Harlequins win amid late drama
A fortuitous last-minute try from Tom Casson gave defending Aviva Premiership champions Harlequins a remarkable 31-28 victory over London Irish at the Madejski Stadium.
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Casson thought he had blown the opportunity in the last play of the game but the television match official ruled that what appeared to be a knock-on had in fact come off Casson's knee, making his subsequent grounding a legal one.
The victory takes Quins to the top of the table but the defeat was harsh on the Exiles who matched their opponents throughout and looked destined to claim a vital win behind Ian Humphreys' outstanding kicking display.
Tries from Danny Care and Tom Williams put Quins clear at 26-19 with just over 20 minutes remaining but back came the Exiles behind Humphreys' boot before Casson's late effort.
Guy Armitage scored the home side's only try.
In the day's other game, two superb tries from Christian Wade were the highlights of Wasps' 29-19 win over a dogged but limited London Welsh side at Adams Park.
The visitors had no answer to the pace and elusiveness of the 20-year-old wing, who must surely be in the future thoughts of the national selectors, having been omitted from the recently-announced squad for the autumn internationals.
Tom Varndell also impressed with two tries but Wasps should have won by a far greater margin. They were careless at times and it didn't help that Nicky Robinson missed five from his six attempts.
Phil Mackenzie and Franck Montanella crossed for the Exiles' tries, both in the second half, but they were not enough to earn the visitors a bonus point.
On Saturday, Saracens had knocked Northampton off the top of the table with as impressive a defensive display as Franklin's Gardens has seen for a long time as they won 16-6.
It was the Saints' first home league defeat of the season, and although they had plenty of opportunities the Saracens white line was rock solid for 80 minutes.
Alex Goode scored the only try of the game from turnover ball, with Owen Farrell kicking 11 points.
Saints mustered penalties from Ryan Lamb and Stephen Myler, but their woe was compounded by injuries to Myler, Courtney Lawes and Dylan Hartley, which will concern England.
Sarries finished the weekend second, level on points with Quins.
Freddie Burns made a mockery of his exclusion from England's autumn Test squad with an impressive performance as Gloucester extended their unbeaten Premiership record to six games by beating Leicester 27-21.
The Gloucester fly-half outshone opposite number Toby Flood - England's current number 10 - through a 17-point haul that included a superb solo try.
But Gloucester still had to dig deep in a gripping encounter, prevailing despite playing almost 10 minutes of the second period with 13 men after scrum-half Jimmy Cowan and full-back Rob Cook were sin-binned.
Tigers collected a penalty try in their absence, while Flood kicked 11 points and wing Scott Hamilton claimed an early touchdown, yet Gloucester deservedly triumphed through tries from Burns, wing Charlie Sharples and magnificent flanker Akapusi Qera.
Bath survived a remarkable second-half turnaround - and the bizarre dismissal of centre Dan Hipkiss while he was in the sin-bin - to claim the points against their West Country rivals Exeter in a nerve-tingling derby at a sold-out Recreation Ground that they won 23-15.
The Chiefs were outclassed in the first half as Bath ran in early tries by Ben Williams and Kyle Eastmond and could have gone in at half-time even further behind than 15-5.
But Exeter showed all their true character to fight their way back after the break and had Bath on the ropes until Stephen Donald opened up a 23-15 lead in the last two minutes of normal time. Even then, both sides went toe-to-toe for a full seven minutes of additional time in search of bonus points.
Sale slumped to a seventh successive league defeat of the season after Andy Goode orchestrated their demise at Sixways on Friday night.
Worcester's former England fly-half scored 18 points, including a decisive try 12 minutes from time that left Sale still searching for a first league win since April as they went down 23-16.
The Sharks doubled their Premiership points tally courtesy of a losing bonus after they matched Worcester on tries thanks to touchdowns by wing Mark Cueto and full-back Nick Macleod.
Fly-half Danny Cipriani added two penalties, but Worcester prevailed after Goode's late touchdown followed a scintillating effort early in the action from Warriors' Samoan wing David Lemi.
Goode, the second highest points scorer in Premiership history behind former Sale star Charlie Hodgson, ultimately made the difference with his goalkicking.
The ex-Leicester player slotted three penalties and two conversions for a five from six success-rate, which proved pivotal in denying Sale at least a share of the spoils.