Ruthless Leicester dispatch Northampton
April 14, 2012
Mark Durden-Smith, Joe Simpson, Austin Healey and Ben Kay preview the play-offs%]
Toby Flood was in spectacular form to help Leicester to a 35-21 win over the Northampton Saints at Franklin's Gardens. Flood, who has dropped to third in the England fly-half pecking order, proved he was back to his best with a 25-point haul as Leicester demolished their great rivals at a sell-out Franklin's Gardens, chalking up a fifth successive bonus-point win, a Premiership record. lood scored two of the Tigers' four tries in the win - he also kicked three conversions and three penalties - with the others coming from wingers Alesana Tuilagi and Horacio Agulla.
"It was hugely disappointing," admitted Jim Mallinder, Northampton's director of rugby. "We had a good start, conceded two quick tries and were playing catch-up from there. The Exeter game is massive for us if we are to make the top four. We need to dust ourselves down and get ready for it."
Harlequins eased their way past London Wasps 33-17 at the Twickenham Stoop to cement their spot in the Aviva Premiership play-offs and complete a wretched week for the visitors. Quins skipper Chris Robshaw was joined on the scoresheet by Ugo Monye, George Robson and Jordan Turner-Hall as Quins - for whom Rory Clegg kicked 13 points - secured a bonus-point victory.
Newcastle shocked Gloucester to record a stunning victory and keep their survival hopes alive with a 29-20 win at Kingsholm. The Falcons' first league away win for almost 14 months was secured through tries by flanker Ally Hogg and replacement back-row forward Mark Wilson, while captain Jimmy Gopperth kicked 19 points. Gloucester wiped out a 19-6 interval deficit to lead by a point with nine minutes left, but Newcastle finished strongly and are now just four points behind 11th-placed Wasps with two games remaining.
Bryan Rennie runs in the second of Exeter's four tries during their win at Worcester © Getty Images
Exeter left it late to dispatch the Worcester Warriors 31-26 and book their place in next season's Heineken Cup in the process. With less than two minutes of the game remaining they trailed 26-19 before tries from Phil Dollman and Sireli Naqelevuki and a conversion from Gareth Steenson broke the Warriors' hearts. Exeter also overcame the loss of two players to the sin-bin in the second half with wing Gonzalo Camacho fortunate to escape with a yellow card for a dangerous tip tackle.
Saracens kept up their charge for a home semi-final with a hard fought 28-19 win over London Irish at the Madejski Stadium. The Exiles have now crashed to seven straight defeats, despite the best efforts of Delon Armitage who grabbed a brace. Armitage, who had been on the bench for the previous two matches, struck in each half for Irish, whose other nine points came from three Tom Homer penalties. Saracens won the match on the back of an immaculate kicking display from England fly-half Charlie Hodgson.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
John Taylor argues the world's best XVs players must be given a chance to play in the Olympics to increase the appeal of the game
The All Blacks' form is not a peaking issue, but Hansen must threaten to wield his axe, to demand improvement, Craig Dowd writes
"It has been the World Cup that smashed down the gender barriers of the sport." Tom Hamilton looks back at a remarkable tournament
A selection of the best pictures from England's historic World Cup triumph in Paris as they beat Canada 21-9