Saints edge out Exeter
A review of the weekend's action in the Aviva Premiership, including Northampton's victory over Exeter.
- Related Content
Luther Burrell and Dylan Hartley crossed for second-half tries as Northampton claimed a 24-21 victory over Exeter at Franklin's Gardens on Sunday.
It was not a convincing performance from the Saints as they let a 12-0 lead slip away to trail 13-12 at the interval, before their pack began to dominate.
The home side scored four tries to two but poor goal-kicking and ill-discipline allowed Exeter to remain in the match right up until the final whistle.
Christian Day and Phil Dowson both crossed in the first half for Northampton while Phil Dollman and Matthew Jess scored the visitors' tries.
On Saturday Leicester joined Harlequins at the top of the early standings with their second win in as many games this season.
The Tigers' England centre Manu Tuilagi produced a fabulous two-try performance in the 34-26 victory over Worcester.
It was Leicester's second successive bonus-point success, putting them leve on points with Quins, behind them only on points difference.
They scored five tries altogether, the others coming from Fiji winger Vereniki Goneva, lock Graham Kitchener and a penalty try.
Winger David Lemi and centre Alex Grove scored Worcester's tries with former England fly-half Andy Goode kicking 16 points.
Bath and Saracens also made it two wins from two matches with victories.
Wasps were made to pay for more costly errors at the Rec, going down 30-23.
A first-half try from Matt Banahan - who later went off with a worrying knee injury - had put the hosts 10-6 up at the break, and further scores from wings Tom Biggs and Kyle Eastmond, the latter's first since joining the club, sealed the win, with Olly Barkley adding 15 points with the boot.
Two Nicky Robinson penalties had kept Wasps in it and Tom Varndell and Christian Wade crossed in the second half but, as with their surrender of a 27-point lead against Quins last week, it was missed tackles and unforced errors that did for Dai Young's side.
Charlie Hodgson again returned to haunt Sale, whose first Premiership game at their new Salford City Stadium home ended in a 23-16 defeat to Saracens.
Hodgson, who joined Sarries just over a year ago, last season kicked his new side to victory with 20 points at Edgeley Park - the Sharks' home for the previous eight campaigns.
On this occasion the veteran fly-half, who retired from international rugby over the summer, landed 18 points.
Hodgson and opposite number Danny Cipriani, making his home debut following his move from Melbourne Rebels, kicked all the first-half points from penalties as the visitors led 12-9 at the break.
Wing Will Addison's breakaway try at the start of the second period briefly put the Sharks ahead, but summer signing Chris Ashton's third try in two games for Sarries and Hodgson's boot earned victory.
Elsewhere, fly-half Freddie Burns kicked 25 points and created the try which turned the match as Gloucester beat London Irish 40-31 to record their first win of the campaign.
They came from behind three times in the match to bounce back from the 24-19 opening-day home defeat by Northampton.
England number eight Ben Morgan, with his first try for his new club, winger James Simpson-Daniel and replacement flanker Akapusi Qera, touched down for Gloucester with Burns landing seven penalties and two conversions.
Right-wing Topsy Ojo scored the Exiles' opening try with Ireland scrum-half Tomas O'Leary and replacement prop Halani Aulika marking their home debuts with tries. Fly-half Steven Shingler kicked four penalties and two conversions for a 16-point haul.
On Friday night, Ugo Monye and George Robson scored two tries each as Quins cruised to a 40-3 bonus-point victory over London Welsh in the Twickenham-Richmond derby.
George Lowe touched down for Harlequins' fifth try and replacement fly-half Ben Botica marked his Aviva Premiership debut with a late score off the bench, while Nick Evans kicked 10 points.
After the fireworks of Harlequins' Premiership record comeback victory over Wasps at Twickenham last week, this was a far more routine win for the reigning champions.
London Welsh, who managed a sole penalty from fly-half Gordon Ross, have had a brutal introduction to the demands of the Premiership.