Wasps survive relegation scrap
May 5, 2012
The ESPN team discuss Newcastle's future following their defeat to Wasps
The battle for Aviva Premiership survival and the semi-final play-offs reached a dramatic conclusion on Saturday afternoon.
London Wasps avoided relegation from the Premiership despite slumping to a 14-10 defeat to fellow strugglers Newcastle at Adams Park. Basement side Falcons needed at least a 24-point win over 11th-placed Wasps - and also to deny their opponents a losing one in the process - to climb off the bottom of the table. As a result, tries from James Fitzpatrick and Peter Stringer along with two conversions from Jimmy Gopperth were not enough with Christian Wade's ninth league try of the campaign helping to preserve Wasps' top-flight status. The Falcons' fate now rests on the outcome of this season's second-tier Championship title race, which will not be concluded until May 30. Should the winner not meet the Premiership entry criteria then Newcastle may yet avoid the drop.
Harlequins secured top spot with a 24-10 win over an under strength Sale Sharks side at Edgeley Park on Saturday. England internationals Danny Care and Mike Brown went over in the first half as Quins established a 15-3 advantage at the interval, with Nick Evans adding a conversion and a penalty. Tommy Bell responded for Sale with a penalty before two second half kicks from Evans extended the visitors' advantage. Will Addison crossed for the Sharks to give them hope, but a further penalty sealed the win for Harlequins and a home semi-final in the play-offs.
Quins will play Northampton after the Saints moved into the post-season in style with a 42-14 victory over Worcester. Chris Ashton's Franklin's Gardens farewell lasted only 19 minutes but it was long enough for the England winger to score the try which set the Saints on their way. England fullback Ben Foden, winger Paul Diggin and replacement forwards Teimana Harrison and Alex Waller scored Northampton's other tries with fly-half Stephen Myler kicking ten points and his replacement Ryan Lamb booting seven.
Both sides were left disappointed at Vicarage Road as Exeter's play-off hopes disappeared and Saracens failed to claim a home semi-final despite a 40-22 victory. The home side trailed 10-9 at the interval but two tries early in the second half from James Short and Rhys Gill gave the hosts the impetus they needed. The bonus-point victory, secured by further tries from Alex Goode and Charlie Hodgson, was not enough to secure Saracens a home draw in the final four because of Leicester's home win over Bath - as a result they now face a difficult trip to the Tigers next weekend.
Newcastle's Matt Thompson contemplates relegation © Getty Images
Billy Twelvetrees shone for the Tigers after replacing the injured Toby Flood at half-time and helped Leicester turn a 3-0 half-time lead into a 28-3 victory at Welford Road. Twelvetrees kicked 10 points and created two of the Tigers' three tries in a win which earned them a semi-final next Saturday at home to Saracens, the team they have played in the last two finals.
London Irish ran in six tries to down Gloucester 52-18 at the Madejski Stadium in a game that will be partly remembered for red cards to Jim Hamilton and David Paice. The game was effectively over by half-time as tries from Darren Allinson, Sailosi Tagicakibau and Jonathan Joseph, plus a 19-point haul from Tom Homer, put Irish 34-11 ahead. Homer kicked another penalty while substitute Marland Yarde (two) and the departing Delon Armitage added further tries to complete the rout.
Two Tom Voyce tries and eight points from Freddie Burns were all Gloucester had to show for their efforts as they suffered a sixth-straight defeat to ensure a sad end to Mike Tindall's career with the Cherry and Whites. But the game will be best remembered for the huge brawl that saw Gloucester lock Hamilton and Irish hooker Paice dismissed.
Aviva Premiership semi-finals:
Saturday, May 12:
The final will be played on Saturday, May 26 at Twickenham
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