Charlie Hodgson rolled back the years to lead Saracens to a bonus-point win at Newcastle Falcons and the veteran fly-half admits everything went to plan at Kingston Park.
Hodgson scored 21 points, including an intercept try, while Samuela Vunisa, Nick Tompkins and Billy Vunipola also crossed over for the visitors.
The Falcons managed just one Tom Catterick penalty and remain two points off the bottom of the table, while Saracens returned to the top.
“We knew Newcastle were going to kick quite a bit against us so we knew we had to be patient with our own game and not be lured into running the ball back from our own 22,” said Hodgson, who will retire at the end of the season.
“The game opens up towards the end, I guess they get a bit tired of doing that and we managed to exploit a few opportunities.
“I’m enjoying my rugby. I can’t complain too much and whenever I get an opportunity, I’m going to enjoy myself.”
On Saturday, Thomas Waldrom scored a hat-trick of tries as Exeter Chiefs recorded a convincing 41-27 win over Wasps at the Ricoh Arena.
Jack Nowell, Mitch Lees and Moray Low added to Waldrom’s treble, while Gareth Steenson kicked 11 points in the visitors’ bonus-point victory.
Wasps chipped away at the deficit with tries from Frank Halai, Ashley Johnson and Lorenzo Cittadini, while Jimmy Gopperth added 12 points, but they failed to stifle the impressive Chiefs – though an injury to Henry Slade did take some of the shine off the result.
“The way they came back showed a great resolve,” said Exeter head coach Rob Baxter. “Then equally we showed a great resolve and we pretty much had to win the game twice.”
Waldrom was not the only man to grab a hat-trick, however – Tim Visser matched that feat as Harlequins beat London Irish 38-7 at the Stoop.
Nick Evans converted all three of the Scotland winger’s scores, as well as Danny Care’s try, and kicked an early penalty.
Jack Clifford also crossed for the hosts, while Irish could only offer a try from Halani Aulika and the extras from Theo Brophy-Clews in reply.
At Sixways, a late try from Lachlan McCaffrey secured a bonus point for Leicester Tigers as they ran out 29-20 winners over Worcester Warriors.
The hosts’ points came courtesy of tries from Wynand Oliver and Matt Cox while Tom Heathcote added two conversions and two penalties.
But coming from 17-0 down, Tigers capitalised on a red card for Donncha O’Callaghan to snatch victory with tries from Graham Kitchener, Telusa Veainu, a penalty try and McCaffrey, while fly-half Owen Williams kicked nine points.
"We created some opportunities but we were pretty inaccurate at times as well,” reflected Leicester director of rugby Richard Cockerill.
“If Worcester play like that, they will have no problems staying in this competition – I have no doubt of that.”
JJ Hanrahan kicked a late penalty as Northampton Saints battled to a hard-fought 13-11 victory over Bath Rugby at the Rec.
The stand-off slotted an early penalty and converted Luther Burrell’s try to put the visitors in a commanding position.
Though Bath came back strongly with a fine finish from winger Semesa Rokoduguni and two penalties from George Ford, Hanrahan kept his nerve to give his side the win.
And on Friday night, Sione Kalamafoni scored two second-half tries as Gloucester Rugby edged to a 23-19 victory over Sale Sharks at Kingsholm.
Full back Rob Cook got the hosts up and running with a second-minute try, as Billy Twelvetrees kicked two penalties and Greig Laidlaw converted the second of Kalamafoni’s scores.
Two tries from Nev Edwards and three penalties from the boot of Danny Cipriani kept Sale within touching distance but Gloucester managed to hold on.
Newcastle Falcons 3 Saracens 38
Tries: Vunisa, Tompkins, Hodgson, Vunipola B
Conversions: Hodgson 3
Penalties: Hodgson 4
Referee: Andrew Smith
Wasps 27 Exeter Chiefs 41
Tries: Halai, Johnson, Cittadini
Conversions: Gopperth 3
Penalties: Gopperth 2
Tries: Waldrom 3, Nowell, Lees, Low
Conversions: Steenson 4
Referee: Greg Garner
Worcester Warriors 20 Leicester Tigers 29
Tries: Olivier, Cox
Conversion: Heathcote 2
Penalties: Heathcote 2
Tries: Kitchener, Veainu, penalty, McCaffrey
Conversions: Williams 3
Referee: Wayne Barnes
Bath Rugby 11 Northampton Saints 13
Penalties: Ford 2
Yellow cards: Thomas
Penalties: Hanrahan 2
Referee: C Maxwell-Keyes
Harlequins 38 London Irish 7
Tries: Visser 3, Care, Clifford
Conversions: Evans 4, Botica
Referee: Luke Pearce
Gloucester 23 Sale Sharks 19
Tries: Cook, Kalamafoni 2
Penalties: Twelvetrees 2
Tries: Edwards 2
Penalties: Cipriani 3
Referee: JP Doyle
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