Stunning tries, last-ditch defending and crucial wins up and down the league – Aviva Premiership Rugby was back with a bang at the weekend.
Exeter Chiefs had their lead at the top cut after they lost to Worcester Warriors, while 14-man Wasps were excellent in their bonus-point win at Harlequins.
Here’s what you might have missed:
Youngs grabs the headlines but Willis is the star
Thomas Young scored twice as 14-man Wasps beat Harlequins 44-22 Harlequins, but it was his back-row partner in crime Jack Willis who stole the show.
Willis, who has emerged as a real force in recent weeks, was instrumental to their success with some strong defence and a tireless energy which rubbed off on his teammates.
— Guy Thompson (@GuyThompson87) February 11, 2018
Juan de Jongh and Young scored early tries for Wasps before Kyle Eastmond was shown a red card.
Tim Visser and Aaron Morris scored for the hosts as they moved ahead with fly-half Marcus Smith running the show.
But Wasps rebounded after the break with Young’s second try putting them clear while further efforts from Willie le Roux, Tom Cruse and Josh Bassett confirmed the win.
Warriors secure priceless away win
Chris Pennell scored two penalties as Worcester Warriors claimed their first-ever Aviva Premiership Rugby win against Exeter Chiefs at Sandy Park.
Full-back Pennell hit two long-range penalties in the first period as Worcester carried a 6-0 lead into the break – but it was at the other end where they excelled.
Mitch Lees rumbled over for an unconverted scored as Exeter put the squeeze on with many fans expecting the Chiefs to come from behind and win.
But Worcester stayed strong in defence and toughed it out to stretch their lead in the table over London Irish.
Burns downs Saints as Bath power on
Freddie Burns has had to battle for the Bath Rugby fly-half jersey this season but he hit 17 points as they beat Northampton Saints 32-9 on Friday night.
Piers Francis kicked three penalties for the visitors but it was not enough as Matt Banahan’s try at the end of the first half put Bath 16-6 up.
Personal highlight for me last night at the Rec was my post match interview with @Rossbatty2 with his beaming smile. It’s been a long hard road back from injury pal all associated with the 🔵⚫️⚪️ are delighted for you. Keep those tries coming too man #👌👏👏👏
— andrew sheridan (@radio_sheri) February 10, 2018
And they stretched that advantage late on as Nick Auterac scored from a superb looping Burns’ pass and Ross Batty finished it off towards the end.
Trinder too good for Leicester Tigers
Henry Trinder put in a sensational performance as Gloucester maintained their unbeaten home record in the Aviva Premiership Rugby this season by beating past Leicester Tigers 24-17.
The visitors twice led in the first half following tries from Nick Malouf and Joe Ford – with the latter benefiting from a superb pass from Brendan O’Connor.
However, Gloucester moved the ball too quickly and Trinder was in twice in the corners.
Saracens on the rise again
It rained heavily in north London but Saracens took extra care not to slip up as they beat Newcastle Falcons with a powerful display from the front five.
Reaction | We spoke to MOTM @bazzbarrington, @premrugby debutant @T_whiteley95 and @Chipifigallo after this afternoon’s hard fought win against Newcastle at a wet and windy @AllianzPark pic.twitter.com/Kme706waJx
— Saracens Rugby Club (@Saracens) February 10, 2018
This was certainly one for the purists but Saracens moved to within two points of Exeter Chiefs thanks to tries from Richard Barrington and a penalty try in the first half.
A Joel Hodgson penalty was all Newcastle had to show for their efforts as Max Malins slid across the line for a late Saracens third.
Sale into top half with win
Sale Sharks are into the top six of the Aviva Premiership Rugby table with a tight and narrow win at London Irish.
Josh Strauss showed power and poise to score the game’s only try and that put them 10-3 ahead at the break.
London Irish hit back hard in the second half with Tommy Bell keep the hosts in touch.
But Faf de Klerk kicked a second-half penalty for Sale and the hosts could not break them down as they fell to defeat.