Leicester leave it late
A review of the weekend's action in the Aviva Premiership.
- Related Content
Champions Leicester claimed a late 11-8 victory at home to struggling Gloucester to stay in touch with the Aviva Premiership's top four.
Gloucester looked on course for their first win at Welford Road since 2007 when they led 8-3 with just 11 minutes left of a poor game thanks to a try by winger Charlie Sharples and a Rob Cook penalty.
But the Tigers, who started the day four points behind fourth placed Harlequins, got out of jail with a 69th minute try by full-back Mathew Tait and a Toby Flood penalty two minutes from time to bag the win.
Captain Jonathan Thomas saw red as Worcester's winless run continued on Saturday with a 30-14 defeat at Northampton, who reclaimed top spot.
Thomas was sent off for punching Northampton number eight Sam Dickinson, who was one of three men to be yellow carded in a frantic encounter at Franklin's Gardens.
Wayne Barnes, refereeing a Saints game for the first time since the Premiership final last May, also sin-binned Leonardo Senatore and Sam Betty as the Warriors failed to keep their cool.
Northampton earned the win thanks to a penalty try and two efforts from GJ van Velze, who will join the Warriors next season, with Stephen Myler adding 15 points with the boot.
Worcester, who had been ahead early on, responded with a David Lemi try and nine points from full-back Chris Pennell.
George Ford showed he is ready and on form if required by England as he booted 12 points and showed excellent game control in Bath's 27-23 win at Exeter.
It was a timely reminder from the fly-half as England head coach Stuart Lancaster prepares for the RBS 6 Nations clash with Ireland next Saturday at Twickenham.
Exeter led 13-10 at half-time at Sandy Park after a late try from Ben White, converted by Gareth Steenson who also kicked two earlier penalties. Bath's reply had come through an Ollie Devoto try, converted by George Ford who also added a penalty.
Ford kicked a further penalty and added the extras to second-half tries from Kyle Eastmond and Nick Abendanon as Bath extended their 36-year unbeaten run against Exeter.
For the home side, the replies after the interval came in the shape of an Ian Whitten try, converted by Steenson who also added a penalty.
London Irish scrum-half Tomas O'Leary could face a hefty ban after being sent-off for stamping in his side's 23-20 victory over Wasps at Adams Park.
The second-half incident, where O'Leary put his foot down on James Haskell's head, marred an otherwise tough local derby.
Rugby Football Union disciplinary rules indicate a ban of two to nine or more weeks for stamping on an opponent but trampling on the head is likely to be at the higher end of the scale.
There were some good scores in the game as Irish went ahead with tries from fly-half Ian Humphreys and hooker David Paice against one touchdown for wing James Short during the first-half.
All Wasps' other points came via five penalties from fly-half Joe Carlisle, while full-back James O'Connor landed two penalties and two conversions and centre Shane Geraghty kicked a late drop-goal for the Exiles.
Two late penalties from Ben Botica gave Harlequins a scarcely-deserved 18-14 win over lowly Newcastle at The Stoop.
Quins were trailing 14-12 with five minutes to go before those Botica penalties broke Newcastle's hearts.
For much of the game, the visitors were the better side; they were dominant in the scrum but could only manage one try through Alex Tait.
Rory Clegg kicked three penalties but crucially missed three which would have given his side a vital win in their battle against relegation.
An out-of-sorts Quins had to rely on tries from Ollie Lindsay-Haque and Sam Smith and eight points from the boot of Botica.
On Friday night, Charlie Hodgson kicked all of Saracens' points as they secured a narrow 15-10 triumph over Sale Sharks at the AJ Bell Stadium to reclaim top spot.
Hodgson's penalty gave Sarries an early 3-0 lead but Danny Cipriani's three-pointer and Marc Jones' try saw Sale go into the interval 10-3 ahead.
The Sharks couldn't sustain the pressure in the second period as the 2011 champions dominated the game and their stand-off added four further penalties.