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Aviva Premiership Rugby round-up: 4 Rounds to Go

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Head coach Mike Ford admits Bath Rugby control their own fate in Aviva Premiership Rugby after a bonus-point win over London Welsh leaves them in a healthy position with just four rounds to go.

A Leroy Houston double and tries from Sam Burgess, Rob Webber and Alafoti Fa'osiliva condemned Welsh to finishing 12th in Aviva Premiership Rugby for 2014-15 – though relegation can only be confirmed once the Championship play-offs take place.

At the other end of the spectrum, Bath move up to third with their second successive win, and with the likes of Exeter Chiefs and Wasps still gunning for a top four spot, the race is by no means over.

But Ford was in confident mood as the Aviva Premiership Rugby season turns into its final corner.

"We're not going to look at the league table now, with four games left, but we think it's pretty much in our hands now in the Premiership,” he said.

"Any time you get an away win in the Premiership is good. Five points, five tries – that's the critical outcome.

“We had a week off, then two weeks training, but there's nothing that beats playing. It's good to get a game under the belt – a tough game as it was in those conditions.”

Elsewhere on Sunday, Sale Sharks beat Gloucester Rugby into submission after a typically inspirational performance from Danny Cipriani.

Sale’s own pursuit of the top four remains alive as Johnny Leota and Josh Beaumont tries sandwiched three Cipriani penalties.

Gloucester had just two James Hook penalties to show for their efforts, and Beaumont admits the Sharks stuck to what they do very well.

“We put a lot of pressure on ourselves all week to bring a big forward performance, we knew the weather would be typical Manchester rain this weekend,” said Beaumont. “We are used to playing it, for us it was about going back to basics and we did that well.

“It was a scrappy game, but we just stuck to trying to keep hold of the ball, pinning Gloucester back and forcing them into errors.

“I had a very frustrating year last year, with being out all season, so to stay injury free and to get the game time that Sale are giving me it is really enhancing my career. It’s a great place to be, so I’m really enjoying my rugby.”

A world record club rugby crowd of 84,068 at Wembley saw Saracens overpower Harlequins – and director of rugby Mark McCall admits his side’s ruthlessness is what impressed him the most.

Saracens only have four try bonus points – the lowest number in the top half of the Aviva Premiership Rugby table apart from Leicester Tigers – but partners in crime Chris Ashton and David Strettle both crossed the line twice, while Billy Vunipola also got on the scoresheet.

Jack Clifford handed Quins the perfect start but they found little joy in the following 79 minutes, leaving Sarries in second and McCall a happy man.

"We've scored three tries eight times in the Premiership this season so it would have been unbelievably depressing to do that again," said McCall, as the race for the semi-finals heats up.

"We hope those lost bonus points along the way don't come back to haunt us, but it was very important for us to get that fifth point.”

Leicester are also returning to top form with just four rounds to go as they clinched what could be a vitally important victory over Exeter Chiefs in the race for the semi-finals.

Freddie Burns enjoyed a stellar day from the tee, collecting 20 points, while Geoff Parling rumbled over for a second-half try.

Thomas Waldrom notched yet another score this season while Will Chudley also made his way over the whitewash, but Tigers proved too strong.

However, with away trips to Saracens and Wasps preceding a clash with Northampton Saints, director of rugby Richard Cockerill insists his team must not get carried away.

"Hopefully we will get to the play-offs but we have got some very tough games coming up,” he said.

"But we’re well in the mix and that's obviously our target at the start of the season, and it still is now. If we get it right we can still get a home semi-final.”

In Friday’s match George North’s first-half try-double set Northampton Saints on their way before he was stretchered off due to a head injury.

The incident led to a Nathan Hughes red card and Northampton’s man advantage put paid to Wasps, who had started so well through Christian Wade’s two scores and the boot of Alex Lozowski.

Alex Corbisiero, Stephen Myler and Ken Pisi all grabbed tries of their own before full-back Ahsee Tuala popped up with a double in the last ten minutes – Saints now ten points clear at the top with just four rounds remaining.

North took to Twitter to say he was ‘feeling OK’ after the match, and he will see a specialist for an assessment this week.

Elsewhere, London Irish got their St Patrick’s Party celebrations in full swing with victory over Newcastle Falcons.

It was only their third Aviva Premiership Rugby win of the season at home, and Halani Aulika, Scott Steele and Andy Fenby all dotted down in the first half – but Irish nearly let it sleep.

Falcons came surging back through Tom Catterick’s boot but, despite late tries from Chris Harris and Adam Powell, a Chris Noakes penalty ensured the Exiles snatched the win.

SUNDAY

London Welsh 14 Bath Rugby 29

London Welsh
Tries: Reynolds, Fonua
Conversions: Roberts, Robinson
 
Bath Rugby
 Tries: Webber, Houston 2, Burgess, Fa’osiliva
Conversions: Homer 2
 
Referee: Thomas Foley
Attendance: 3,946
 
Sale Sharks 23 Gloucester Rugby 6

Sale Sharks
Tries: Leota, Beaumont
Conversion: Cipriani 2
Penalties: Cipriani 3
 
Gloucester
Penalties: Hook 2
Referee: Matt Carley
Attendance: 6879 
 
SATURDAY

Leicester Tigers 25 Exeter Chiefs 19

Leicester Tigers
Tries: Parling
Conversions: Burns
Penalties: Burns 6

Exeter Chiefs
Tries: Waldrom, Chudley
Conversions: Slade
Penalties: Slade 2

Referee: JP Doyle
Attendance: 24,000

Saracens 42 Harlequins 14
 
Saracens
Tries: Wyles 2, Ashton 2, B.Vunipola
Conversions: Hodgson, Goode 3
Penalties: Hodgson, Goode 2

Harlequins
Tries: Clifford
Penalties: Evans 3

Referee: Wayne Barnes
Attendance: 84,068

London Irish 22 Newcastle Falcons 21

London Irish
Tries: Aulika, Steele, Fenby
Conversions: Geraghty 2
Penalties: Noakes

Newcastle Falcons
Tries: Harris, Powell
Conversion: Catterick
Penalties: Catterick 3

Referee: Greg Garner
Attendance: 15,731

FRIDAY
 
Northampton Saints 52 Wasps 30

Northampton Saints
Tries: North 2, penalty, Corbisiero, K Pisi, Tuala 2
Conversions: Myler 4
Penalties: Myler 3

Wasps
Tries: Wade 3
Conversions: Lozowski 3
Penalties: Lozowski 3

Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys
Attendance: 13,362
 
Tickets to the Aviva Premiership Rugby Final are selling faster than this time last year so with just four 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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