Saracens Storm moved up into second in the Southern Conference with a comfortable 50-10 win at Allianz Park against Bath United in the Premiership Rugby A League this weekend.
Tom Whiteley impressed for the home side with a try, an assist and 15 points from the tee, as Saracens gave themselves a fighting chance of reaching the semi-finals.
The Storm will need Gloucester United to do them a favour and beat Harlequins, who are a point behind in third spot.
Whitely was instrumental from the off, his darting run setting up an attacking opportunity, before spraying a looping pass wide for Rotimi Segun to score.
He then bagged a try of his own, profiting from Nick Tompkins’s excellent break, before Nathan Earle and Joel Kpoku added tries before half-time.
Bath’s Jeff Williams scored just after the break, but Earle responded with a second almost straight away, and two more scores from Reuben Bird-Tulloch and Tadgh McElroy ensured a large margin of victory.
Pifeleti – Kpoku – Morris
— Saracens Rugby Club (@Saracens) 14 April 2018
Elsewhere in the Southern Conference, London Irish sewed up sixth position with a 33-19 win in the second leg of their play-off with Bristol United.
Leading 62-5 from the home leg, Irish were made to work slightly harder this time around after Ryan Edwards gave Bristol an early lead, wrestling a Billy Searle crosskick from the arms of his opposite number Ben Ransom.
Irish hit back with tries from Topsy Ojo, Ben Meehan and Johnny Williams before securing a fourth score with a penalty try shortly before half-time.
Bristol fought back from 29-5 down to within seven points of the visitors, thanks to a Sam Bellow score and Edwards grabbing his second of the game.
But as Bristol pushed to draw level, Ransom broke clear and raced in from his own 22 to finish the scoring.
— London Irish (@LiRFC) 17 April 2018
In the Northern Conference, Sale Jets restored some pride, with their second win in 10 matches, beating second-placed Newcastle Falcons 26-24.
The Falcons, who were already assured of a semi-final spot, led at half-time in what was an even game throughout, after centre Tom Penny and hooker Jamie Blamire crossed the whitewash in response to Johnny Leota’s early try for Sale.
Tries from Henry Vaka and Tomasi Tanumi then put Sale ahead, and despite a Sam Stuart score, the Jets pulled clear with Ciaran Booth’s bonus point score.
Blamire’s second try late on secured two bonus points for the Falcons but academy manager Mark Laycock knows improvements will be required if they’re to go all the way to the final.
He said: “We’re very frustrated and disappointed to only come away with two bonus points.
“We were 12-7 up at half-time despite missing a number of chances, and this result isn’t what we have been working for.
“Our junior academy players and the guest players who came in from local clubs and universities got some valuable game time and it was good in that sense, but we lacked composure in attack and made basic defensive errors.
“We have an away semi-final next Monday night, and will need to significantly improve on this performance if we are to proceed into the final.”
— Ian Garrod (@ITGarrod) 16 April 2018