Gallagher Premiership: Exeter Chiefs and Northampton Saints seal bonus-point wins
By Sky Sports Rugby Union
Last Updated: 05/01/20 6:05pm
The Gallagher Premiership's frontrunners strengthened their grip on the top two in the final matches of the weekend.
Leaders Exeter Chiefs stormed to a bonus-point win away to London Irish, while Northampton Saints dug deep after having a man sent off to snatch victory over Wasps at the Ricoh Arena.
Here, we round-up all of the key points from the final two matches of Round 8...
London Irish 28-45 Exeter Chiefs
Sam Hill led the way with two tries as Exeter posted a sixth league win of the season by overcoming London Irish at the Madejski Stadium.
The try-scoring bonus point had been secured for the visitors by half-time, thanks to a burst of scoring three converted tries in the space seven minutes.
Lock Davie Dennis, hooker Luke Cowan-Dickie and Ollie Devoto all followed centre Hill, who opened the scoring after just three minutes, over the Exiles' line before the break and there was no way back for the hosts as they were condemned to a third successive league defeat.
Ali Hepher: Really pleased with the way the guys fought out there, especially after last week. Wasn’t perfect obviously, plenty of mistakes and indiscipline.— Exeter Chiefs (@ExeterChiefs) January 5, 2020
Hung in well during the 13 man period.
Even so, Irish battled away to claim four tries of their own and collect a losing bonus point, with Exeter briefly being reduced to 13 men in the second half when wing Olly Woodburn and centre Devoto were sin-binned for deliberate knock-ons.
Hill added his second try just after the break followed by replacement scrum-half Stu Townsend crossing, with Irish replying through scores from wingers Belgium Tuatagaloa and Ollie Hassell-Collins, No. 8 Albert Tuisue and flanker Steve Mafi - all converted by Stephen Myler.
Gareth Steenson finished with 15 points from six conversions and a penalty for Exeter, and they remain top of the Premiership heading into the final two rounds of the European Champions Cup pool stages.
Wasps 31-35 Northampton Saints
Taqele Naiyaravoro's try three minutes from time earned Northampton Saints a first-ever victory against Wasps at the Ricoh Arena as the Premiership's second-placed team survived being reduced to 14 men with a quarter of an hour remaining.
Cobus Reinach got the Saints off to a flying start when he took Dan Biggar's pass to race away for a converted try with barely three minutes gone and although Marcus Watson got the hosts back on level terms with a converted score out wide, the away side led at the break thanks to a 35th-minute try from man of the match Teimana Harrison.
Tom Wood's try from a charge-down close to Wasps' line within one minute of the restart plus Reinach's second 11 minutes later clinched the bonus point and looked to have put Northampton firmly in control, but Wasps hit back through Matteo Minozzi and replacement Jimmy Gopperth.
Then in the 65th minute, Collins was sent off for the first time in his career after colliding with Jacob Umaga while the Wasps fly-half was in the air - an incident which left both players down and needing attention from the clubs' medical staff.
Northampton were then temporarily reduced to 13 men when Reinach was sin-binned for a deliberate knock-on as the clock ticked into the 70th minute, with referee Matthew Carley awarding a penalty try to put the home side ahead.
But with time ticking away, Naiyaravoro powered over following a scrum in Wasps' 22 and Biggar converted to put the seal on the Saints' sixth Premiership win of the season.