Saracens make big statement
A review of the weekend's action in the Aviva Premiership as Saracens halted Bath's winning start to the season.
- Related Content
Saracens issued a statement of intent in their challenge for the Aviva Premiership title after easing to a 31-17 victory over Bath to maintain their perfect start to the season.
By the end of the first quarter the hosts led 17-3 and when the interval arrived they had powered 31-3 ahead to all but guarantee their third successive five-point haul in three matches.
David Strettle crossed twice and there were also tries for Alex Goode - making his comeback from shoulder surgery - and Matt Stevens with Ashton kicking all four conversions and a penalty as Bath's triumphant opening to the Premiership was blown apart.
On Saturday, Leicester made it an uncomfortable return to Welford Road for their former player and boss Dean Richards with a bonus point 31-6 victory over Newcastle.
It was Richards's first visit to Leicester for five years following the 'Bloodgate' scandal which earned him a three-year ban, and his first as Newcastle's director of rugby.
But champions Leicester were much too strong for the side promoted to the Aviva Premiership last season and won comfortably with tries from Jordan Crane, Graham Kitchener, Blaine Scully, Dan Bowden and Thomas Waldrom.
Former Newcastle fly-half Toby Flood kicked two conversions, his replacement Owen Williams one, while in reply Falcons fly-half Rory Clegg slotted a penalty and a drop goal.
England centre Billy Twelvetrees kicked a controversial late penalty to give Gloucester their first victory of the season and leave Northampton crestfallen.
Saints looked to have done enough to move top of the league when wing Jamie Elliott struck a minute from time following stunning approach work by juggernaut Wales wing George North, with fly-half Stephen Myler's conversion edging them ahead.
But Northampton were mysteriously penalised at a scrum deep into injury time, and Twelvetrees struck from 35 metres for a 26-24 verdict.
Exeter scored both of their tries in the final 20 minutes as they stormed home to victory over London Irish at the Madejski Stadium.
The visitors rattled on 15 unanswered points in the final quarter, including tries to Dean Mumm and Ben White, to secure a 29-23 success.
On Friday, Worcester crashed to their third successive defeat of the season after a Chris Robshaw-inspired Harlequins coasted home 37-13 at Sixways.
First-half tries from England internationals Danny Care and Joe Marler left Worcester with a mountain to climb, but they could find no way back as Quins skipper Robshaw dominated the close-quarter exchanges and repeatedly secured possession for his team.
Nick Evans chipped in with 14 points from the boot, and all Worcester could muster was two Ignacio Mieres penalties and a late penalty try that Mieres converted as their 37-13 reversal left them with just one point from three starts.
Danny Cipriani came off the bench to inspire Sale to a narrow 26-22 victory over Wasps as the Sharks withstood a late fight-back.
The controversial stand-off replaced Nick Macleod after 19 minutes and racked up 21 points to ensure his side had a big enough lead to defend.
Cipriani kicked two first-half penalties and a conversion and set up Mark Cueto's try.
Andy Goode's single three-pointer was Wasps' only response before the break as they struggled for continuity.
Cipriani, who was playing his first game of the season having been left out of the previous two squads, crossed after the break to give the hosts a seemingly comfortable 20-3 advantage.
But the visitors responded well as Ashley Johnson touched down before they were awarded a penalty try.
Although Cipriani kicked another penalty, Josh Bassett's score gave Goode the chance to put them ahead with the conversion, but the fly-half missed and Sale's mercurial pivot sealed the win with a last-minute three-pointer.