Saracens five clear at the top
A review of the weekend's action in the Aviva Premiership, as Saracens moved five points clear at the top.
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Saracens moved five points clear at the top of the Aviva Premiership with a dominant 27-12 victory over third-placed Harlequins at Allianz Park.
Hooker Schalk Brits and flanker Will Fraser scored the tries with England fly-half Owen Farrell kicking their other 17 points.
Fly-half Nick Evans kept Harlequins in contention into the second half with four penalties from five attempts but the reigning Premiership champions were second-best as they strove in vain to repel the Sarries' attack - or breach their rock-solid defence.
Freddie Burns broke London Welsh hearts with a penalty five minutes from time that denied the relegation favourites a famous victory at Kingsholm against Gloucester on Saturday.
Wing Phil MacKenzie's 52nd-minute try and three penalties by fly-half Gordon Ross put Premiership basement club London Welsh on the verge of only their fifth league win this season.
It would have closed the gap to two points on Sale Sharks - 14-13 conquerors of Bath on Friday night - but Gloucester fly-half Burns had other ideas.
Although the England international missed four shots at goal, he booted five others to keep Gloucester's title play-off hopes alive hopes as they edged home 15-14.
London Welsh, in contrast, are now five points behind Sale with four games left, although that could change early next week.
Welsh have appealed a five-point deduction for fielding an ineligible player - scrum-half Tyson Keats - in the Premiership this season, and the result of their appeal hearing is expected to be made public during the next 72 hours.
London Irish took another major step towards survival with a comfortable 26-6 victory over a disappointing Worcester at the Madejski Stadium.
With this win Irish have at present a 10-point cushion over bottom club London Welsh and a five-point lead over 11th-placed Sale, with Irish still having to play those two clubs at home in their remaining four fixtures.
The game was a disappointing one for the annual St Patrick's celebration which saw an attendance of 19,523.
The driving line-out of the Irish was the dominant factor with all their tries coming from this facet of the game.
Matt Garvey, Halani Aulika and Chris Hala'ufia all claimed tries for the hosts, with Tom Homer adding a conversion and three penalties, while Worcester's reply was two first-half penalties from Andy Goode.
Northampton's forward dominance eventually told as Christian Day's last-gasp try saw them enhance their play-off aspirations and end Wasps' unbeaten home record as they won 26-24 at a snowy Adams Park.
Northampton bossed the close exchanges and a penalty try plus further scores from Lee Dickson and Dylan Hartley - as well as four points from Stephen Myler's boot - gave them a 19-16 half-time lead.
Wasps had twice been reduced to 14 men as Rhys Thomas and Tom Palmer went to the bin in the first half, but Tom Varndell's try, two penalties and a conversion from Stephen Jones and a three-pointer from Elliot Daly kept them in it.
And centre Daly's wonderful finish down the left, after another Jones penalty, briefly put them on course for a remarkable victory.
But there was still time for Ashley Johnson to become the third Wasp to receive a yellow card, and another punishing series of Saints drives ended with Day getting the crucial fourth try at the death, with Myler's conversion sealing the win.
Four penalties from Toby Flood steered Leicester to a 12-9 victory at Exeter in a tryless contest.
The Chiefs had to settle for a losing bonus point, after Gareth Steenson had kicked three first half penalties, as they remain in eighth place - but crucially 12 points outside the top four.
Mark Cueto's late try secured a priceless victory for Sale Sharks in their battle to avoid the drop as they overcame Bath 14-13 in horrific conditions on Friday night.
With survival at stake, a solid first half performance from Sale took them into the break 9-3 ahead through three Nick Macleod penalties.
Bath, who still harbour top-four ambitions, responded before the interval via Tom Heathcote's three-pointer.
Horacio Agulla's try then took the west country outfit into the lead, but Cueto's excellent finish sealed the win and took them six points clear of London Welsh.
A well-worked move saw Cueto collect the ball out wide and he showed express pace to break the gainline and touch down.