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Irish remain top of Aviva Premiership
Late onslaught keeps London side point clear of Northampton
Posted Nov 02, 2010 by Jeff Dawson
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Well how about that for a weekend of fantastic action and surprise results in the Aviva Premiership then! There were some stand out performances from Exeter Chiefs and Gloucester while league leaders London Irish had to stage a late onslaught against Sale Sharks to stay one point ahead of Northampton Saints.
It was one of those weekends where form generally went out of the window and clubs scrapping down at the bottom forced the issue and earned some reward along the way.
So let’s start with Exeter Chiefs. This season’s new boys have tried to play attacking rugby all season but have come unstuck against some of the bigger clubs. But on Saturday, they took the game to Saracens and earned a magnificent 9-23 victory after dominating much of the match. Saracens, with only one defeat to their name before this match, had been expected to sweep the Devon outfit to one side with comparative ease but the Chiefs proved to be more than a match for the high flying hosts. Davis was the star of the show, scoring a try and kicking three penalties and two conversions for the visitors.
Also on Saturday, Gloucester, as I rightly predicted, defeated reigning champions Leicester Tigers 19-12 at Kingsholm with a late try from Lesley Vainikolo. An entertaining first half saw the hosts narrowly edge ahead thanks to three Nicly Robinson penalties compared to Billy Twelvetrees two for the visitors. The win moves Gloucester up to third, eight points off the leaders but as they continue to find their form and feet, the team from the southwest could prove to be one to watch out for this year. Defeat leaves Leicester in fifth but with four defeats in seven games, a title challenge seems a long way off materialising.
Northampton Saints continued to dominate all with a comprehensive 34-13 win over struggling Newcastle. Tries from Dickson, Tonks, Ansbro and Downey and a masterful kicking display from Myler was far too much for the Falcons. This result leaves Saints one point off the top whilst Newcastle, with just six points to their name, are in serious danger of relegation.
On Sunday, Leeds Carnegie made it seven defeats from seven as Wasps eased past them 8-17 whilst London Irish beat Sale 39-26 and Harlequins and Bath drew 6-6.
Leeds, rooted to the bottom of the table with two points struggled to contain the visitors and the result was never really in doubt after the first half as Wasps led 3-7 at the whistle. Simpson and Rees crossed for maximums with van Gisbergen adding a penalty and both conversions.
Irish were pegged back by Sale but did enough to return to the top of the table following Northampton’s win. Irish led by 20 points with 25 minutes remaining after Ryan Lamb scored 24 of their 26 points before a stunning Sale fightback brought the game to 26-26. Anitelea and Ben Cohen crossed for tries whilst Nick MacLeod added four kicks. But Lamb kicked two more penalties to settle home nerves before Jonathan Joseph intercepted to go over and secure an extra bonus point.
In the final match of the weekend, the game between the Quins and Bath proved a major disappointment as both Evans and Barkley kicked two penalties each to earn a share of the spoils. This game had promised so much but failed to deliver any real drama.