Sam Burgess touched down for the first time in rugby union as Bath United defeated London Irish to set up a thrilling clash against rivals Exeter Chiefs on Monday, 29 December for a place in the Aviva A League semi-finals.
The cross-code star, playing at blindside flanker, crossed over just before half-time, while Richard Lane scored a hat-trick as the hosts ran in eight tries in a 44-5 victory at the Rec.
Burgess also produced a neat offload to Olly Woodburn to help create Darren Atkins’ try, with Horacio Agulla, Marcus Beer and Callum Waters going over and the Exiles only able to reply through Gary Johnston.
The West Country rivals will face off on Monday night at Sandy Park with qualification at stake after Elvis Taione’s hat-trick helped Exeter Chiefs triumph 49-40 in a 13-try shootout against Wasps.
Exeter led 35-7 at the interval through a Sam Simmonds double, two Taione scores and Max Bodilly’s effort before extending their lead even further after the restart as Taione and Brett Sturgess crossed over.
The hosts roared back into contention thanks to Josh Bassett’s double and tries from Tom Howe, Glyn Hughes and Piers O’Connor, but it was not enough to deny the Chiefs from claiming the win.
The winner of Exeter against Bath will face Worcester Cavaliers after they secured a home semi-final with a 29-15 victory over Bristol United to make it six wins from six in the Northern Conference.
Worcester led 10-5 at half-time through Sam Windsor’s try before Josh Watkins crossed over twice in three minutes and Dan Sanderson secured the bonus-point victory, despite George Watkins and Josh Overs replying for the hosts late on.
Saracens Storm will host Newcastle Falcons in the other semi final as both sides secured bonus-points triumphs over London Welsh and Northampton Wanderers respectively.
At Allianz Park, tries from Nils Mordt, Jared Saunders, Nick Tompkins, Matt Hankin and Catalin Fercu helped Saracens record a 27-0 win against the Exiles and maintain their 100 per cent record in the competition.
A Danny Barnes double together with tries from Rob Hawkins and Sebastian Ferreira were enough to carry Falcons past Northampton 35-15 at Kingston Park.
Elsewhere, Gloucester United’s game against Sale Jets at Hartpury College was postponed due to the visitors being stuck in traffic.
Wasps 40 Exeter Chiefs 49
Newcastle Falcons 35 Northampton Wanderers 13
Bristol United 15 Worcester Cavaliers 29
Bath United 44 London Irish 5
Saracens Storm 27 London Welsh 0
The Aviva 'A' League semi-finals will take place on Monday 5 January:
Worcester v Bath or Exeter
Saracens v Newcastle