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Aviva Premiership Wrap: Round 18

Saracens laid down a marker and director of rugby Mark McCall couldn’t have been happier following their win over Exeter Chiefs that moved them back to the top of the Aviva Premiership Rugby table.

In tricky conditions at Allianz Park, Saracens ran in five tries in a 36-18 victory, leapfrogging their opponents on the day in the process.

And with Owen Farrell one of a number of England internationals returning to the squad, McCall was delighted with the performance as his team hit the final stretch with four rounds to go.

He said: "It says a bit about Owen, having not played at 10 for eight or nine weeks, to produce that kind of performance.

"That goes for all of our international players. To win a Grand Slam and the high of that, and then to turn in the performance they all did says something about them.

"Playing into that strong wind in the first half, it was kind of as good as it gets.

"Overall, it was a brilliant performance."

Wasps kept up the pressure on the top two on Sunday with a convincing win at Newcastle Falcons, running in five tries of their own.

Thomas Young and Dan Robson managed two tries apiece for Wasps in a 34-20 win, and they now sit just a point behind Exeter, and Dai Young admits they might have to set some new objectives for the season.

He said: "Top four is over-reaching where a lot of people thought we would be at the start of the year, but if we keep on winning we could really push for a home semi-final in the last couple of games.”

Next up will be Northampton Saints, who picked up a vital win over Harlequins, running in four tries in a 29-23 success.

Harry Mallinder’s score sealed the bonus point, and dad Jim feels the club are starting to hit their stride.

He said: "We're back in the top four and that's where we wanted to get back to.

"We had a disappointing start to the season but we've been working hard.”

Northampton were able to move into fourth with that win after Leicester Tigers were beaten at Sale Sharks, 27-20.

In a game interrupted by lightning, Sale maintained their unbeaten home record this season, with Danny Cipriani starring on his way to 17 points including the matchwinning try.

Director of rugby Steve Diamond said: "Danny saw the gap and took it and scored a brilliant try to be fair.

"His goal-kicking was great, his defence was good and it was a complete performance by him really.”

On Saturday Worcester Warriors had all but secured safety with victory over London Irish at Sixways.

In a real dogfight it was the Warriors who emerged victorious thanks to four Tom Heathcote penalties, and Dean Ryan believes the future is bright for the club.

He said: “We said we have to outwork them, we have to stay on task and we have to defend.

“I thought defensively we were outstanding because they threw everything at us. For us it is about trying to change the way this club moves forward.”

Finally Bath Rugby claimed the bragging rights in the West Country derby with a 17-12 win over Gloucester Rugby.

Semesa Rokoduguni was the star of the show at Kingsholm with two tries as Bath outscored their opponents three tries to none.

Bath coach Toby Booth said: "Everyone knows what Roko brings. He's unbelievably strong and powerful. He's a try scorer and every team needs one. He does it for us on a regular basis.”

SUNDAY 

Sale Sharks 27 Leicester Tigers 20
 
Sale Sharks
Tries: Neild, Edwards, Cipriani
Conversions: Cipriani 3
Penalties: Cipriani 2
 
Leicster Tigers
Tries: Bell, Goneva
Conversions: Williams 2
Penalties: Burns, Williams
 
Referee: Tom Foley
Attendance: 7,687
 
Newcastle Falcons 20 Wasps 34
 
Newcastle Falcons
Tries: Vea, McGuigan
Conversions: Delany 2
Penalties: Delany 2
 
Wasps
Tries: Smith, Robson 2, Young 2
Conversions: Gopperth 3
Penalties: Gopperth
 
Referee: JP Doyle
Attendance: 6,725
 
Northampton Saints 29 Harlequins 23
 
Northampton Saints
Tries: Waller, Lawes, Foden, Mallinder
Conversions: Myler 3
Penalties: Myler
 
Harlequins
Tries: Visser, Clifford
Conversions: Botica 2
Penalties: Botica 3
 
Referee: Tim Wigglesworth
Attendance: 15,500
 
SATURDAY
 
Saracens 36 Exeter Chiefs 18

Saracens
Tries: Goode, Vunipola B, Farrell, Wray, Wyles
Conversions: Farrell 3, Goode
 
Exeter Chiefs
Tries: Waldrom 2
Conversions: Hooley
Penalties: Steenson 2
 
Referee: Matt Carley
Attendance: 9,749
 
Worcester Warriors 12 London Irish 6
 
Worcester Warriors
Penalties: Heathcote 4
 
London Irish
Penalties: Tonks 2
 
Referee: Greg Garner
Attendance: 9,234
 
Gloucester Rugby 12 Bath Rugby 17
 
Gloucester Rugby
Penalties: Laidlaw 4
 
Bath Rugby
Tries: Cook, Rokoduguni 2
Conversions: Ford
 
Referee: Wayne Barnes
Attendance: 16,115 

If you want to be at the world's biggest club rugby final, this year's Aviva Premiership Rugby Final on 28 May, tickets are still available from premiershiprugby.com/final.

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