No happy return for Richards
A review of the weekend's action in the Aviva Premiership as Dean Richards and Newcastle lost to his former team Harlequins.
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There was no dream return for Dean Richards against his former club Harlequins.
In fact, it turned out to be a real nightmare as Quins hammered Newcastle 35-9 - their highest score at Kingston Park - claiming a a four-try bonus point in the process, two of them coming from wing Sam Smith.
The result keeps Quins in the Aviva Premiership's top four.
Despite being just seven points adrift at the break, Newcastle's lack of cutting edge was painfully obvious - they have only three tries in the Premiership this season - and they were handed a lesson in finishing by Quins with skipper Nick Easter in imperious form in an unaccustomed role as second row.
George Kruis crashed over to score the match-winning try for Saracens as the leaders left it late to beat Sale.
Saracens had to battle every inch of the way for the 24-19 victory over Sale, orchestrated by a virtuoso performance from England reject Danny Cipriani.
The fly-half showed his class by scoring Sale's try, a conversion, immaculately-struck drop goal and a penalty in an excellent all-round performance.
Full-back Rob Miller contributed a long-range penalty and Cipriani's late replacement Nick Macleod secured Sale's losing bonus point - the very least they deserved - with his last-kick penalty.
Saracens' other try came from right-wing Jack Wilson with number 10 Charlie Hodgson contributing 14 points with a conversion and four penalties.
Northampton kept the pressure on Saracens with victory at winless Worcester.
Lock Samu Manoa, wing Tom Collins and back row Tom Wood made Northampton's 33-10 win look more comfortable than it was in the final quarter, as fly-half Stephen Myler kicked four penalties and all three conversions.
The banana skin was under the Saints' feet for a long time as they failed to click against a Warriors outfit who caused them trouble but, eventually, could not end their now nine-game losing streak in the league which further increases the heat of relegation on Worcester.
George Ford kicked all Bath's points to give them their eighth straight win in all competitions at a sold-out Recreation Ground.
The young fly-half did not miss a single kick, converting six penalties and also dropping a goal to cement Bath's third place in the table.
Exeter pushed them all the way in a typically hard-fought West Country derby, scoring two tries through locks Damian Welch and Dean Mumm, while fly-half Gareth Steenson kicked the rest of their points.
London Irish could not mark Topsy Ojo's 200th appearance for the club with victory as they fell to a 19-12 defeat to Wasps at the Madejski Stadium.
At half-time Wasps held a slender 13-9 lead as a penalty try and the boot of veteran Andy Goode cancelled out two penalties from James O'Connor and one from Shane Geraghty.
And, although Goode, who finished the match with 14 points, and O'Connor traded kicks after the interval, experience won over youth as the visitors held on, condemning the Exiles to their six straight loss in all competitions.
Seventeen points from the boot of Toby Flood condemned Gloucester to their fourth home defeat of the season as Leicester secured a 22-17 victory.
Dan Bowden was Leicester's sole try-scorer as poor goal kicking from Gloucester proved their downfall.
Rob Cook converted Jonny May's try with Freddie Burns slotting over from his own breakaway try but both men missed two penalties apiece as Gloucester went down to another morale-sapping defeat.