Quins stay on course for play-offs
A review of the weekend's action in the Aviva Premiership as Harlequins staged a late rally to beat Exeter.
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Harlequins remain in contention for a place in this season's Aviva Premiership play-offs after securing a 30-29 victory over Exeter at Sandy Park which ended the Chiefs' hopes of a European play-off.
Exeter head coach Rob Baxter had asked to see some pride restored within the ranks with a passionate display in the club's penultimate league game of the season and he got just that as they led 16-5 at the break.
Chiefs fly-half Gareth Steenson had kicked three penalties and converted scrum-half Dave Lewis' 15th-minute try with Harlequins only response coming through a try from wing Ugo Monye.
The home side extended their lead when Steenson converted their second try from wing Matt Jess and added two penalties only for Quins to storm back thanks to tries from Nick Evans, Danny Care and Tom Guest with two conversions and two penalties added by Evans.
Worcester's relegation was all-but confirmed as Saracens eased to a 44-20 victory at Allianz Park.
Jackson Wray claimed a hat-trick, Chris Ashton backed up his Heineken Cup semi-final brace against Clermont with two more tries, and David Strettle crossed to complete a routine win.
Chris Pennell's brace and a score for Semisi Taulava came to nought for the Warriors, who will now end the season bottom of the Premiership.
The Sixways side now face a second Championship season in five years, provided the second-tier promotion contenders pass the Premiership's entry criteria.
Wing Marland Yarde and replacement centre Shane Monahan both scored try hat-tricks at Kingsholm but Gloucester's bid to take the seventh place this season and, with it, a Champions Cup play-off match, has gone.
And there was more bad news despite the 35-30 success over London Irish - with a month to go before England take on the All Blacks in New Zealand, Gloucester centre Billy Twelvetrees left the pitch with apparent damage to his ankle.
Gloucester only lost the lead once during the nine-try feast of sunshine rugby as back row Sione Kalamafoni and wing Charlie Sharples scored tries before Monahan's three.
Twelvetrees converted Kalamafoni's touchdown with fly-half Freddie Burns adding three penalties and a conversion.
Yarde scored two tries before the break, one converted by fly-half Ian Humphreys, and his side's fourth try bonus-point after setting up replacement Gerard Ellis for a score.
Humphreys added another conversion and penalty with Myles Dorrian booting a penalty.
Two tries from substitute Toby Flood helped Leicester secure their place in the top four of the with a 42-22 victory at Sale.
The result ended the Sharks playoff hopes, with successive second half scores from Michael Paterson, Henry Thomas and Johnny Leota proving to be mere consolation.
London Wasps overcame a dreadful start to virtually guarantee a place in the European Champions Cup play-off after beating Newcastle 44-38.
Early on, they trailed 17-0 but recovered to blitz the Falcons with 29 unanswered points before the interval.
Remarkably Newcastle rallied to regain the lead at 31-29 before Wasps regrouped to gain a deserved victory.
Bath and Northampton played out a dramatic 19-19 draw under the Recreation Ground floodlights on Friday.
Second-placed Saints are not absolutely sure of a home semi-final and Bath, in third, can still be denied a play-off place by Harlequins, who they meet next Saturday in the final round of games.
The highlight of an incident-packed game was a stunning individual try by Bath fly-half George Ford who was responsible for all his side's points. Saints' try was scored by left wing Jamie Elliott with Stephen Myler's boot responsible for the rest of their points.
The game ended in controversy when Courtney Lawes was flagged by touch judge Ashley Rowden for a late hit on Ford, within kicking range. But referee Matthew Carley overruled him after checking the TV replay.