Aviva Premiership Round 17 Review
Exeter top of the pile after home victory against Northampton
Bottom side London Irish pick up fourth win of the season
Saracens lose on their travels to Leicester
Bath 21-19 Newcastle Falcons
Tom Homer’s nerves of steel gave Bath Rugby back-to-back wins for the first time this season, with Mike Delany seeing one drop-goal attempt slip wide and another two charged down in a grandstand finish at the Rec.
Semesa Rokoduguni’s brilliant quick-fire double saw the hosts into the break ahead, despite Newcastle’s first-half dominance and Rob Vickers’ early score.
And despite there being no tries after the break, the Bath crowd were treated to a thrilling second-half and Homer sent over two penalties in the last ten minutes to win it, with Delaney’s four second-half penalties not enough for the Falcons.
Harlequins 15-21 Worcester Warriors
Worcester made it three Premiership wins in a row for the first time since March 2007 with victory at Harlequins.
First-half tries from centre Wynand Olivier and an opportunist score from captain GJ van Velze gave the Warriors an 18-9 lead at the break.
A cagey second half saw few clear openings for either side as Ben Botica and Tom Heathcote exchanged penalties.
Harlequins missed the chance to climb into the top four while Worcester look almost certain to avoid relegation.
Exeter Chiefs 20-12 Northampton Saints
Exeter Chiefs scored 17 unanswered second-half points as they fought back with victory over in-form Northampton to move top of the Premiership.
Saints arrived at Sandy Park on the back of five wins in six games and led 12-3 at the break thanks to tries from Lee Dickson and Ken Pisi.
Olly Woodburn scored in the corner to cut Northampton’s lead. Gareth Steenson kicked four penalties, to add to a first-half effort, to seal victory for Exeter.
Wasps 39-12 Sale Sharks
Jimmy Gopperth stepped up Wasps’ charge for the Aviva Premiership play-offs as he scored 17 points in a five-try 39-12 victory over Sale Sharks.
Dai Young’s third-placed team have now won six consecutive home matches and eight of their last nine in the top flight and lie behind only Exeter and Saracens in the standings.
With three of their remaining five matches against sides at the bottom end of the table, they are now strong favourites to secure a semi-final place for the first time since 2008.
London Irish 23-18 Gloucester
Bottom side London Irish battled to a 23-18 Aviva Premiership Rugby win over Gloucester Rugby to cut the gap to 11th-placed Newcastle Falcons to five points with five games remaining.
Blair Cowan’s late try and the boot of Greig Tonks sealed a victory at the Madejski Stadium that could prove vital in the final reckoning for Tom Coventry’s side.
Winless since February and having conceded 98 points in their previous three outings, the Exiles nonetheless entered the game with confidence after a good performance against table-toppers Saracens in New Jersey last weekend.
Irish made the most of their numerical advantage, when Cowan touched down following a good maul from the Exiles, Tonks coolly converting to give the hosts the lead once more at 20-18 with the latter sealing the game late on.
Leicester Tigers 21-13 Saracens
Freddie Burns led Leicester Tigers to a crucial Aviva Premiership victory at home to reigning champions and league leaders Saracens.
The fly-half scored a lovely second-half try and kicked a measured drop-goal late on to take his personal tally up to 16 points.
He pulled the strings as Tigers dominated possession, but they only finally put the dogged visitors away with a 76th-minute drop-goal.
Niki Goneva had earlier scored Leicester’s second try to open up an 18-3 lead that the hosts never really looked like giving away.