Five things we learned in Round 4 of the Premiership Rugby Cup

**Excitement is building for the semi-finals of the Premiership Rugby Cup after a high-scoring penultimate round of group-stage action.**

More than 50 points were scored in all four matches this weekend, as Sale Sharks secured their place as Pool 2 winners while Gloucester Rugby displaced Bristol Bears at the top of Pool 1.

The semi-final line-up won’t be finalized until after Exeter Chiefs play the Cherry & Whites in a fortnight’s time, but the picture is a little clearer as the group stage nears its climax.

Here’s what we discovered as the young guns took to the stage…

**Sharks up for the cup once more**

Sale Sharks have been in inspired form in the Premiership Rugby Cup so far this season, with three wins and two bonus points propelling them to the summit of Pool 2.

Kieran Wilkinson has established himself as one of the emerging stars of their cup campaign, adding to a crucial contribution from the tee in Round 1 against Leicester Tigers with a two-try showing against Harlequins in Sharks’ 40-19 victory on Friday night.

The first came off the back of a devastating scrum drive which saw Harlequins retreating towards their own line from just outside the 22.

Wilkinson received the ball via an out-pass from Joe Simpson and swiftly pierced through the Quins midfield before outpacing full-back Cameron Anderson to score.

It was a terrifying turn of pace and his second effort was just as impressive, with a neat show and go paving his way to the line at the end of a memorable night for the academy product.

**Tigers with front-row strength in abundance**

Leicester Tigers showed the potential of their ‘bomb squad’ on Saturday at StoneX Stadium, with three tries coming courtesy of their front-row replacements in a 45-8 win over Saracens.

Tigers were in firm control by the time prop Francois van Wyk and hooker Tom Horton were introduced, with the visitors 24-8 ahead after 60 minutes in north London.

Emeka Ilione, who captained England’s under-20s during the summer, won a penalty at a breakdown on the Saracens 10-metre line, and the decision to kick for touch was rewarded with a score as Van Wyk made the final push over the whitewash.

The Tigers pack were rampant at this stage and a sixth team score soon followed with Horton steering a lineout drive to the line from some 20 meters out.

Their final score came from yet another set-piece, with Horton on the end of things once more.

**Morris the difference in West Country derby**

Jake Morris’ double ensured West County bragging rights stayed at Kingsholm after Gloucester Rugby’s 38-31 win over Bristol Bears which backed up their league success in October.

Winger Morris opened the scoring inside two minutes after the ball was recycled wide to allow the 22-year-old to go over in the corner.

Morris, whose father Simon made 104 appearances for Gloucester, notched his second at the beginning of the second half to open up a 31-10 lead for the hosts.

Bears enjoyed the better of the second half and set up a grandstand finish after James Williams crossed and Tom Whiteley added to his first-half score to make it 31-24 with 10 minutes to play.

But Seb Blake touched down to settle the nerves as full-time approached, with the bonus-point win giving Gloucester pole position in Pool 1 ahead of their trip to Sandy Park.

**Aussies key as Saints overcome Falcons**

Two Australians played a pivotal role in Northampton Saints’ 31-28 win over Newcastle Falcons at Kingston Park.

In an immensely physical battle, back row Angus Scott-Young used all of his experience to help the Saints pack gain the edge, with coach Matt Ferguson full of praise for the former Queensland Red and countryman James Ramm.

Ramm was menacing in attack and rock-solid under the high ball on an afternoon which saw Saints claim top spot in Pool 3.

Ramm and Tom Collins broke down the left in the opening stages of the second half and with a penalty advantage, hooker Robbie Smith scored to put his side 28-21 in front.

Joel Matavesi then kicked a brilliant penalty to extend their lead to 10 points and though Vereimi Qorowale scored a stunning solo score late on, the Saints defense held firm for a third competition win.

The post Five things we learned in Round 4 of the Premiership Rugby Cup appeared first on Premiership Rugby.

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