Premiership - Saracens recover to win at Wasps

A round-up from Saturday's Aviva Premiership games.

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Premiership - Saracens recover to win at Wasps
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Owen Farrell of Saracens

London Wasps 13-22 Saracens

England winger Chris Ashton grabbed the crucial try as Aviva Premiership leaders Saracens fought back from 13-0 down to beat Wasps 22-13.

Saracens scored all their points in the opening 13 minutes with full-back Elliot Daly landing two long-range penalties either side of a try from 21-year-old winger Christian Wade which was converted by Stephen Jones.

However, Saracens hit back almost immediately with a try from USA international Chris Wyles and a penalty from Owen Farrell sending them into the interval 13-8 behind.

The visitors then completed their comeback in the second half thanks to Ashton's 66th-minute score and three more Farrell penalties.

Wasps director of rugby Dai Young had shuffled his front row and called for an improvement in the scrum following last weekend's home defeat by Northampton.

His pack responded as early as the eighth minute, forcing the back-pedalling Saracens scrum to concede a penalty, kicked by long-range specialist Daly from a metre inside the Sarries' half.

Wasps struck again two minutes later when Wade intercepted a sloppy pass from Charlie Hodgson and raced 60 yards for his 10th Premiership try of the season, boosting his claim for a place on England's summer tour to Argentina.

That was converted by Jones and the home side made it 13-0 after Saracens' centre Joel Tomkins was penalised for a late tackle on the former Wales fly-half after he had launched a big clearance kick into the opposing half.

The penalty was awarded where the ball landed and Daly made no mistake with an excellent angled kick from 40 metres.

But Wasps spoilt their good start when their defence was caught napping.

They were expecting Saracens to go for goal but England full-back Alex Goode suddenly took a quick tap and made the break to send Wyles, called up to replace injured winger David Strettle, over in the left corner.

Farrell missed the conversion and was then wide with his kick after the Saracens pack wheeled a scrum, forcing Wasps to concede a penalty.

But the England fly-half, switched to inside centre with his international team-mate Brad Barritt rested, made amends in the 26th minute by landing a 38-metre penalty.

Saracens should have drawn level in the 36th minute when England prop Mako Vunipola - whose brother Billy lined up at number eight for Wasps - dived for the line and stretched one-handed to touch down, only for his international colleague Joe Launchbury to produce a timely intervention and knock the ball away.

The visitors suffered another blow a minute before half-time when lock Mouritz Botha was sin-binned for disrupting a Wasps attack with a deliberate knock-on.

Wasps failed to capitalise on their 10-minute one-man advantage before Botha returned, though.

Back to full strength, Saracens put Wasps under pressure but Vunipola squandered a second try-scoring opportunity when he knocked on with the line at his mercy.

However referee Martin Fox, who had played advantage following a previous offence, brought play back for the 61st-minute penalty, kicked by Farrell to cut the gap to two points.

Ashton put Saracens ahead for the first time in the 66th minute when he latched on to a through-kick from Goode and, despite the attentions of Daly, touched down in the right-hand corner for his fourth Premiership try of the campaign.

Farrell missed the conversion - his third failure from five kicks - but succeeded with his third penalty after Billy Vunipola was sin-binned for a deliberate knock-on in front of his own posts.

He added a fourth two minutes from time to complete the scoring when Wasps illegally pulled down a Saracens' maul two metres from the line.

Northampton 8-36 Leicester

Leicester secured an emphatic 36-8 victory over Northampton at Franklin's Gardens on Saturday.

In truth, the Tigers were in control throughout this Aviva Premiership game, with Manu Tuilagi scoring two tries and Niall Morris and Mathew Tait touching down in the final 10 minutes for the bonus point.

The visitors stopped Northampton's powerful pack and had the skill and nous, with Tuilagi unstoppable, to dominate in a performance that will have delighted director of rugby Richard Cockerill.

Stephen Myler kicked a penalty for the hosts and also crossed for a try in the second half.

Bath 40-25 London Welsh

Beleaguered London Welsh will not be going down from the Aviva Premiership without a fight as they showed last week at Gloucester - and again against Bath in going down to a 40-25 defeat at the Recreation Ground.

Still smarting after losing their appeal this week against a five-point deduction and £15,000 fine over the Tyson Keats affair, the league's bottom club stayed in the game until the closing stages despite eventually conceding five tries to one.

Scrum-half Alex Davies summed up their never-say-die spirit by keeping them in touch with six penalties and a conversion of Seb Jewell's try but Bath's firepower behind the scrum ensured they always had the edge and retain hopes of a top-six place.

Fijian Semesa Rokoduguni was the matchwinner, his blistering pace earning him a try just before the break and also creating the bonus point score for Horacio Agulla. Other Bath tries went to Matt Banahan (pictured), Carl Fearns and replacement scrum-half Michael Claassens.

Although winless for four months, the Exiles had come within a point of beating Gloucester at Kingsholm last week. But 24 hours before kick-off they were forced to make two changes to their starting line-up, drafting in Tom Bristow at prop and Greg Bateman at hooker.

