Premiership play-off picture confirmed
May 4, 2013
Gloucester's Henry Trinder is shackled by the Exeter defence during an epic clash at Sandy Park © Getty Images
The line-up for this season's Aviva Premiership semi-finals has been confirmed following the final round of the regular season with Saracens set to take on Northampton and Leicester poised to tackle Harlequins.
Saracens, already assured of a home tie in the play-offs ahead of the final round of the regular season, cemented their place at the top of the table with a 23-14 victory over Bath to end their rivals' hopes of securing Heineken Cup rugby next season. The home side were nowhere near their best but still did enough to claim the win with tries from England internationals Chris Ashton, Mako Vunipola and Owen Farrell. The visitors, who looked set to be overrun as they trailed 11-0 early on, scored tries through Rob Webber and Horacio Agulla but Tom Heathcote missed with two easy penalties to extinguish any hopes of Heineken Cup rugby for the west country outfit next season.
Leicester made sure they would return to Welford Road for their semi-final with a 32-20 victory over London Irish. Leicester scored five tries through Tom Croft, Ben Youngs, Mathew Tait, Vereniki Goneva and Toby Flood to remain on course for a record ninth successive Premiership final and set up a semi-final showdown with Harlequins next weekend. Irish's tries were scored by Alex Corbisiero, Topsy Ojo and Marland Yarde.
Harlequins turned on the style to claim a 22-19 victory over Northampton. Right wing Tom Williams, hooker Rob Buchanan and centre Tom Casson scoring tries with fly-half Nick Evans landing two conversions and a penalty. Saints, narrowly denied after rallying from 22-5 down, replied with tries from left wing Jamie Elliott, hooker Dylan Hartley and lock Christian Day, on his 100th appearance for the club. Fly-half Stephen Myler converted two of the tries but had earlier missed two penalties and a conversion.
The game of the day played out at Sandy Park where Exeter claimed a 40-39 win over Gloucester to book their place in next season's Heineken Cup. The Chiefs were out-scored five tries to three but fly-half Gareth Steenson steered the hosts home with a 25-point haul including a last-gasp penalty to seal the win.
London Welsh brought the curtain down on their spell in the top flight with a 33-22 win against Worcester Warriors - their first league victory since December. Referee Matthew Carley, taking charge of his first Premiership match, issued five yellow cards and could easily have sent off Welsh's Russian lock Kirill Kulemin for a punch on Worcester's Chris Jones. But a try bonus point victory was deserved for Welsh who got tries through wing Dan Caprice, number eight Alfie To'oala, fullback Tom Arscott and wing Nick Scott, with fly-half Gordon Ross adding 13 points with three penalties and two conversions.
A late penalty from Nick MacLeod was enough to give Sale a 21-20 win over Wasps at the Salford City Stadium. Christian Wade took his tally to 13 Premiership tries but it was not to be for the visitors, though, as Macleod kicked his third three-pointer five minutes from time to snatch the win. Tom Brady and Dan Braid also went over for the Sharks while 10 points from the boot of Tommy Bell gave Wasps a 20-18 advantage late on.
Aviva Premiership Rugby semi-finals:
Saturday, May 11
Sunday, May 12
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