Gloucester battle for deserved win
A review of the weekend's action in the Aviva Premiership, as Gloucester gained a hard-fought win.
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Gloucester moved away from the Aviva Premiership relegation zone with a deserved win over London Irish in a poor game at the Madejski Stadium on Sunday.
The game only came alive in the last 10 minutes when the home side staged a late rally - but they left themselves with too much to do and Gloucester just hung on.
Despite being outscored by three tries to one, 14 points from the boot of Billy Twelvetrees, three more from Freddie Burns and a solitary try from Jonny May was enough to win the battle between two sides badly lacking in confidence.
Fergus Mulchrone and Eamonn Sheridan (2) scored the hosts' tries.
On Saturday, Saracens wrapped up an easy 26-8 victory to remain in charge at the top of the table and leave opponents Worcester staring ominously at the relegation trap door.
The Londoners were favourites to win by a bigger margin but their four tries, which came via wing David Strettle, hooker Schalk Brits, full-back Alex Goode and fly-half Charlie Hodgson were good enough.
The stand-off converted three of the touchdowns.
Worcester tried to add to a sole penalty from outside-half Ignacio Mieres and try by number eight Leonardo Senatore during a scoreless second period, but it was all in vain.
Leicester held off a tremendous fightback by Sale to beat the Sharks 30-23 at Welford Road.
It was a much needed boost for the reigning champions who started the day in seventh place after last week's thrashing at Saracens.
They owed the win to a great first half performance which earned them two tries from Edward Slater and Adam Thompstone and a 20-6 half-time lead.
Star of the show was young Welsh fly-half Owen Williams who had a fabulous first 40 minutes and finished with 15 points from a faultless kicking display.
But Sale hit back after the interval with two tries of their own from Mark Cueto and Charlie Ingall and a late penalty by replacement Joe Ford earned them a bonus point.
However, the forwards put the Tigers back in control when they earned a penalty try from a sixth successive scrum on the Sale line.
Six-try Northampton reasserted their title credentials by fending off Bath 43-25 to maintain second spot with their sixth straight league victory.
George Pisi, Jamie Elliott, Samu Manoa and George North backed up a try brace for lock Christian Day as Saints denied Bath their 12th consecutive win in all competitions.
The league's most accurate goalkicker Stephen Myler added 13 points to ensure Bath left Franklin's Gardens without even a losing bonus point.
Bath raced into a 13-0 lead thanks to Kyle Eastmond's try and two penalties and a conversion for George Ford.
But the Blue, Black and Whites' best record in a decade came crashing down as Northampton scored twice to turn the game when Bath prop Paul James was in the sin-bin.
Day's second score opened the second half in style for Saints before Bath rallied with a try for Rob Webber.
Manoa and Leroy Houston traded tries as Bath battled for a final-quarter turnaround, before North added the killer blow on the stroke of full-time.
Harlequins protected fourth place but were unable to produce the bonus point that looked certain following a dominant first half as they beat Exeter 22-6.
A crowd of 74,827 at Twickenham saw Nick Evans, Charlie Walker and Mike Brown score tries as the 2012 champions entered the interval 19-3 ahead.
But they could only then manage a penalty from Evans as the entertainment produced in the first half of 'Big Game Six' was replaced by an arm wrestle that finished 3-3 on the scoreboard.
Former All Blacks fly-half Evans endured a mixed afternoon, kicking two conversions and a penalty but missing eight points from the kicking tee.
Hooker Dave Ward finished man of the match after proving a constant thorn in Exeter's side at the breakdown and there were also notable performances from centre Matt Hopper and wing Charlie Walker.
Exeter's hopes of replacing them in fourth may have been foiled, but director of rugby Conor O'Shea will be ruing the failure to claim all five points.
Wasps put the disappointment of last Saturday's last-minute defeat firmly to rest with a hard-fought 17-12 victory over struggling Newcastle at a wet and windy Kingston Park on Friday night.
Hit by injury and illness, the Falcons were 10-3 down at the break and Wasps, with the wind at their backs in the second half, never looked in any danger from Newcastle to move up and away from the basement battle.
Sam Jones and Ashley Johnson scored the visitors' tries, while Andy Goode kicked the other points.
Newcastle, at least, ended their Premiership try drought through Noah Cato and a last-gasp effort through skipper Will Welch to nail a losing bonus point.