Saracens stay top with derby win
March 31, 2013
Chris Ashton scored a try to help keep Saracens top with a win over London Wasps © PA Photos
London Irish 33 - 33 Sale Sharks Northampton Saints 8 - 36 Leicester Tigers Wasps 13 - 22 Saracens Worcester Warriors 18 - 24 Exeter Chiefs Bath Rugby 40 - 25 London Welsh Gloucester Rugby 17 - 15 Harlequins
Saracens kept hold of top spot in the Aviva Premiership with a strong performance to come from behind and beat London Wasps 22-13.
Christian Wade had scored an early try for the hosts that Stephen Jones converted, while Elliot Daly added two long-range penalties. However, that marked the end of Wasps' scoring as Saracens began to dominate proceedings.
Saracens fullback Alex Goode took advantage when Wasps switched off in defence to send Chris Wyles over and soon after Owen Farrell slotted two penalties, Chris Ashton grabbed Saracens' second try. Farrell then kicked another pair of penalties to take the match out of reach.
Leicester Tigers are now up to second after they put Northampton Saints to the sword with a 36-8 win in the East Midlands' derby. Manu Tuilagi scored a brace of tries for Tigers and while Stephen Myler crossed for the Saints, they were unable to compete with the physicality of the Tigers' pack. Wing Niall Morris and fullback Mathew Tait then grabbed two tries in two minutes late on to wrap up the try-scoring bonus point that takes them four points behind Saracens.
Reigning champions Harlequins are third after they slumped to a third loss under Conor O'Shea when Gloucester delighted a packed Kingsholm with a 17-15 win under the lights on Friday. Quins started the stronger and Rob Buchanan marked his Premiership debut with a try before wing Sam Smith swooped on a Nick Evans chip to grab their second. After half-time Gloucester began to take advantage of Harlequins fatigue following a five-day turnaround and sparked a comeback. Wing Jonny May raced over in the corner early on and after Quins hooker Joe Gray was sin-binned, Fijian flanker Akapusi Qera dived over from the back of the ruck to sew-up the win.
A late Nick MacLeod penalty salvaged a 33-33 draw for Sale against London Irish, which boosted both side's chances of Premiership survival. Irish are now 12 points clear of bottom side London Welsh and are closing in on safety despite failing to see out the win. Sale will have to sweat a little longer after relinquishing the 10-point lead they held early in the second half. But the three points accumulated in Reading put the Sharks eight ahead of Welsh with just three games remaining.
Bath made life even harder for bottom-placed London Welsh, with a 40-25 victory. Matt Banahan scored in the first minute and back rower Carl Fearns added a second soon after. Wings Semesa Rokodugun and Horacio Agulla also scored tries and there was a late effort from scrum-half Michael Claassens. Exiles scrum-half Alex Davies kicked six penalties, but they had to wait until the 69th minute before fullback Seb Jewell went over for a try, but by then it was too little too late for Lyn Jones' team.
At Worcester Warrior's Sixways, Exeter Chiefs kept their hopes of qualifying for the Heineken Cup alive with a late surge to win 24-18. After they led 14-6 at the break, Exeter allowed Worcester into the lead with a tries from Matt Kvesic and Josh Drauniniu. However, the Chiefs rallied and Dean Mumm's try and Gareth Steenson's conversion four minutes from time ensured they kept the European dream alive.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Huw Richards assesses where Wales are after a mixed Six Nations, with front row seats still very much available for the World Cup
John Mitchell lapped up the action on 'Sensational Saturday' - but warns not to expect a repeat come Rugby World Cup time later this year
Craig Dowd warns England, Ireland and Wales they should play to their strengths rather than those of the All Blacks and the Wallabies
Tom Hamilton runs the rule over just where the six countries stand ahead of the global gathering in September