Sarries prosper from Quins slip
A review of the weekend's action in the Aviva Premiership, as Saracens leapfrog Harlequins at the top of the table.
- Related Content
Saracens took full advantage of Harlequins' slip-up on Saturday by beating London Welsh 35-14 to return to the top of the Aviva Premiership table.
The champions were shocked by Exeter on Saturday but their closest rivals rarely looked likely to make the same mistake against the struggling Exiles.
The visitors battled bravely - particularly given the upheaval they have suffered off the pitch this week - but Saracens had too much pace and power for them, particularly as the game wore on.
Exeter pulled off a stunning upset as Harlequins were sent crashing to a 27-16 defeat at the Stoop on Saturday.
Quins were marginally the better side for much of the contest but aside from an Ugo Monye try that put them in front early on, they could not break down a stubborn visiting defence.
The hosts led with 12 minutes remaining but the Chiefs, inspired by fly-half Gareth Steenson, produced two late tries from Damian Welch and Luke Arscott as their bid to qualify for next season's Heineken Cup was given a boost.
The result means Exeter have done the double over the Quins after they also defeated the champions 42-28 at Sandy Park in October, while Harlequins' slip means Saracens can replace them at the summit with victory over London Welsh on Sunday.
Leicester got their bid for a home play-off semi-final back on track by thrashing Sale 48-10 at Welford Road.
The five points from the six tries to one victory was a major boost for the Tigers after successive defeats by the top two clubs, Harlequins and Saracens.
Leicester dominated the bottom club from start to finish, and there were two tries each for lock Ed Slater and centre Matt Smith, one from full-back Mathew Tait and a penalty try.
Fly-half George Ford finished the match with a 100 per cent kicking record, converting all the tries and kicking two penalties for a tally of 18 points.
Replacement Andy Powell scored Sale's only try with Danny Cipriani kicking a conversion and Nick Macleod a penalty.
Jamie Elliott ran in a hat-trick as Northampton moved into the play-off places with a six-try 40-14 demolition of London Irish at Franklin's Gardens.
The Irish backline was a constant threat in the first half, but the power of the Northampton pack took over after the break as the home side scored three tries in 15 minutes either side of half-time to settle the contest.
Elliott's hat-trick makes it five tries in two games for the winger, as Samu Manoa, Soane Tonga'uiha and Gerrit-Jan van Velze also dotted down for Northampton.
Guy Armitage scored a consolation try for the Exiles, but they will have rued some missed opportunities before the home pack built up a head of steam.
On Friday, Gloucester hooker Darren Dawidiuk was sent off for a tip-tackle as Bath edged past their West Country rivals 31-25 in a thrilling derby at the Recreation Ground.
Former England captain Mike Tindall, making his 150th appearance for Gloucester since leaving Bath, roused his 14 men into thrilling fightback from 31-18 down, looking for the converted try that would snatch victory.
But Bath had too much control up front and celebrated a first Premiership victory over the Cherry and Whites for three seasons.
They were awarded a penalty try in the first half and followed up with further touchdowns from Tom Biggs and Kyle Eastmond. Fly-half Tom Heathcote kicked four penalties and two conversions.
Henry Trinder and Jonny May (2) scored the Gloucester tries with Freddie Burns converting one and Rob Cook adding two penalties and two conversions.
Worcester recorded their first Premiership victory since Christmas and dented Wasps' play-off prospects in the process.
The Warriors' run of five successive league defeats deservedly ended after first-half tries from Chris Pennell and David Lemi underpinned an impressive 29-23 success at Sixways.
Worcester effectively ended any lingering relegation fears by moving 13 points above bottom club Sale Sharks with just five games left, as number eight Blair Cowan's 60th-minute touchdown left Wasps reeling before scrum-half Jonny Arr's close-range effort secured a first bonus point Premiership victory for five months.