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Aviva Premiership Rugby wrap: Round 16

London Irish boss Tom Coventry insists there is plenty of fight left in his side despite seeing them slip to a 26-16 loss against table-topping Saracens in New Jersey.

Alex Goode – discarded by England boss Eddie Jones for Six Nations duty in the week – scored 19 points in the first-ever Aviva Premiership Rugby fixture to be played overseas.

Goode's first-half try gave Sarries the lead on this historic occasion after Greig Tonks' penalty had put Irish ahead.

Alex Lewington's try and two more penalties from fly-half Tonks saw the Exiles lead 13-7 at the break but four Goode penalties and a late Nick Tompkins try won it for Saracens.

Sarries stay top of the table with the victory while Coventry’s Exiles are now eight points adrift at the foot of the standings.

"If you dwell on it for too long, we're going to have a crew of guys that are pretty mentally sick coming to work every day worrying about what everyone's saying," said the head coach.

"A positive mindset is the only way going forward I can see. It's a tough road to go when you come to work and you don't want to be there. We've got to find a reason to want to play the game.

"We've just got to be a little more ruthless on teams. Someone said to me out there maybe every game is a Cup tie or a Test match and we've been treating them like that.

"We're going to have to get a few things to go our way and we're going to have to be a much better rugby team over the next six weeks to do what we need to do."

Elsewhere on Saturday, Exeter Chiefs forwards coach Rob Hunter was full of praise for fly-half Gareth Steenson after he broke the club's league scoring record during their 32-17 bonus point victory over Newcastle Falcons.

Steenson ended the day with a personal haul of 12 points, while there were also second-half tries from No.8 Thomas Waldrom, full-back Phil Dollman, centre Sam Hill and hooker Elvis Taione.

"It is fantastic. It is a huge accolade for Gareth. He is a killer in front of the posts, there is no doubt about it," said Hunter.

"He has been a key part of Exeter's success on and off the field for many years now. He adds so much more than just those points."

The form team in the league continued their relentless charge towards the summit of the table as Wasps leapfrogged Leicester into third position after beating the Tigers 36-24 in Coventry.

Charles Piutau scored early for Wasps but Peter Betham intercepted Christian Wade's pass to give Tigers the lead.

Wade immediately crossed at the other end and Piutau's second score gave the hosts a 22-10 half-time advantage.

Further tries from Frank Halai and Nathan Hughes sealed victory for Wasps, although Telusa Veainu and Vereniki Goneva responded for Leicester.

Meanwhile, Northampton Saints staged a second-half fightback as they beat Sale Sharks 26-11 and went up to fourth in the table.

Bryn Evans went over in the corner after a Sale overlap before penalties from Danny Cipriani and Tom Arscott.

Northampton hit-back late in the first half as Mikey Haywood crossed from close range after Evans was sin-binned.

Two quick tries after the break from Ken Pisi and Tom Collins put the Saints ahead before JJ Hanrahan danced through the Sharks defence late on.

Bryce Heem's brace of tries may have grabbed the spotlight, but Dean Ryan praised his front row's destructive performance after Worcester Warriors beat Gloucester Rugby 28-20 at Sixways.

Warriors led 15-10 at the break after two first-half Heem tries, either side of Bill Meakes' Gloucester try.

A second-half pile-up by the posts earned Warriors a third try, credited to hooker Niall Annett.

James Hook's try was part of a 15-point haul, but could not prevent a rare derby defeat for Gloucester.

"Full credit to our front row, they made a very serious mark against some powerful opponents," said Ryan.

"They won the game for us and when you see their prop, John Afoa, dragged off the field, you know how much damage they've done.

"We now look a decent side as we have been getting better all season. The young group of players has never shied away from the challenge but we are getting more consistent.

"There has always been the pressure of relegation but we have had opportunities to get rid of that pressure but we haven't been clinical enough for whilst our performances have been good, our results haven't."

Elsewhere, on Friday night Harlequins survived a late Bath Rugby onslaught to earn a bonus-point 35-28 win and go fifth in the league.

Bath conceded 24 points either side of half-time while they were down to 14 men after Chris Cook was sin-binned.

Charlie Walker crossed twice and James Horwill also went over for the hosts, adding to Harry Sloan's early score.

But Bath scored three tries and 22 unanswered points in the final 15 minutes to earn an unlikely losing bonus point of their own.

Amanaki Mafi, Jeff Williams and Semesa Rokoduguni all touched down after Harlequins replacement Sam Twomey was sin-binned.
 
SATURDAY
 
London Irish 16 Saracens 26
 
London Irish
Tries: Lewington
Conversions: Tonks
Penalties: Tonks 3

Saracens
Tries: Goode, Tompkins
Conversions: Spencer, Goode
Penalties: Goode 4

Referee: Luke Pearce
Attendance: 14,811
 
Exeter Chiefs 32 Newcastle Falcons 17
 
Exeter Chiefs
Tries: Waldrom, Dollman, Hill, Taione
Conversions: Steenson 3
Penalties: Steenson 2

Newcastle Falcons
Tries: Takulua, Latu
Conversions: Delany 2
Penalties: Delany

Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys
Attendance: 9,174

Wasps 36 Leicester Tigers 24
 
Wasps
Tries: Wade, Piutau 2, Halai, Hughes
Conversions: Gopperth 3, Lozowski
Penalties: Gopperth

Leicester
Tries: Betham, Veainu, Goneva
Conversions: Burns 3
Penalties: Burns

Referee: Greg Garner
 
Northampton 26 Sale Sharks 11
 
Northampton Saints
Tries: Haywood, Pisi K, Collins, Hanrahan
Conversions: Myler 3

Sale Sharks
Tries: Evans
Penalties: Cipriani, Arscott

Attendance: 14,377
Referee: JP Doyle
 
Worcester Warriors 28 Gloucester Rugby 20
 
Worcester Warriors
Tries: Heem 2, Annett
Conversions: Heathcote 2
Penalties: Heathcote 3

Gloucester Rugby
Tries: Meakes, Hook
Conversions: Hook 2
Penalties: Hook 2

Attendance: 10,124
Referee: Ian Tempest
 
FRIDAY
 
Harlequins 35 Bath Rugby 28
 
Harlequins
Tries: Sloan, Walker 2, Horwill
Conversions: Botica 3
Penalties: Botica 3
 
Bath Rugby
Tries: Mafi, Williams, Rokoduguni
Conversions: Homer 2
Penalties: Homer 3
 
Attendance: 14,800
Referee: Dean Richards
 
 

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