Premiership: Six stories from round nine

Round nine of the Aviva Premiership was action-packed as defending champions Exeter stretched their lead at the top of the table, Worcester claimed a first-ever win at Welford Road and in-form Gloucester kept on rolling.

Chiefs storm Allianz Park

Defending champions Exeter Chiefs came roaring back in the second half to hand Saracens their first home defeat in the league since March 2016.

Alex Goode and Schalk Brits both crossed in the first half for the two-time European champions but Rob Baxter’s side – who top the table now by five points – refused to buckle.

Sam Hill was the man of the match for the Chiefs but it was his midfield partner Ian Whitten who crossed after the interval for their first score.

And Moray Low then burrowed over in the final ten minutes under the posts to put the Chiefs in front for the first time.

They had to hold off one last Saracens fightback in north London and when the final whistle went Mark McCall’s side had lost four first-team games in a row for the first time since 2010.

Wasps leave it late

Wasps’ re-emergence this season is gradually taking shape but they had to do it the hard way against London Irish.

The Exiles – bottom of the standings – led 10-0 in the second half at the Madejski Stadium as Alex Lewington crossed for a fine score.

But in the end tries from Ashley Johnson, Josh Bassett and Nizaam Carr proved too much as Dai Young’s side – runners up last year – ran out 17-13 winners.

That moves Wasps, who have now won three in a row in the league, back into the top six while the losing bonus point means the Exiles are now five points adrift at the foot of the table.

Worcester make history

Ryan Mills crossed for Worcester’s fifth and final try as the Warriors produced a stunning upset to claim their first-ever win at Welford Road.

Mills was sublime in the centres as the Warriors shocked Leicester Tigers who came into the clash on a six-match unbeaten run in the league.

Josh Adams crossed for a first-half double for Gary Gold’s side while Alafoti Faosiliva also went over.

The Tigers scored two tries of their own before the break through Mike Fitzgerald and Sam Harrison.

But in the second period Jack Singleton – who toured with England in Argentina this past summer – was on the end of a stunning Warriors move to stretch their lead.

And when Mills swivelled over the Warriors had secured their first-ever win at Welford Road – a run that stretches all the way back to the 19th century – despite a late Tigers rally that saw Gareth Owen cross and Nick Schonert sent to the sin bin.

Banahan buoys Bath

Matt Banahan was crucial for Bath as they romped to a 38-14 win over Harlequins at the Rec to move back into the top four of the Aviva Premiership.

The powerful centre set up two tries and scored another as Bath claimed the bonus point inside 20 minutes, after former England Under-20s captain Zach Mercer set up Paul Grant for the opener.

England fly-half Freddie Burns contributed 17 points including a try for Bath as they proved far too strong for their opponents.

However Gabriel Ibitoye, a teammate of Mercer’s at Under-20s level last year, produced a brilliant individual score for the visitors – his first senior try for Harlequins but it was little more than consolation.

Sale get back on track

Sale Sharks drew on all of their fortitude to stand firm and claim an 18-15 victory over Northampton Saints on Saturday evening, with the boot of Will Cliff proving the difference.

In a topsy-turvy encounter at the AJ Bell Stadium, the lead continually changed hands, with Faf de Klerk and Ben Curry, who toured Argentina with England in June, dotting down for Sale while Cobus Reinach and Mike Haywood went over for the Saints.

In the end, Cliff’s 63rd-minute penalty proved the difference between the two teams, although Steve Diamond’s troops were forced to defend for their lives in the latter stages as Northampton looked to hit back.

Victory provided some much-needed respite for the Sharks, who bounced back to winning ways after three straight defeats in the Premiership.

Purdy fires for Gloucester

Henry Purdy was the star of the show as Gloucester made it four league wins in a row with an impressive bonus-point win at Newcastle.

Purdy made the first try of the night for Andy Symons and also crossed for a magnificent solo score in an action-packed first half at Kingston Park that also saw Jeremy Thrush go over for the visitors.

England flanker Mark Wilson pulled one try back for the Falcons on the stroke of half-time but the boot of Billy Twelvetrees – who also saw yellow in the second half – extended Gloucester’s lead.

And Johan Ackermann’s side sealed victory, and a four-try bonus point, when Gareth Denman burrowed over from close range late on.