A review of Sunday's Premiership action as Exeter thrash Worcester, Harlequins beat Northampton and Gloucester defeat Leicester in a thriller.
Exeter 59-7 Worcester
Forwards Jonny Hill and Sam Simmonds both scored hat-tricks as Exeter extended their lead at the top of the Premiership table to 14 points with a nine-try demolition of Worcester at Sandy Park.
Jack Nowell, Jacques Vermeulen and Stuart Hogg also crossed for Exeter, with Joe Simmonds adding seven conversions in a 59-7 victory.
Worcester, who selected virtually a reserve side to take on the leaders, could only muster a solitary late try from Ashley Beck in response, converted by Billy Searle, which prevented them recording a record league defeat.
Harlequins 30-17 Northampton
Harlequins’ discarded England contingent took centre stage at The Stoop by inspiring a 30-17 Gallagher Premiership victory that prolongs Northampton’s post-lockdown troubles.
A bonus-point win that keeps Paul Gustard’s team on the fringes of play-off contention was inspired by Mike Brown, the nation’s most capped full-back, whose quick thinking created tries for Nathan Earle and Chris Ashton.
Ashton finished a move that started when Brown schemed his way out of a defensive line-out inside Quins’ 22 and moments earlier Saints had been nudged closer to the precipice by a try from another England veteran in flanker Chris Robshaw.
The club’s seasoned campaigners, a group that also included scrum-half Danny Care, bossed youthful opposition as Northampton slumped to a third defeat in four outings since the five-month break for COVID-19.
While none of the out-of-favour England stars will have forced a rethink from Eddie Jones, who was watching from the stands, Marcus Smith gave the Australian a nudge with a classy display at fly-half alongside a strong afternoon from number eight Alex Dombrandt.
Gloucester 46-30 Leicester
Ollie Thorley became only the third player to score four first-half tries in a Gallagher Premiership game as Gloucester beat battling Leicester 46-30 at Kingsholm.
The 23-year-old England hopeful completed a quartet of scores in just 21 minutes as Gloucester ended a run of three successive home league defeats.
But the west country club had to withstand an impressive Leicester fightback that saw Tigers move from 30 points adrift after 33 minutes to just six behind midway through the final quarter.
Uncapped Thorley’s feat matched four-try efforts by former Bath wing Tom Voyce in 2001 and ex-Wasps speedster Christian Wade four years ago.
Gloucester had a bonus point in the bag after 26 minutes, although a much-changed Leicester rallied strongly from 36-6 adrift just before the break.
Tigers newcomer Harry Potter scored a box-office solo touchdown for Leicester, while substitutes Jordan Taufua and Cameron Henderson also crossed as Tigers scored 24 points without reply.
But Thorley, who has twice been part of England Six Nations squads, retained centre-stage, with centre Chris Harris and scrum-half Joe Simpson also claiming touchdowns.
Billy Twelvetrees added four conversions and a penalty for Gloucester, while Zack Henry kicked two penalties and substitute George Ford landed three conversions and a penalty as he inspired Tigers’ ultimately fruitless quest to avoid an 11th league defeat this season.