloucester of any points and they did just that, preventing such with a superb turnover.

Second half

Gloucester came out strong in the second period as Reeves capitalised on some open field to sprint over and George Barton kept the scoreline ticking over with another conversion.

The Cherry & Whites continued in the ascendancy with Reeves grabbing his second just before the hour with a bulldozing close-range finish which saw JJ Tonks sinbinned in the process.

A third second-half try came just shy of the hour mark as full-back Moyle slipped through a gap on the outside for Gloucester’s fourth.

Not to be downbeat, Bath bit back quickly and replacement hooker Stewart delivered accurate arrows before steering a maul over for a try.

Barton ticked Gloucester’s tally to 29 to make Bath need two scores to claw their way back in and despite many entries into the 22, they couldn’t quite get past a stubborn away defence.

With many patterns beginning to emerge of what Johann van Graan is trying to instil, there are plenty of positives, as well as work ons, to take from the performance. 

Pol Roger Performance of the Match


GALLERY: GLOUCESTER (H – CUP) by Bath Rugby on Exposure

Content & Images from – Bath Rugby

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Baxter outlines Simmonds departure



Exeter Chiefs

By Andrew Baldock

Rob Baxter says England international Sam Simmonds will leave Exeter with the club’s blessing.

Baxter has insisted there are no issues surrounding back-row forward Simmonds’ move to French champions Montpellier next season.

He is expected to be available for next year’s World Cup but after that will be ineligible to represent his country.

Saracens boss Mark McCall said on Tuesday that he believes the departure overseas of a player in his prime has wider implications for the Gallagher Premiership.

“I say that because Sam is 27, nearing his peak and is now making himself ineligible for England,” McCall said. “I kind of understand someone who is early 30s doing it after they’ve had their international career and want to experience something different. But to start losing the best young talent in the Premiership, someone like Sam, is a worry.”

Exeter rugby director Baxter, though, has adopted a philosophical stance.

“I think people sometimes get the wrong idea about this,” Baxter said. “I talk a lot to the players and staff in that you want people to be in an environment where they can thrive, work very hard, you want them to win and be successful for each other.

“The outcome of that is it means they are attractive propositions for other clubs who want a bit of that success. There are going to be some outcomes, and some of those are going to be that they are going to get big contract offers.

“It is not a negative when a player leaves you because someone wants them and can afford to pay them more than you can. It is negative when you fall out and a person moves for no positive reason at all. It’s very rare that happens here.

“Sam goes with our blessing for a great adventure, a great opportunity in France. He has still got a lot of good rugby left in him, and we had a long chat about it. He came to us first and explained. We haven’t been in massive, long, drawn-out contract debates about it. The figures are so far apart that there hasn’t really been a debate.”

The dire finances of Premiership clubs have resulted in the salary cap being reduced to £5million.

And, while necessary, reduced wages on offer to players has made it increasingly difficult for English clubs to compete with sides in France and Japan. The fear is that other members of Eddie Jones’ Test squad will follow Simmonds overseas.

The cap for Premiership clubs is due to return to £6.4m for the 2024-45 season.

Baxter added: “Even in the £6.4m cap, you could lose players, particularly to France. I suppose with a £5m cap, all of a sudden the attraction of staying in England lessens a little bit because of the difference in the figures.

“There is another argument that if England paid them more per game – that will cause some debate because England players are pretty well paid compared to some other nations – but that’s another way of bridging the gap. Players add up the whole package.

“It’s a challenge, and something that is going to happen for a little bit. But it is not keeping me awake at night. You have got to keep rolling.”

Content & Images from – Exeter Chiefs Rugby

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