Lions Watch: Hogg stars for Chiefs as Roberts rolls back the years

A huge weekend of domestic rugby was dominated by the Premiership semi-finals as four teams were whittled down to two ahead of the showpiece final at Twickenham. [more]

Jamie Roberts

A huge weekend of domestic rugby was dominated by the Premiership semi-finals as four teams were whittled down to two ahead of the showpiece final at Twickenham.

Exeter Chiefs and Wasps will contest for the grand prize on October 24 after overcoming Bath Rugby and Bristol Bears, respectively, to secure a visit to England Rugby HQ.

Unsurprisingly, all four teams were packed with international quality, as well as several British & Irish Lions, including those with ambitions of making the 2021 Tour to South Africa.

Meanwhile, the second round of Guinness PRO14 action also saw one two-time Lions tourist produce a match-winning display to get his team off the mark in the competition.

And for those who missed any of the weekend’s action-packed drama, here’s the lowdown on the players who may have caught Warren Gatland’s eye with their performance.


Exeter Chiefs remain on course for a domestic and European double after defeating West Country rivals Bath Rugby in their bruising Premiership Rugby semi-final at Sandy Park.

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The visitors included three Lions in their starting line-up as Anthony Watson, Jonathan Jospeh and Taulupe Faletau looked to guide Bath to a first Premiership final since 2014/15.

But tries from Jonny Hill and Luke Cowan-Dickie put the Devonians 14-6 ahead at the break, with Wales fly-half Rhys Priestland keeping Bath in touch with a couple of penalties.

And two-time tourist Stuart Hogg, who had already played a key role in Cowan-Dickie’s try with a break deep into Bath territory, then provided the decisive moment after the interval.

The Scotland captain’s tactical kicking kept Bath pinned back and gave him the platform to score Chiefs’ third try – and his sixth for the club – after fine support play by Joe Simmonds.

Further tries from Hill and Ollie Devoto ensured the result was no longer in doubt as Exeter booked their place in the Premiership Rugby showpiece for a fifth consecutive year.


Eddie Jones can expect more calls for Jack Willis to start for England this autumn after the Wasps back-rower excelled again to guide his side to victory over Bristol Bears in Coventry.

Willis was awarded man of the match for his outstanding display at the Ricoh Arena, where the hosts ran in five tries to win 47-24 and reach their first Premiership final since 2017.

Tries from Malakai Fekitoa and Willis, plus three penalties from Jimmy Gopperth, gave the hosts a 23-5 advantage at the half-time break with Luke Morahan responding for Bristol.

Bristol closed the gap with a Harry Thacker try after the restart but Wasps took the game by the scruff of the neck with three more tries from Dan Robson, Zach Kibirige and Matteo Minozzi.

And while Harry Randall and Max Malins crossed to make the scoreboard look better for the visitors, there was no stopping Wasps from storming into the Twickenham showpiece.

Willis’ work at the breakdown was integral to the hosts’ success, while he also held up Callum Sheedy when he crossed the tryline, ensuring the 23-year-old stole all the headlines once again.


Two-time Lions tourist Jamie Roberts rose to the occasion on his home debut for Dragons as the centre’s man-of-the-match display carried the Welsh region to a 26-18 win against Zebre.

Roberts, who was Lions Player of the Series on the 2009 Tour, was at his rampaging best against the Italian outfit, playing a key role in two tries and scoring one himself in Newport.

Elsewhere, Warren Gatland was watching on as Ulster secured their second Guinness PRO14 win of the season despite captain Iain Henderson being shown a late red card against Ospreys.

Tries from Jacob Stockdale, Marcell Coetzee and John Cooney, who contributed 14 points in total, helped the Irish province to a 24-12 success against the Welsh side at the Liberty Stadium.

Lions tourists Alun Wyn Jones, Justin Tipuric and Rhys Webb were all in action for the hosts under Gatland’s gaze but they were unable to prevent Ospreys from slipping to defeat.

Meanwhile, James Lowe scored a try as Leinster beat Benetton 37-25 while CJ Stander crossed as Munster edged out Edinburgh and Cardiff Blues made it two wins from two as they defeated Connacht 29-7 at Rodney Parade.

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