Saracens back on top

  • Last Updated: March 23 2014, 16:19 GMT

A review of the weekend's action so far in the Aviva Premiership, as Saracens leapfrogged Northampton at the top.

  • Phil Dowson is stopped by the Sale defence
  • Adam Thompstone crosses for Leicester 

Leicester consolidated fourth place in the Aviva Premiership with a six-try thumping of Exeter at Welford Road on Sunday.

The champions produced one of their best performances for some time to demolish the newly crowned LV= Cup winners 45-15 with three tries in each half.

Fit-again England centre Manu Tuilagi scored on his first home appearance since September with the other tries coming from Logovi'i Mulipola, Vereniki Goneva, Adam Thompstone and David Mele (two), with Owen Williams kicking 13 points.

Exeter, who had captain Dean Mumm sin-binned in the first half, replied with tries from Jack Yeandle and Ian Whitten, with Henry Slade kicking five points.

Saracens moved to the top of the table in front of a record crowd for a club match.

A total of 83,889 people watched at Wembley as Sarries thrashed Harlequins 39-17, a result which took them back to the summit following an earlier shock defeat for Northampton at Sale.

Quins rested their England contingent at Wembley and paid the price by losing ground in the race for a place in the play-offs.

Chris Robshaw, Danny Care and Mike Brown were given the weekend off following their involvement in the RBS 6 Nations and Quins desperately missed their three most influential players.

In contrast, Saracens started Owen Farrell and Mako Vunipola, both of whom featured against Italy last Saturday.

Farrell was superb as he masterminded Quins' seventh defeat of the season behind a dominant pack, finishing with a try, three conversions and two penalties in an individual haul of 17 points.

The England fly-half and man of the match, along with Vunipola, was replaced in the final quarter but by that point Saracens were already beyond reach.

Chris Ashton, George Kruis, Jacques Burger and Marcelo Bosch also ran in tries in a resounding victory.

Earlier on Saturday, Sale pulled off a shock 19-6 win at home to Northampton to keep their hopes of a top-four finish alive.

Saints struggled to find a way through the Sharks defensive line as they were restricted to just two goals from Will Hooley.

Sharks, on the other hand, showed a lot of attacking enterprise in the first half, with tries from Mark Cueto, Marc Jones and Tom Brady sealing the win.

Matt Garvey came back to haunt his former side as he touched down at the death to hand third-placed Bath a bonus-point 44-23 win over London Irish at the Madejski Stadium.

Kyle Eastmond, former London Irish flyer Anthony Watson, David Wilson and Garvey all crossed the whitewash for the visitors while George Ford chipped in with 24 points from the tee.

London Irish, cheered on by the majority of the 22,000 fans in attendance, fought all the way and Topsy Ojo and Chris Hala'ufia scored tries, with James O'Connor adding 10 points with the boot and Shane Geraghty knocking over a penalty.

But it was not enough for the win as they slipped to their third-straight league defeat.

In the day's other game, full-back Rob Cook scored 20 points in Gloucester's 40-33 victory over Newcastle but the Falcons showed that sides should never give up as they grabbed two crucial bonus points at Kingsholm.

Cook scored one of Gloucester's five tries and kicked three penalties and three conversions as the Cherry and Whites cruised to a 30-point lead at one stage.

Flanker Sione Kalamafoni, lock James Hudson, centre Mike Tindall and wing Jonny May got the others but Newcastle, whose only scores in the first half were a Chris Yorke try and a Phil Godman conversion, turned the game on its head after the break.

Tries from replacement hooker George McGuigan, flanker Andy Saull, full-back Alex Tait and wing Noah Cato plus three conversions by replacement Joel Hodgson gave them a try bonus point and a losing bonus point.

On Friday, relegation favourites Worcester suffered a survival hammer-blow at Sixways as Wasps stole an unlikely late 13-11 win.

The Warriors led 11-6 approaching the final minute after flanker Sam Betty's second-half try looked to have secured four priceless points.

Wasps had been the Warriors' last Premiership victims on March 1, 2013, since when Worcester had gone 21 league games without a win.

But Wasps prop Jake Cooper-Woolley touched down from close-range, and former Worcester fly-half Andy Goode converted with the game's final kick to edge Wasps home.

Worcester are now 10 points adrift of 11th-placed Newcastle with just five league games left, and they will travel to Tyneside on Sunday week knowing they have to win.

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