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Aviva Premiership Rugby round-up: 2 Rounds to Go

Wasps scrum half Joe Simpson was delighted after scoring a magnificent solo try as his side secured a vital Aviva Premiership Rugby victory over Exeter, who grabbed a losing bonus point with Gareth Steenson’s last gasp drop goal.

Simpson’s score and 18 points from the boot of Andy Goode mean Wasps remain sixth and in the final qualifying place for next season’s European Rugby Champions Cup.

The Chiefs slip out of the top four into fifth but Steenson’s kick leaves them just a point behind Leicester Tigers in fourth.

And Simpson admits his side were forced to soak up the pressure in the second half to secure that all-important victory in the race for the top four.

“We’ve been scrappy and Exeter came back into the match, they played some great rugby and we had to absorb, absorb, absorb,” he explained.

 “Unfortunately they came away with a point at the end, which we’re very frustrated about but we’ve got the win that keeps us in the race and that’s all we care about at the moment.

“It’s a fantastic season, I don’t think I have ever played in an Aviva Premiership which is quite as tight.

“Everyone’s going for it, anyone can manage it so we’ve just got to focus on that Leicester match who are our rivals now so it’s going to be a massive match down here.

“We’re going to get close to a sell out and it’s just going to be an epic match.”

Meanwhile on Saturday Northampton Saints bounced back from disappointing defeats against Clermont and Exeter to guarantee a top-four finish with a 25-20 victory over Saracens.

Director of rugby Jim Mallinder hailed Stephen Myler’s performance as the stand off kicked six penalties and a conversion to put Saints nine points clear of third-placed Saracens with just two games of the regular season to go. 

"This win is a big help in terms of trying to achieve that home semi-final," said Mallinder.

"Saracens disrupted our set-piece – the lineout didn't function quite as well as it normally does – but we managed to keep in the game and Stephen Myler kicked his goals.

"Stephen gets man-of-the-match in a lot of the big games he plays in. You need someone as reliable as him who can kick the goals in big pressure situations and can run the team.”

Elswhere Laurence Pearce's double kept Leicester Tigers’ hopes of the top four alive as they beat London Welsh 38-17 to leapfrog Exeter Chiefs into fourth.

And Harlequins scored four first-half tries but still needed to hold off a dramatic late fightback from Sale Sharks as they won 23-25 at the AJ Bell Stadium.

The match was Sale’s first home defeat in Aviva Premiership Rugby in 2015 and serves as a massive boost to Quins’ hopes of European Rugby Champions Cup qualification.

Newcastle Falcons director of rugby Dean Richards was devastated after his side threw away a 40-23 lead to lose a thrilling game against Gloucester at Kingsholm on Saturday.

Gloucester’s Billy Burns scored a last-minute try to steal the points for his team and Richards admitted it was a bitter pill to swallow.

"We felt we were in with a real shout, so it's very disappointing," he said. "We gave them some easy points and, surprisingly, we tired a bit.

"Rory Clegg's kicking was impeccable and it's a pity that he missed that tackle at the end.

"We always knew they had the ability to come back and their impact players made a big difference.”

And Bath Rugby have set their sights on a home semi-final after securing a bonus-point victory over London Irish on Friday.

Head coach Mike Ford admitted he was proud of the patience shown by his players as they produced a brilliant second-half performance to secure the 43-18 win.

"I thought we played well in the first half, we made a lot of line breaks and beat a lot of defenders but it was a funny game because we couldn't build any pressure in terms of phases," he said.

"We stayed composed at half time, kept reiterating to play the way we train, with tempo and the start to the second half was brilliant – to get five tries in the end was very pleasing.”

SUNDAY
 
Wasps 36 Exeter Chiefs 29
 
Wasps
Tries: Wade, penalty try, Simpson
Cons: Goode 3
Pens: Goode 4, Daly
 
Exeter Chiefs
Tries: Chudley, Waldrom
Cons: Slade 2
Pens: Slade 4
Drop goal: Steenson
 
Referee: Matthew Carley
Attendance: 16,712
  
SATURDAY
 
Leicester 38 London Welsh 17
 
Leicester Tigers
Tries: Youngs (2), Pearce (2), Harrison, Gibson
Conversions: Burns (2), Bell (2)
 
London Welsh
Tries: Britton, Fonua
Penalties: Elder
Conversions: Robinson (2)
 
Referee: Tim Wigglesworth
Attendance: 23,016
 
Northampton Saints 25 Saracens 20
 
Northampton Saints
Tries: Manoa
Conversions: Myler
Penalties: Myler 6
 
Saracens
Tries: Wyles 2
Conversions: Hodgson 2
Penalties: Hodgson 2
 
Referee: Greg Garner
Attendance: 27, 411
 
Gloucester Rugby 42 Newcastle Falcons 40
 
Gloucester Rugby
Tries: Twelvetrees 2, Robson, Purdy, Burns
Conversions: Burns 3, Laidlaw
Penalties: Burns 3
 
Newcastle Falcons
Tries: Wilson, Sinoti, Lawson, Furno
Conversions: Clegg 4
Penalties: Clegg 4
 
Referee: Ian Tempest
Attendance: 12,516
 
Sale Sharks 23 Harlequins 25
 
Sale Sharks
Tries: Arscott 2, Cueto
Conversions: Cipriani
Penalties: Cipriani 2
 
Harlequins
Tries: Walker, Robshaw, Yarde, Care
Conversions: Evans 1
Penalties: Evans 1
 
Referee: Wayne Barnes
Attendance: 8,159
 
FRIDAY
 
Bath 43 London Irish 18
 
Bath Rugby
Tries: Houston, Joseph, Banahan, Burgess, Rokoduguni
Conversions: Ford 3
Penalties: Ford 4
 
London Irish
Tries: Court, Cowan
Conversion: Noakes
Penalties: Noakes 2
 
Referee: Luke Pearce
Attendance: 13,349

Tickets to the Aviva Premiership Rugby Final are selling faster than this time last year so with just two rounds to go, now's the time to click here to book your place at the world's biggest club rugby final.
 

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