All Black Stephen Donald returned after injury for Bath, who also handed the number 15 shirt to England Under-20s full-back Ollie Devoto and brought Mat Gilbert into the back row, switching Fearns to number eight.

It took Bath just 80 seconds to light up the scoreboard, as Banahan barged over in the left corner after the Welsh were pinned in their own 22 from the kick-off.

Donald missed the conversion but there was no let-up in the onslaught, even when Bath were awarded a kickable penalty in the ninth minute.

Donald opted to kick for the corner and Fearns, relishing his ball-carrying role, dived through a clutch of bodies to claim the try from a well-rehearsed line-out move.

Having hit the post with the conversion and spurned a second kick at goal, Donald eventually cashed in on the Exiles' persistent indiscipline with a straightforward penalty to take Bath 13-0 ahead.

But the home side, having lost Banahan to a nasty-looking leg knee injury on 14 minutes, lost all shape and focus and were punished with three Davies penalties inside eight minutes.

As Bath retreated before Tim Wigglesworth's whistle, the scrum-half was even prepared to try another kick from six metres inside his own half - but that was just too optimistic.

Bath recovered their composure in time for Donald's sweet, flat pass to send Rokoduguni on a straight run to the posts.

The fly-half's conversion sent Bath in at the break 20-9 ahead but a needless penalty - and a 10-metre sanction for Dominic Day for throwing the ball away - let Davies kick his fourth penalty as soon as the match restarted.

When he added a fifth on 38 minutes, thanks to strong mauling from his pack, Bath's lead was back to five points.

By this time, Gordon Ross was prompting effectively from fly-half and the Exiles looked dangerous every time they had the ball while Bath looked increasingly nervous, especially when Davies landed a sixth penalty on 56 minutes.

Donald brought some order to proceedings with a penalty and Bath hit their opponents with a real sucker-punch to claim the bonus point.

Rokoduguni did brilliantly to claim the restart and was immediately into his stride, beating two defenders and drawing another before sending Agulla over for the touchdown, with Tom Heathcote adding the conversion.

Back came the Exiles, creating a try for full-back Jewell on the blindside of a five-metre scrum. Davies' conversion brought his tally to 20 points.

However, Heathcote restored Bath's two-score advantage with a 75th-minute penalty to ease home supporters' nerves and Claassens' try, also converted by Heathcote, increased the margin of victory.

Worcester 18-24 Exeter

A last-gasp try by Dean Mumm kept alive Exeter's hopes of qualification for next season's Heineken Cup thanks to a 24-18 Aviva Premiership victory over Worcester.The Chiefs looked to have thrown away a 14-6 interval lead as a second-half rally from Worcester saw them 18-17 in front but a yellow card for Josh Matavesi 10 minutes from the end sealed Worcester's fate.

Exeter were much the more creative side in the first half but careless errors allowed Worcester back into the match and ultimately the Warriors could be deemed unlucky losers.

The Chiefs made only one change following last week's defeat by Leicester, recalling James Scaysbrook at flanker with wing Matt Jess making his 100th league appearance for them.

In contrast, Worcester made five changes from last week's disappointing display at London Irish. Semisi Taulava, Euan Murray and Chris Jones reappeared up front with Jonny Arr and Matavesi included in the back division.

Worcester made a bright start and took a third-minute lead with a simple penalty from Andy Goode.

That lead was short-lived as Exeter produced a sustained movement showing excellent ball retention, which culminated in Luke Arscott crashing over for a try which Gareth Steenson converted.

The frenetic opening continued with the Warriors appearing to have regained the lead. Chris Pennell and Josh Drauniniu combined cleverly to put Exeter on the back foot, before Goode's cross-kick was easily collected by David Lemi.

The wing crossed the line for the referee to signal a try - only for the touch judge to advise that Lemi had knocked on in the process of scoring.

Goode gained Worcester some reward with his second penalty after Jack Nowell was penalised for not releasing but once again Exeter responded in style.

Another compelling movement ended with Haydn Thomas making a neat break to send Steenson in under the posts for a try which the fly-half converted himself.

Exeter were penalised for a careless offside but Goode missed with a long-range attempt to leave the visitors deservedly ahead 14-6 at the interval.

After the restart Steenson had the first chance at points and he made no mistake with his penalty as the Warriors were penalised for a scrummage offence.

This gave Exeter a healthy lead but the Warriors got themselves back into the game with their first try.

The home side declined a kickable penalty in favour of a more attacking option and were rewarded when Matt Kvesic drove over from a five-metre line-out.

Worcester continued to have their best period of the match with Chris Pennell making a searing break before feeding Lemi, who was hauled down with the line in sight.

Goode then went through another huge gap in the visitors' defence before kicking ahead to gain a platform in the opposition 22.

Another strong line-out drive saw the Chiefs reeling backwards for Arr to send Drauniniu over for the try which Goode converted to put Worcester ahead for the first time.

Steenson missed a penalty but with 10 minutes to go the Warriors suffered a big blow when Matavesi was sin-binned for a deliberate offside.

The decision proved crucial as it allowed the Chiefs to dominate the remainder of the match and with two minutes remaining the pressure told as Mumm crashed over for the decisive try, which Steenson converted.

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