Sarries stroll to victory
A review of the weekend's action in the Aviva Premiership with Saracens comfortable winners on Sunday.
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Saracens capitalised on the early dismissal of England Saxons prop Nick Wood to overwhelm Gloucester 44-12 at Allianz Park and climb to the summit of the Aviva Premiership.
Wood received the second fastest red card in the league's history after stamping twice on the exposed head of openside Jacques Burger with just 73 seconds on the clock.
The quickest sending off belongs to Mike Watson of London Scottish, who lasted just 42 seconds against Bath in 1999.
The incident gave referee Wayne Barnes an easy decision to make and Wood trudged off, his hand clamped to his forehead in recognition of his moment of madness.
It left Gloucester facing the title contenders with 14 men for virtually the entire game and their resistance lasted only until the third quarter when Saracens pulled clear.
Tries from Joel Tomkins, Schalk Brits and Billy Vunipola and two from David Strettle produced Saracens' second bonus-point victory in two matches, while Owen Farrell kicked 17 points.
Bath inflicted a first defeat of the new season on champions Leicester as former Tigers player George Ford guided Gary Gold's men to victory.
Ford, an ex-world junior player of the year who quit Welford Road this summer, kicked five penalties and converted centre Jonathan Joseph's first-half interception try.
Matt Banahan also scored before the break, giving Bath a commanding 18-point interval advantage after Tigers were briefly reduced to 13 men when front-row forwards Tom Youngs and Logovi'i Mulipola received yellow cards.
Leicester, though, displayed admirable character and they fought back brilliantly through second-half tries by Steve Mafi, Ed Slater and Vereniki Goneva that ultimately secured a losing bonus point.
It ensured a pulsating climax in the 100th-year anniversary fixture between two of English rugby's fiercest rivals, but Bath did enough to make it two wins from two after they triumphed at Newcastle last week.
Exeter Chiefs bounced back to winning ways at Sandy Park as they outscored London Wasps by three tries to two to send the visitors to their ninth successive defeat in all competitions.
The Devon side, who suffered their largest Aviva Premiership defeat at Northampton Saints last time out, went inside at the break with a 16-12 lead after wing Tom James crossed for the only try of the opening 40 minutes.
Fly-half Gareth Steenson converted and added three penalties while Andy Goode replied with four for Wasps.
The Chiefs scored two further tries in the second half through flanker James Scaysbrook and a second from James, converted by Steenson.
But Wasps kept battling with tries from wing Christian Wade and flanker Ashley Johnson both converted by Goode.
A late Ian Humphreys penalty secured a barely-deserved victory for London Irish at Worcester.
The Exiles won just once away in the Aviva Premiership last season but some late ill-discipline from the hosts ensured they were able to immediately get off the mark this term on their travels.
Marland Yarde scored a pair of tries but it was Humphreys who was the match winner with four minutes left after Ed Shervington was penalised.
David Lemi and Ignacio Mieres scored the Warriors' two tries with the Argentinian adding eight points from his boot.
The eagerly awaited duel between rival England captains Chris Robshaw and Tom Wood was ruined by torrential rain as Northampton inflicted a 13-6 Aviva Premiership defeat on Harlequins on Friday.
A match that should have provided the stage for Robshaw and Wood to demonstrate to England head coach Stuart Lancaster who deserves to be at the helm this autumn instead deteriorated into a war of attrition at Twickenham Stoop.
The back rows are competing for their international places and the leadership duties against Australia, Argentina and New Zealand in November, but Lancaster's mind will be none the clearer after this arm-wrestle.
The heavy rain that began falling in the afternoon continued throughout and it took the strength of Northampton's giant Wales wing George North to help break the deadlock with the score tied at 6-6.
North, the Premiership's marquee signing of the summer, rode two tackles as Saints thrust deep into Harlequins' half.
A set-piece later Luther Burrell spun the ball wide to Jamie Elliot, who combined with James Wilson to send the Kiwi outside centre storming over for the decisive try in the 63rd minute.
Newcastle ripped up the week one formbook with a 15-14 victory over Sale at the newly named AJ Bell Stadium.
The Falcons responded impressively to being overpowered 21-0 in torrential rain at home to Bath last week on their return to the top flight.
They were equal to the Sharks, surprise 22-16 winners at Gloucester last weekend, in greasy conditions following pre-match rain.
The visitors' points all came from penalties, four by former Scotland fly-half Phil Godman and the clincher through his replacement in this match Rory Clegg.
Home captain Dan Braid scored the game's only try 10 minutes before half-time.