Premiership report: Northampton go top, while Exeter and Worcester also win

Northampton celebrate their big win over Leicester
Northampton celebrate their big win over Leicester

Northampton Saints returned to the top of the Premiership, beating second bottom Leicester, while Exeter and Worcester picked up home victories.


Premiership result

  • Exeter 38-3 Wasps
  • Northampton 36-12 Leicester
  • Worcester 20-13 Sale

Exeter 38-3 Wasps

Alec Hepburn celebrates his try for Exeter
Alec Hepburn celebrates his try for Exeter

Exeter Chiefs backed up their newly-appointed Gallagher Premiership title favourites tag as they secured a 38-3 bonus-point victory over struggling Wasps.

Tries from England internationals Ben Moon and Luke Cowan-Dickie, a penalty try, a superb Tom O'Flaherty effort and a powerful score from an Alec Hepburn surge saw Rob Baxter's men banish the ghosts of a shock loss in this fixture seven months ago.

Wasps made the worst possible start when Dan Robson's kick from just outside the 22 got caught in the swirling Sandy Park wind and drifted out on the full.

The Chiefs swarmed to claim a line-out ball and after patient phase play, loose-head prop Moon drove over from a couple of metres out for a try Gareth Steenson improved from the tee.

Jacob Umaga scored his first points since signing a new senior deal at Wasps in midweek by slotting over a penalty, but Steenson cancelled it out with his second successful kick at goal after 20 minutes.

The tone was set for the second half when Exeter profited from a loose line-out throw, Don Armand cut a great angle inside the 22 only to be brilliantly hauled down by the brave Umaga near his own five-metre line.

But there was no such reprieve for Wasps 13 minutes after the break when hooker Cowan-Dickie rolled over from a line-out close to Wasps' line. Steenson's third successful kick of the day opened a 14-point lead.

With both locks - Will Rowlands and Charlie Matthews - off injured, Wasps' scrum, that started so strongly, fell apart, culminating in Kieran Brookes being sin-binned and Exeter earning a penalty try from a dominant drive on the hour mark.

Still a man up, Exeter further stretched their lead and secured a bonus point with 13 minutes remaining when O'Flaherty cut a beautiful line to ghost under the posts.

Back to 15 men, Wasps still had no answer to the Chiefs as Hepburn drove over with four minutes remaining to complete an emphatic 38-3 home win.


Northampton 36-12 Leicester

Fraser Dingwall scores for Northampton against Leicester
Fraser Dingwall scores for Northampton against Leicester

New Zealand centre Matt Proctor crossed twice on his first Gallagher Premiership appearance as Northampton Saints demolished local rivals Leicester Tigers at Franklin's Gardens.

The Saints marched to a 36-13 bonus-point win - a fourth derby win on the spin - as Proctor's double was added to by Api Ratuniyarawa, Tom Collins and Fraser Dingwall.

The Northampton backs had a field day as the likes of Rory Hutchinson and George Furbank flourished in the heat of the East Midlands derby.

Leicester, who had brought back all of their England World Cup players, could only respond through Guy Thompson's first-half try and eight points from the boot of George Ford.

It means the Tigers remain second bottom, while Northampton are back at the Premiership summit with Bristol still to play on Sunday.

Both teams failed to make anything stick during the opening 12 minutes, but Leicester were able to go in front thanks to a Ford penalty from in front of the posts.

Northampton tried to exert some pressure and they did just that, using a scrum in the Tigers 22 to eventually allow Cobus Reinach to send Proctor through a non-existent Leicester defence.

Tigers were dealt another blow as wing Jonah Holmes was forced off with an injury, but the away side scored soon after as flanker Thompson got the ball down.

Ford kicked to make it 10-7, but the scores were soon level as Grayson landed a penalty earned by Alex Waller's rampaging run into the Tigers 22.

Saints then took the lead once more as fine combination play between Furbank and Hutchinson allowed Proctor to spin and score a second in the corner.

Grayson converted to a huge roar and Northampton were now firmly on top.

They scored again just before the break as Hutchinson released Proctor who ran a lovely line before giving the ball to man of the match Taqele Naiyaravoro for a trademark offload for the onrushing Ratuniyarawa.

Grayson converted again to make it 24-10, but Leicester responded after the restart. Ford landed a penalty after lock Alex Moon had been sin-binned for deliberately slapping the ball out of Leicester hands.

But it did not ruin Northampton's momentum and after Leicester's lineout woes continued, Reinach sent a long pass out to Collins, who bagged his team's bonus-point try.

Leicester were struggling to summon up any sort of response and there was still time for it to get worse as Dingwall, just on for Proctor, finished off another flowing move.

Grayson converted to make it 36-13 and Northampton continued to pile the pressure on until the final whistle, with Leicester left battered and bruised.


Worcester 20-13 Sale

Ashley Beck runs in to score for Worcester
Ashley Beck runs in to score for Worcester

Sale lock Jean-Luc Du Preez was sent off as the Sharks crashed to a 20-13 defeat to Worcester at Sixways.

In the 39th minute the South African put his shoulder into the face of Worcester's Graham Kitchener.

As a result of the blow, the Warriors' lock received medical treatment with a number of his side's players expressing their dissatisfaction to Du Preez and after a number of replays, the South African was ordered off.

At that stage Sale had scored two tries from Faf De Klerk and Chris Ashton to Worcester's none and looked favourites for victory but Du Preez's action ruined their chances.

Worcester were able to take control with Perry Humphreys and Ashley Beck scoring tries. Duncan Weir converted both and added two penalties.

AJ MacGinty's late penalty gave Sale a losing bonus point.

The first 15 minutes were very poor as both sides made elementary handling errors. As a result there was no flow to the game with referee Luke Pearce not helping matters by awarding a penalty at each of the first four scrums.

A score did not appear imminent but it came from nowhere when De Klerk intercepted a telegraphed pass from Francois Venter to run 70 metres for the opening try.

Venter did his best to make amends with a couple of powerful thrusts before Sale's Simon Hammersley was yellow carded for a high tackle on Worcester wing Melani Nanai.

Warriors capitalised with a Weir penalty but that was the only damage done to the scoreboard in the full-back's absence.

However knock-ons from Weir and Sam Lewis allowed Sale to maintain the pressure and they picked up their second try when Ashton won the race to collect a well-judged chip ahead from Rob Du Preez and touchdown.

Then came the sending off and Weir stepped up to kick the resulting penalty to leave his side trailing 10-6 at the interval.

In the 54th minute, Warriors took the lead for the first time when Mills and Weir combined sweetly to send Humphreys away to score.

Within three minutes, Warriors had a second try when Chris Pennell ripped the visitors' defence to shreds and Beck was on hand to race in.

Sale could have folded but MacGinty's penalty rewarded their spirit and secured a valuable bonus point.

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