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Aviva Premiership Rugby 2017-18: Five of the best

Aviva Premiership Rugby 2017-18: Five of the best

It’s been a season full of thrills, spills and unforgettable plotlines – sometimes, though, some matches stick in the memory more than any other.

Competition was fierce but we’ve just about managed to pick out five of the best games that took place during the 2017-18 Aviva Premiership Rugby season.

Round One – London Irish 39-29 Harlequins

London Irish returned to Aviva Premiership Rugby in 2017-18 and immediately rose to the occasion with a stirring victory over Harlequins on the opening weekend of the season.

The Exiles were made to wait for their crack at the big time, heading out in front of more than 56,000 fans in the second stanza of the London double-header – they delivered, however.

Thrilling first-half tries from Topsy Ojo and Tommy Bell helped put Irish into the ascendancy, and after Ofisa Treviranus, they withstood a spirited late Harlequins rally, Brendan McKibbin making things safe with just a few minutes to go.

Round Four – Bath 32-33 Newcastle Falcons

Having suffered a 29-7 defeat to Saracens in Philadelphia in Round Three, Newcastle Falcons were in desperate need of some home comforts on September 22, even if they had to travel to the south west to take on Bath.

They were required to draw on every ounce of character they had but ultimately recorded their first victory at the Rec since October 2009.

Sonatane Takulua, Rob Vickers and DTH van der Merwe put Newcastle in control but the pendulum firmly swung back the other way, with Matt Banahan, Semesa Rokoduguni, Charlie Ewels and Jonathan Joseph all going over for Bath, who bagged 17 points in the first 16 minutes of the second period.

But tries from Chris Harris and Mark Wilson helped the Falcons rule the roost, Joel Hodgson converting the latter to sneak his team to victory.

Round 14 – Exeter Chiefs 5-6 Worcester Warriors

An absorbing contest doesn’t always need to be a try-fest – and Worcester Warriors likely didn’t care a jot as they tucked into their first-ever Aviva Premiership Rugby win over Exeter Chiefs.

On a nail-bitingly tense February afternoon at Sandy Park, Worcester somehow kept the high-flying Chiefs at bay in the first period, with two penalties from Chris Pennell making it 6-0 to the visitors at the break.

Mitch Lees powered over from close range to fire Exeter back into contention but Gareth Steenson’s attempted conversion hit the post – cue more defensive heroics from the Warriors, who held on to claim a famous victory.

Round 19 – Sale Sharks 28-27 Wasps

In April, Sale Sharks remained in contention for a top-four place and, when Wasps came to the AJ Bell Stadium, they had Marland Yarde’s late, late show to thank for keeping their dreams alive.

With the visitors down to 14 men, Sale refused to give up on overturning a four-point deficit, and winger Yarde eventually went over in the 12th minute of added time to break Wasps hearts.

Earlier, this Round 19 clash had swung this way and that, with Josh Bassett dotting down twice for Wasps while Rob Webber, Byron McGuigan and Bryn Evans going over for the hosts – but it was Yarde who produced the decisive match-winning heroics.

Round 20 – Leicester Tigers 21-27 Northampton Saints

The East Midlands Derby rarely disappoints and in Round 20, Northampton Saints brought a run of four straight defeats to a halt by winning at Welford Road for the first time in 11 years.

Tries from Ben Foden, Cobus Reinach and Ahsee Tuala saw the Saints come back from 12-10 down as they claimed both the bragging rights and a vital victory to ease their relegation fears.

They also survived an almighty late scare as, with a single score in it, Leicester’s Jonah Holmes touched down, only for the score to be chalked off for an obstruction on Piers Francis.

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