It’s all change at the summit of the Aviva Premiership as Saracens moved ahead of Exeter Chiefs after a thrilling set of fixtures in Round 15.
Meanwhile just five points separate fourth and eighth in an extremely tight midfield as the race for the top four continues.
Saracens move top with gritty victory
Saracens moved to the top of the Aviva Premiership table with winger Liam Williams inspiring Mark McCall’s men to a 13-3 win at Sale Sharks.
Williams scored the only try of the game in a tight first half at the AJ Bell Stadium as he cut inside from the right wing and sprinted clear to dive over.
On the Whistle | "If you could bottle a feeling, from a rugby perspective, that's as good as it gets" - Skipper @bradbarritt spoke to #SarriesTV after a battling win against Sale this evening! More reaction to follow... pic.twitter.com/x4VLUqZR8Q— Saracens Rugby Club (@Saracens) February 16, 2018
Scrum-half Ben Spencer ensured the scoreboard kept ticking with a conversion and two penalties for the visitors, while Sale’s Faf de Klerk booted his side’s solitary points.
Determined Wasps dig deep to see off Chiefs
Wasps lost to Exeter Chiefs in the Aviva Premiership final last season but they got their own back with a determined display on Sunday.
Olympic silver medallist Marcus Watson scored the only try in a tight first half as he dotted down in the corner from Willie le Roux’s pass.
A Jimmy Gopperth penalty extended the gap to ten points but Exeter fought their way back and England international Luke Cowan-Dickie finished off a textbook driving maul.
The Chiefs had their tails up but Wasps got another penalty that Gopperth converted and hung on for a crucial 13-7 success.
Falcons leapfrog Bath in hunt for top four
Newcastle completed an Aviva Premiership double over Bath for the first time in 20 years thanks to a bonus-point win on Friday night at Kingston Park.
Former England fly-half Toby Flood finished with a personal haul of 14 points – including a first-half try – as the Falcons made it six unbeaten in all competitions at home.
Sinoti Sinoti, Kyle Cooper and Niki Goneva also crossed for Dean Richards’ side in the 29-12 victory.
Zach Mercer, released by England, carried strongly throughout for the visitors and their second-half consolation scores came from debutant Cooper Vuna and Anthony Perenise.
Adams sets record on Arr’s testimonial
Worcester Warriors continued their impressive revival in the Aviva Premiership this season with a 25-15 win over Gloucester at Sixways.
Having downed defending champions Exeter last week, the Warriors are now 16 points clear of London Irish.
Jonny Arr celebrated his testimonial day with a try with Jackson Willison and Josh Adams, who now has the record for most tries for a Warrior in a Premiership season, also crossing.
"It's been an emotional week. I didn't expect to be playing so I felt a bit of pressure going into the game."@j_arr reflects on his special Testimonial Day, as he scored on his return from injury in Warriors' victory over Gloucester... pic.twitter.com/tEqK4oCgo1— Worcester Warriors (@WorcsWarriors) February 17, 2018
Matt Scott and Henry Trinder replied for the Cherry & Whites but the boot of Chris Pennell, who finished with ten points from the tee, kept the Warriors out in front.
Snarling Saints sneak past Irish
Northampton Saints are unbeaten at Franklin’s Gardens in 2018 but they were made to work to preserve that record against London Irish.
Two Alex Lewington tries put Irish 14-3 ahead at the break and seemingly on their way to a second league win of the season.
But the Saints came charging out in the second half with George North scoring within seconds, sparking a three-try ten-minute spell.
Far from perfect, but great spirit from the lads to fight back after an untidy first half.— Christian Day (@christianday) February 17, 2018
Lots to work on come Monday but for now I’m having a
Rob Horne and Mikey Haywood also crossed, while a late Piers Francis drop goal sealed a 25-17 win.
Tigers edge towards top six
Leicester Tigers moved up to seventh in the Aviva Premiership with a 33-18 win over Harlequins with Matt Toomua scoring 23 points.
The visitors led through an early Alofa Alofa try but three Toomua penalties gave the Tigers a 9-8 lead at half-time at Welford Road.
Luke Wallace’s score restored Quins advantage only for two quickfire Tigers tries, from Toomua and Graham Kitchener, putting the hosts ten points in front.
Lock Charlie Matthews went over to offer Harlequins some late hope but Adam Thompstone’s intercept try, in the final play, sealed the victory.