Aviva Premiership - Hodgson boots Saracens to win, miracle try gives Welsh victory

Former England fly-half Charlie Hodgson kicked a magnificent seven penalties from seven as Saracens overcame Wasps 29-24 - but it was not quite enough to enable them to depose Harlequins at the top of the Aviva Premiership.

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Premiership - Hodgson inspires Saracens to hammer Bath
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Saracens' Charlie Hodgson

Hodgson's only kicking miss was a conversion attempt from the touchline after lock Alistair Hargreaves scored Sarries' only try.

South African Hargreaves had an afternoon of mixed fortunes, grabbing his charge-down try and being sin-binned before being carried off on a stretcher following a controversial challenge by James Haskell.

Saracens' other three points came from a Nils Mordt penalty while Hodgson was off the pitch receiving treatment for a cut.

But Wasps pushed them all the way, with tries from winger Tom Varndell and scrum-half Charlie Davies, three penalties and a drop goal from Nick Robinson and a conversion by his replacement Tommy Bell not quite enough to stop their four-match winning run in all competitions from coming to an end.

Saracens, who needed to win by seven points to go top, were without Owen Farrell, Brad Barritt, Chris Ashton, Mouritz Botha, Alex Goode and Mako Vunipola through England call-ups while Wales prop Rhys Gill was ruled out by injury.

Former England winger David Strettle served early notice on Wasps, slicing through their defence before opposite number Christian Wade produced a try-saving tackle.

But Wasps conceded a penalty, allowing Hodgson to kick Sarries ahead after only four minutes.

The visitors took only two minutes to hit back with the opening try.

Wade found full-back Hugo Southwell, whose well-timed pass provided Varndell - this season's leading Premiership tryscorer - with the space to outpace Richard Wigglesworth on the outside and touch down in the corner for his seventh of the campaign.

Robinson missed the conversion and a long-range penalty before landing a calmly-struck 30-metre drop goal in the 20th minute.

But two penalties in the following three minutes from Hodgson edged the home side 9-8 ahead.

Hargreaves, showing remarkable agility for a big man, scored Saracens' sole try in the 28th minute.

The giant South African second row made the most of his 6ft 7in frame to charge down an attempted clearance kick by Davies from the base of a Wasps scrum and then won the chase to dive on the ball and claim the try, but Hodgson was off-target with the difficult conversion.

Centre Elliot Daly was narrowly wide with a long-range penalty shot for Wasps before Robinson landed one from closer in.

Robinson struck again to level the scores in the final minute of the first half after tryscorer Hargreaves was yellow-carded by referee JP Doyle for going over the top at a ruck.

Two minutes into the second half Hodgson went off with a blood injury after Saracens were awarded a penalty and Mordt came on to kick the goal and put the home side back in front.

Six minutes later Robinson levelled the scores with his third penalty.

England back-row forward Haskell incurred the wrath of the home crowd with a huge hit on Hargreaves, who received treatment on the pitch for several minutes before being carried off.

But the only sanction from referee Doyle was a penalty, which Hodgson struck from 40 metres to put his side back in front at 20-17.

Two more penalties from Hodgson in a three-minute spell stretched Sarries' lead to nine points.

Robinson's replacement Bell was just short with a penalty from inside his own half before Hodgson struck his seventh from two metres inside the Wasps half.

But Wasps battled to the end and they were rewarded with a losing bonus point when Davies squeezed over for a last-gasp try, converted by Bell.

In the day's other match a 70-metre try from wing Nick Scott with the last move of the game gave London Welsh a crucial 16-9 win over Bath in their battle for Premiership survival.

Scott picked off Stephen Donald's telegraphed pass and had sufficient pace to hold off the cover for the match-winning try, which Gordon Ross converted.

It was the only try in a desperately poor game and a draw would have been a fair result as neither side played well enough to deserve a win.

Bath had the better scoring opportunities but though they went close on a number of occasions, they failed to take them. They had the more inventive backs but their scrum was continually under pressure.

Welsh were dogged throughout but provide no attacking spark and until Scott's effort, never threatened the try line.

Bath had an early chance for points but Donald was off target with a 40-metre penalty attempt.

Moments later, Welsh had their opportunity which they also failed to take as Gavin Henson was narrowly wide with his 45-metre kick - but with 10 minutes gone, the outside half was successful from 40 metres to put his side ahead.

Despite this reverse, Bath had the better of the first 15 minutes, desperate defence keeping the visitors out as Ben Williams and Michael Claassens made holes in the Welsh defence.

Against the run of play, the hosts broke out to win a penalty for Henson to extend their lead with a simple 25-metre kick.

The second quarter was more evenly contested, with the Welsh pack matching their opponents, but following a sustained drive from the Bath forwards the hosts were penalised and Donald made no mistake from 30 metres out.

The remainder of the half saw an abundance of penalty awards and a procession of aimless kicking, with Donald and Tom Arscott the worst culprits.

With the last movement of the half, Bath lock Dave Attwood did get over the line but he was held up by some stout home defence, allowing Welsh to retain their fortunate 6-3 lead at the interval.

Bath began strongly after the restart. Powerful runs from Williams and Matt Banahan gained them some momentum but the visitors lost a crucial scrum in front of the Welsh posts when they were easily pushed off their own ball.

However they did gain some reward when after 51 minutes Donald kicked his second penalty to tie up the scores.

With 20 minutes to go both teams made changes, with Henson and Banahan being the major casualties as they were replaced by Ross and Horacio Agulla respectively.

Exiles lock Kirill Koulemine was penalised for pulling down at the line-out and a well struck penalty from Donald put Bath into the lead for the first time.

With 10 minutes to go, Bath conceded a scrummage penalty. Ross' 45-metre kick was badly struck and fell short but with 90 seconds remaining on the, clock the outside half was successful from 30 metres to bring his side level.

Scott's heroics at the death then sealed the win.

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