Your rugby evening headlines for Saturday, June 4.
A big day for the Gatland family
Warren Gatland came out on top in his meeting with his old Wales center stalwart Jamie Roberts in Hamilton today – with the help of his son! Gatland’s Chiefs defeated Roberts’ Waratahs 39-15 in a Super Rugby Pacific quarter-final at FMG Stadium Waikato.
The 35-year-old Roberts, who left the Dragons in January to take up an opportunity in Sydney, came on as a replacement for the Waratahs after 66 minutes. But, by then, the Chiefs – for whom former Wales and Lions boss Gatland is director of rugby – were already pretty well clear. They claimed five tries in all, with scrum-half Brad Weber crossing twice, while there were six successful shots at goal from Gatland’s son Bryn, who kicked 14 points from fly-half.
The Chiefs will be away to fellow Kiwis, the Crusaders, in next Friday’s Super Rugby semi-final in Christchurch, with the Blues hosting the Brumbies in Auckland the following day in the other semi.
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Wales and Lions star Taulupe Faletau was unable to sign off on a winning note in his final match for Bath before joining Cardiff.
Making his 72nd and last appearance for the west country club, he shared in a 43-27 defeat to Worcester in a basement battle at Sixways.
That means Bath finish the season bottom of the Gallagher Premiership table, although they won’t go down to the Championship as there is no relegation.
No 8 Faletau, now 31, joined them from the Dragons in 2016. He will link up with Cardiff after his break following Wales’ summer tour of South Africa.
Dramatic finish and Leinster run riot
There was the most dramatic of finishes to the United Rugby Championship play-off quarter-final between the Bulls and the Sharks this afternoon.
The outcome was settled by an 84th minute drop goal from Bulls fly-half Chris Smith which earned his team a 30-27 victory in the all-South African clash at Pretoria’s Loftus Versfeld.
Smith slotted six kicks at goal for a 15-point haul and it was his boot that proved the difference, with both sides claiming three tries.
Winger Madosh Tambwe, flanker Marcell Coetzee and center Cornal Hendricks went over for the Bulls, with Springboks hooker Bongi Mbonambi, scrum-half Jaden Hendrikse and back row Sikhumbuzo Notshe responding for the Sharks.
It was 13-13 at the break and all square again at 27-27 as the clock went red, only for Smith to step into the pocket and land the decisive drop.
The Bulls will now be away to Leinster in the semi-finals next weekend, with the Dubliners having destroyed Glasgow 76-14 in a one-side quarter-final at the RDS. Reigning league champions Leinster claimed no fewer than 12 tries in all, with hooker Dan Sheehan and winger Jordan Larmour both crossing twice.
In the other semi-final, Ulster – who defeated Munster 36-17 in Belfast on Friday night – will travel to either the Stormers or Edinburgh.
Biggar into the Premiership semi-finals
Wales skipper Dan Biggar guided Northampton into the Gallagher Premiership play-off semi-finals as they pipped Louis Rees-Zammit’s Gloucester for the last remaining spot.
The Saints outside-half pulled the strings expertly and converted seven shots at goal in a 65-26 victory over Newcastle at Franklin Garden’s.
His class was too the fore and his kicking out of hand was pin-point, with his right foot having a hand in a number of tries. He also showed lovely hands in the build up to two other scores and made a try-saving tackle in the first half.
That means his team have secured the all-important fourth place finish in the table, with Gloucester having to settle for fifth despite thumping Saracens 54-7 at Kingsholm, with winger Rees-Zammit touching down for one of their nine tries.
Northampton will now be away to table-topping Leicester in the semi-finals next Saturday, with Saracens home to holders Harlequins earlier in the day.
Welsh starlet caps breakthrough season
Young Welsh second row Dafydd Jenkins rounded off a breakthrough season by helping Exeter defeat reigning Premiership champions Harlequins 47-38 in a 13-try thriller at Sandy Park.
The son of former Swansea and Neath back-row forward Hywel Jenkins, he is still only 19 but he has plenty of game-time this term and was handed another start this afternoon.
A product of Porthcawl Comprehensive School, who then attended Hartpury College, he is combining life at the Chiefs with being a student at Exeter University, where he is studying Sports Science.
He played for Wales U20s last year and was included in the squad for this season’s Six Nations but didn’t feature in the tournament due to his club opportunities with Exeter, where he is clearly highly rated. At 6ft 7in and close on 18 stone, he has all the required physical attributes, along with a good game understanding.