Review of the weekend's action in the Aviva Premiership

Rugby Union
Michael Young bursts clear for Newcastle
Michael Young bursts clear for Newcastle

A review of the weekend's action in the Aviva Premiership as Exeter extended their advantage at the top after beating Saracens 24-12 on Sunday.

Aviva Premiership results

Sunday, March 4

  • Worcester 5-34 Leicester
  • Wasps 24-16 London Irish
  • Harlequins 20-5 Bath
  • Exeter 24-12 Saracens

Saturday, March 3

  • Northampton 25-34 Sale
  • Gloucester 20-21 Newcastle

Sunday

Exeter extended their advantage as Aviva Premiership leaders and took another major step towards a home play-off by subduing Saracens 24-12 at Sandy Park.

A top-of-the-table clash - despite both sides being deprived numerous players through injuries and international commitments - did not disappoint.

Chiefs fly-half Joe Simmonds - younger brother of England back-row forward Sam Simmonds, who featured off the bench after suffering a shoulder injury three weeks ago - kicked four penalties and provided a key assist for full-back Phil Dollman's try.

Exeter's superior scrum was rewarded with a second-half penalty try, while Saracens claimed touchdowns from flanker Ben Earl and centre Marcelo Bosch, with scrum-half Ben Spencer converting Earl's 33rd-minute touchdown.

Leicester kept alive their hopes of an Aviva Premiership play-off place with a convincing 34-5 win over Worcester at Sixways.

Tigers' bonus-point success lifted them to within three points of Newcastle, who occupy fourth position with five league games remaining.

The impressive Telusa Veainu scored two tries for Leicester, with Jonah Holmes, Greg Bateman and Manu Tuilagi each grabbing one and Matt Toomua converting three and kicking a penalty.

Worcester's best player, flanker Alafoti Faosiliva, scored the home side's try but it came in an error-ridden team performance.

Fortunately for them, London Irish were also defeated so the gap at the bottom remained at 12 points.

Tom Cruse's 76th minute charge-down try enabled Wasps to seal a nervy 24-16 home win over London Irish.

Wasps claimed three tries to the visitors' two, but were pushed all the way by opponents who produced a spirited second-half display.

As a result, Dai Young's team are unbeaten in their most recent four-match block of Premiership action, and have climbed above Newcastle and Saracens into second place with five rounds of regular season action remaining.

England prop Kyle Sinckler was among the try scorers as Harlequins claimed their first Aviva Premiership victory of 2018 with a hard-fought 20-5 success over Bath.

It ends a four-game losing streak in the league for Quins, who were much-improved defensively in a match which was admittedly short of top quality.

While they can hope to use this result as the start of a better run of form, the loss is a damaging one for Bath's play-off hopes, as they remained five points adrift of the top four following a wasteful display.

Saturday

Denny Solomona scored a first-half hat-trick as Sale claimed victory at Northampton for the first time in 12 years with a 34-25 win.

The Sharks had lost on their past nine visits to Franklin's Gardens, with their losing streak stretching back to May 2006.

But a superb first-half showing that saw Solomona run riot and Marland Yarde also register a try left the Saints shell-shocked and trailing 31-6 at the interval.

Northampton did eventually respond after the break with Michael Paterson, Rob Horne and Heinrich Brussow scoring, but it was too little, too late, despite two Sale sin-bins.

Newcastle took a huge step towards securing an Aviva Premiership play-off place as Gloucester lost for the first time at home in the league this season.

Falcons' 21-20 win saw them move up to third in the table and extend their advantage over fifth-placed Gloucester from two to four points with five league games remaining.

Ally Hogg and Micky Young scored tries for Newcastle, with Joel Hodgson kicking three penalties and a conversion.

Jason Woodward, David Halaifonua, Mark Atkinson and Lewis Ludlow scored Gloucester's tries but crucially all were unconverted.

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