Irish ease relegation fears
A review of the weekend's action in the Aviva Premiership.
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London Irish took a huge step towards Aviva Premiership survival with a deserved 30-19 win over high-flying Wasps at the Madejski Stadium on Sunday.
Buoyed by an outstanding performance from number eight Chris Hala'ufia and 20 points from the boot of Tom Homer, they turned around a 16-11 deficit to finish comfortably on top.
Wasps were disappointing, being outgunned up front where they badly missed the firepower of number eight Billy Vunipola and failed to take advantage of Hala'ufia's spell in the sin-bin.
Shane Geraghty and Marland Yarde scored tries in each half for the hosts, with Christian Wade crossing for Wasps as Sam Jones added a conversion and four penalties.
Exeter plundered five tries and fly-half Gareth Steenson booted 22 points as they ended a five-match winless run with a bonus-point 47-16 victory over London Welsh on Saturday.
The Chiefs stay eighth and London Welsh are now just three points above bottom-of-the-table Sale Sharks.
The home side opened a comfortable 19-9 lead at the break thanks to four penalties from Steenson and his conversion of the only try of the half, which came from hooker Jack Yeandle.
Gavin Henson replied with three penalties, but the visitors were put to the sword in the second half.
Turther tries from skipper Tommy Hayes, Damian Welch, Sireli Naqelevuki and Jack Nowell, all converted by Steenson, steered the Devon side to their deserved bonus-point victory.
Saracens produced a stunning second-half fightback to beat great rivals Leicester 32-27 in snowy conditions at Welford Road.
Trailing 17-6 at half time, Saracens scored four tries in a one-sided second-half to stay in second place in the Aviva Premiership.
It was their fourth successive win at Leicester, who have suffered two successive defeats having lost at champions Harlequins last week.
Saracens' tries came from wingers David Strettle (two), James Short and full-back Chris Wyles, with fly half Charlie Hodgson kicking 12 points.
Julian Salvi and Dan Bowden scored for Leicester, who were also awarded a penalty try right on full-time when Strettle deliberately knocked on and was sin binned.
Two tries from Jamie Elliott kept Northampton in the hunt for a top-four finish after a pulsating finish against Bath at Franklin's Gardens.
With 20 minutes to go, Northampton looked to be heading towards a routine home win at 20-9 in front, but young referee Luke Pearce sparked the game into life by awarding a controversial penalty try and when centre Semesa Rokoduguni followed up with another score, Bath led 23-20 with 10 minutes to go.
But England discard Ben Foden sent Elliott over for his second try with seven minutes left and Northampton clung on for a vital win.
Former England international Nick Easter touched down for one of Harlequins' three tries as they extended their lead at the top with a 30-21 victory over Sale Sharks.
Cameron Shepherd's try took Sale into an early lead, but Quins controlled the rest of the half with Tom Williams touching down and Ben Botica adding eight points with the boot.
Botica continued his fine form in the second period with another penalty before converted scores from Easter and Charlie Matthews sealed a fine victory, their 12th in 13 games.
Richie Vernon and Sam Tuitupou scored consolation efforts in the last few minutes for Sale, but the result means they still reside at the bottom of the league.
An astonishing finish at Kingsholm saw Gloucester record a remarkable 29-23 win over Worcester with a late penalty try.
With 20 seconds remaining, Jonny May burst away on the left flank and reached the visitors' 22 before attempting to step inside full-back Errie Claasens, who felled the flying wing with a trip.
On the advice of the TMO, Claasens was sent off and Gloucester awarded a penalty try, converted by Rob Cook, which broke Worcester hearts as they seemed set for a shock win which would have allayed their relegation fears.
Henry Trinder croosed for the hosts, while Robert Cook landed a conversion and four penalties with Ryan Mills also kicking a penalty.
Joshua Matavesi and Alex Grove scored tries in each half for the Warriors, with Andy Goode converting both both and adding two penalties before replacement Danny Gray also kicked a penalty.