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Irish players involved as English Premiership has first midweek games

36-year-old Gareth Steenson helped Rob Baxter’s Exeter to victory last night.

Gareth Steenson helped Exeter to victory last night.
Gareth Steenson helped Exeter to victory last night.
Image: PA

THE GALLAGHER PREMIERSHIP’S first midweek games were played out last night as the English league looks to finish out its 2019/20 campaign by October.

Former Leinster hooker Bryan Byrne started for Pat Lam’s Bristol in their enthralling 22-25 defeat to Exeter Chiefs at home last night, with the 26-year-old Irishman completing 50 minutes of the game.

Byrne signed permanently for the Bears on a one-year deal before the resumption of rugby, having briefly joined them on loan before lockdown, and has now started two of their three games since the restart of the Premiership.

Former Ireland U19 international Piers O’Conor was also in the starting Bristol team, while ex-Ireland U19 Sevens cap Callum Sheedy was in the number 10 shirt.

Experienced out-half Gareth Steenson was an important figure for the Chiefs as they underlined their status as top dogs in the league despite fielding what was essentially a second-choice team.

The ever-reliable 36-year-old Steenson kicked two conversions and two penalties for Rob Baxter’s impressive Exeter team. Former Ireland U21 international Steenson is due to retire from playing at the end of this delayed 2019/20 campaign, moving into coaching with the Chiefs, but he will hope to sign off by helping them to another title.

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In the other Premiership fixture yesterday, former Connacht out-half and USA international AJ MacGinty was in the number 10 shirt as Sale Sharks beat Wasps 20-11 away from home. Dublin native MacGinty kicked five penalties for Steve Diamond’s side as they moved back up to third in the table.

In this evening’s action, former Ulster and Ireland U20 hooker Niall Annett starts for Worcester Warriors as they host Harlequins [KO 6pm]. 

His fellow ex-Ulster man Callum Black is on the bench for the Warriors as they look to get back to winning ways. Another former Ulster player, the Irish-qualified Brett Herron, starts at out-half for Paul Gustard’s Quins, who now count Jerry Flannery among their coaching staff. 

Declan Kidney‘s London Irish are away to Leicester [KO 6pm], with former Ulster and Ireland out-half Paddy Jackson coming back into the Exiles’ starting team.

The other two games this evening see Gloucester take on Mark McCall‘s Saracens [KO 6pm], while Bath are away to Northampton [KO 7.45pm, BT Sport 2].

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