Leicester shocked Saracens 28-20 while London Irish claimed an important 22-9 win over Worcester in the Premiership on Sunday.
London Irish 22-9 Worcester Warriors
London Irish picked up only their second win of the Premiership season as they beat closest relegation rivals Worcester 22-9 on Sunday.
This result at the Madejski Stadium moves the Exiles 12 points behind the Warriors, but their escape from the trapdoor remains unlikely.
Just one try was scored in the tense game as the boot of Greig Tonks proved vital to London Irish as he slotted five penalties in total.
Tonks’ first came in the seventh minute before he doubled up in the 19th, both coming after centre Chris Pennell had opened the scoring.
London Irish would then cross through Piet van Zyl on 27 minutes after he collected his own chip for a try that was converted by Tonks.
And despite a penalty either side of the break from Pennell, Tonks made sure Irish would pick up a much-needed four points at home.
For London Irish:
Try: Van Zyl
Pens: Tonks 5
Yellow Card: Paulo
Pens: Pennell 3
Saracens 20-28 Leicester Tigers
Leicester Tigers picked up a deserved 28-20 victory over an out-of-sorts Saracens in their Premiership clash at Allianz Park on Sunday.
Leicester enjoyed a dream first period as they went in 21-6 to the good after scoring three tries, leaving Saracens struggling for answers.
Their first came after 10 minutes and it was Manu Tuilagi who got it, breaking from the fringe of the ruck for a walkover that made it 7-0.
Tigers fly-half Matt Toomua missed a chance to make it 10-0 soon after but Saracens scrum-half Ben Spencer made no mistake for 7-3.
But again weak fringe defence from Saracens led to Tigers’ second try, this time Greg Bateman racing in for 14-3 with 33 minutes played.
Spencer cut the gap to eight points two minutes before the break but Leicester weren’t done, Telusa Veainu evading tackles for a key try.
Saracens had it all to do in the second 40 and wing Nathan Earle failing to ground over the line and then dropping one before the whitewash one minute later summed up their afternoon. It looked like Leicester were now nailed on for a victory as Sarries were blowing opportunities.
Salt was rubbed into their wounds too when loose ball was gathered by Tuilagi, who handed to Jonah Holmes for a try that made it 28-6.
And despite a try double from impressive replacement fly-half Max Malins, both via slalom runs, amid a strong finish from Sarries, they finished outside losing bonus-point territory on a dismal day for Mark McCall’s charges.
Tries: Malins 2
Cons: Lozowski 2
Pens: Spencer 2
Tries: Tuilagi, Bateman, Veainu, Holmes
Cons: Toomua 4
Yellow Card: Rizzo
Also three last minute tries gave Exeter and Bath victories at home whilst Wasps earned a credible draw at Gloucester. Harlequins poor recent form continued as they were thumped at home by Newcastle.
Exeter Chiefs 31-30 Northampton Saints
A late Thomas Waldrom try with the clock in the red ended Exeter’s recent run of defeats and sent Northampton home deflated as they suffered defeat by a solitary point.
Exeter surrendered top spot recently and Rob Horne’s early try looked to set the tone for what appeared to be another frustrating afternoon for the Chiefs. The Australian benefitted from a swift break down the left for Saints.
The home side hit back in typical fashion when a driving maul was hauled down illegally by the visitors resulting in a penalty try. Stephen Myler, a brief replacement for Piers Francis, kicked a penalty to briefly out Saints back in front before Alec Hepburn scored after consulting the TMO.
Ben Foden then pushed Northampton back into the ascendancy before the break when some excellent play saw the former England back score from a move that started in their own half.
Harry Mallinder gave the visitors the perfect start to the second period when he extended the lead to 24-14. Owing much to an excellent show and go from Francis who found Horne and then Mallinder.
Steenson and Francis exchanged penalties briefly with the latter of the two notching six points to Steenson’s three. A Don Armand try, courtesy of some fluid play between both forwards and backs, reduced the gap to six and set up a tense finish.
That finish certainly came as the home side peppered the Saints try line and, with time up, Waldrom was the man to crash over thus allowing Joe Simmonds to kick the winning points.
