Aviva Premiership Saturday Review

Harlequins regained top spot in the Aviva Premiership less than 24 hours after being deposed by reigning champions Saracens by beating Bath 14-6 on Saturday.

Rugby News: Maurie Fa'asavalu, Harlequins

Their six-month tenure at the head of the table was briefly interrupted when Sarries won 45-9 at Sale on Friday night.

But, in front of a 13,882 sell-out crowd at The Stoop, three penalties from former New Zealand fly-half Nick Evans and a late try by replacement flanker Maurie Fa'asavalu secured a hard-fought victory.

Fly-half Tom Heathcote replied with two penalties for Bath.

Replacement Jack Cuthbert missed two late penalties as the visitors missed out on a losing bonus point.

Former Sale favourite Charlie Hodgson returned to haunt his old club by kicking 20 points in Saracens' bonus-point win at Edgeley Park on Friday.

It was not all about the exemplary performance of Hodgson, though, as the visitors scored two first half tries through Chris Wyles and Ernst Joubert.

Although Sale's Nick Macleod responded with three penalties in the opening period, the Sharks struggled to open up a resilient Saracens defence.

And after two further Hodgson penalties had extended their advantage, Alex Goode, Michael Tagicakibau and Hugh Vyvyan went over in the second period to seal the win.

Back to Saturday's action and Exeter remained on course for the play-offs by claiming a dramatic 28-27 injury-time victory at Gloucester.

Substitute lock Aly Muldowney's last-gasp try, which was awarded on the judgement of television match official Tony Spreadbury, and converted by Muldowney's fellow replacement Gareth Steenson, gave the Chiefs a seventh win from their last eight away games in all competitions.

They looked to have blown it when Gloucester staged a stunning fightback from 18-6 adrift approaching the hour mark.

The Chiefs unravelled in spectacular fashion as Gloucester scored three converted tries during a devastating seven-minute burst.

Wing James Simpson-Daniel, fly-half Freddie Burns - courtesy of a brilliant solo try when he caught his own kick ahead one-handed - and replacement scrum-half Nick Runciman all touched down, while goalkicker Burns finished with 17 points.

Exeter looked as though would head back down the M5 with only a losing bonus point, secured by Steenson's late penalty, and they would have been kicking themselves after prop Craig Mitchell and wing Matt Jess claimed first-half tries.

Fly-half Ignacio Mieres added two penalties and a conversion, but just when it looked as though Exeter were finished they dug deep to claim a first win in their history at Kingsholm.

At the bottom, troubled Wasps were unable to improve their chances of avoiding relegation, losing 32-15 defeat at Northampton.

A 10th defeat in 11 games leaves them just eight points above bottom club Newcastle and their showdown at Wasps' ground in the final game of the season could decide who drops into the Championship.

Northampton's sixth win in their last eight games moved them into third place above Leicester, who meet London Irish on Sunday, and while they deserved to win they left it until the 75th minute to score the bonus-point try.

That came from substitute scrum-half Martin Roberts, the others going to England full-back Ben Foden (2) and centre James Downey, with Ryan Lamb kicking two penalties and two conversions and replacement fly-half Stephen Myler a penalty.

Wasps' points all came from the boot of fly-half Nicky Robinson, who kicked five penalties.

On Friday, Worcester nudged relegation favourites Newcastle closer to the trap-door by winning a dour struggle at Sixways.

Centre Alex Grove's second-half try secured a 19-9 victory for Worcester, leaving bottom club Newcastle still eight points adrift with just four league games left.

Jimmy Gopperth kicked three penalties for the visitors, which was enough to secure a 9-6 advantage approaching the hour mark, but Scotland international Grove then rounded off a spell of sustained pressure and the Falcons were finished.

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