Tries: Penalty, Hepburn, Armand, Waldrom
Cons: Steenson, Simmonds 2
Tries: Horne, Foden, Mallinder
Cons: Francis 3
Pens: Francis 2, Myler
Gloucester 25-25 Wasps
A highly entertaining encounter between two sides with serious top four ambitions ended all square as Jimmy Gopperth’s 81st minute conversion earned Wasps a 25-25 draw in the West Country.
The contest at Kingsholm appeared to be getting away from Wasps after Richard Hibbard and Charlie Sharples both score in the opening 40. The first came courtesy of a maul coming from a lineout and the second owing much to some great work from Jason Woodward.
Eight points from the boot of Billy Twelvetrees and six from Wasps centre Jimmy Gopperth made the score 18-6 at the break.
Two former Gloucester players now applying their trade in Coventry bought Dai Young’s men straight back into the contest when first Dan Robson, and then Thomas Young both crossed to bring the scores level after Gopperth missed the second conversion.
Gloucester’s Henry Trinder, playing today on the wing, then put the Cherry and Whites back in front by seven points with ten minutes remaining when Twlevetrees scored his second conversion of the day.
Johan Ackermann’s side’s impressive home record looked set to claim another scalp with time running out but Wasps, without many of their star individuals, refused to be beaten and when Christian Wade went over out wide Gopperth had an Exeter-like kick to tie the game.
As he did that day and as he did late in Toulouse last year, the New Zealander lashed it through the posts to earn Wasps a share of the spoils.
Tries: Hibbard, Sharples, Trinder
Cons: Twelvetrees 2
Pens: Twelvetrees 2
Tries: Robson, Young, Wade
Cons: Gopperth 2
Pens: Gopperth 2
Bath 33-32 Sale Sharks
A see-saw encounter in Somerset eventually saw Bath win 33-32 after James Wilson scored a conversion with a minute on the clock after Zach Mercer had gone over.
Wilson kicked two early penalties to put Bath 6-0 up before Denny Solomona was sent under the posts by scrum-half Faf de Klerk who notched the conversion to put Sale on top.
Solomona’s wing colleague Marland Yarde scored shortly after thanks to some great play off a Sharks lineout to increase the gap to six points. Wilson and South African De Klerk traded penalties before Mercer put Todd Blackadder’s side into the lead by a point.
Wilson kicked the conversion after some great work by Taulupe Faletau had sent the England apprentice over the whitewash. De Klerk then kicked two penalties to put Sale 21-16 up. Bath responded with another try when Josh Bayliss’ effort was given after consultation with the TMO.
De Klerk kicked a further six points to Wilson’s three to five Sale a narrow 27-26 lead heading into the final ten minutes. Solomona ensured that the visitors had their lead extended when he scored an excellent try.
With 79 minutes on the clock though, after some sustained pressure, Mercer scored his second of the contest to set up a grand stand finish for Wilson. The fly-half notched the conversion to give Bath the victory by one point and send the Sharks home with only a losing bonus point.
Tries: Mercer 2, Bayliss
Cons: Wilson 3
Pens: Wilson 4
Tries: Solomona 2, Yarde
Con: De Klerk
Pens: De Klerk 5
Harlequins 10-28 Newcastle Falcons
Harlequins’ poor recent run continued as they were beaten at home for the second time in a fortnight as Newcastle recorded a bonus point triumph.
With Dean Richards’ side reigniting their play-off ambitions following a mid-season blip it was somewhat surprising when James Horwill scored early on to give Quins a 7-0 lead after Marcus Smith converted.
The away side bounced back through Callum Chick who eventually scored after several phases of pick and go. Flood, who kicked three conversions out of three, notched his first to bring the scores level.
A Marcus Smith penalty early in the second-half put the home side back into the lead before three Newcastle tries in 15 minutes decided the contest. Kyle Cooper was again the beneficiary of some forwards possession as he crossed from close range.
Chris Harris scored the Falcons third after a lineout turnover saw him score down the right and it was Sinoti Sinoti who landed the bonus point score when he was presented with a one-on-one contest that he dully appreciated. Joel Hodgson, on for the excellent Flood, slotted the conversion to make it a very worthwhile journey south for Newcastle.
Tries: Chick, Cooper, Harris, Sinoti
Cons: Flood 3, Hodgson