Aviva Premiership round-up: Semi-finalists and Champions Cup qualifiers decided
Last Updated: 05/05/18 11:11pm
Round 22 of the Aviva Premiership confirmed the semi-final line-ups and the clubs that have booked Champions Cup rugby next season...
Sale 13-35 Leicester
Sale missed out on a European Champions Cup spot after ending their campaign with a home defeat by Leicester.
England fly-half George Ford scored 20 points with a try, three conversions, two penalties and a drop-goal.
Jonah Holmes went over for two tries and Mike Williams also crossed as the Tigers avoided a third successive defeat to end a comparatively disappointing season in fifth place.
Gloucester's defeat at Saracens meant that Leicester were assured of a top-six finish and with it a Champions Cup place but this was an opportunity missed for the Sharks in front of a 10,015-strong crowd at the AJ Bell Stadium.
Bath 63-19 London Irish
Matt Banahan scored three of Bath's nine tries on his farewell appearance as the West Country club sneaked into next season's Champions Cup.
After Sale and Gloucester both lost, without losing bonus points, Bath leapfrogged the duo. The two West Country rivals finished the season on the same number of table points however the blue, black and whites' superior points difference secured sixth position.
It took Bath just three minutes to open their scoring through Taulupe Faletau and by half-time Todd Blackadder's side were 35-0 up. London Irish's first points didn't arrive until the 59th-minute when Joshua McNally scored the first of this two tries.
Banahan's hat-trick had taken his tally to 99 tries for Bath and, although he came close to achieving a century, it was London Irish who finished the scoring. McNally's second, after 81 minutes, was duly converted by their retiring stalwart David Paice who was signing off after a 15-year career with the Exiles.
Newcastle 22-39 Wasps
Wasps snuffed out a late Newcastle fightback to end the Falcons' impressive home record and book a Premiership semi-final at Saracens. As a result Dean Richards' Falcons will travel to the home of the defending champions Exeter in a fortnight's time.
Newcastle drove a lineout in the 10th minute at and extracted a penalty which Sonatane Takulua kicked for 3-0 and then saw little of the ball for much of the game as Wasps ran in three tries in each half through Tom Cruse, Elliot Daly, Danny Cipriani, Josh Bassett, Jimmy Gopperth and Willie Le Roux.
Josh Matavesi, Zach Kibirige and Evan Olmstead touched down in the final 16 minutes in front of a 10,100 sell-out crowd but there was no way back for the Falcons.
Saracens 62-12 Gloucester
Saracens ended their regular season in impressive fashion by crushing the Cherry and Whites at Allianz Park.
Gloucester shocked their opponents with two sparkling early tries before the hosts assumed complete control to run out easy winners.
Ben Spencer scored two of the Saracens' tries, Sean Maitland, Liam Williams, Juan Figallo, Maro Itoje, Chris Wyles, and Owen Farrell got the others. There was also a penalty try award with Farrell converting four and adding a penalty. Spencer also kicked two conversions.
Debutant Tom Seabrook and David Halaifonua scored Gloucester's tries, with Billy Twelvetrees converting one.
Exeter 41-17 Harlequins
The defending champions had already confirmed a home semi-final leading into Round 22 and Rob Baxter's side completed the regular season with an emphatic six-try win at the Twickenham Stoop.
The defeat consigned Harlequins to a chastening 10th-place finish having won just seven of their 22 games and it meant that their departing director of rugby, John Kingston, did not finish his time with the club on a victorious note.
The Chiefs' position at the summit of the league was already unassailable and they will face Newcastle at Sandy Park in the semi-final with momentum behind them.
Harlequins scored first through Marcus Watson and although the encounter was poised at 27-17 after 69 minutes, the home side lost their way after that.
Late tries from Tom Hendrickson and Alec Hepburn were boosted by the boot of Gareth Steenson and arguably the pick of the scoring was a dazzling 35th-minute try, finished by Joe Simmonds.
Northampton 32-24 Worcester
Northampton finished a difficult season with a rousing bonus-point win and as a result a number of players signed off on positive notes.
On account of his 250th, and final Saints appearance, Ben Foden brushed off an early yellow card to put his name on the scoreboard alongside Mitch Eadie, Nafi Tuitavake, and Tom Collins.
Another departing stalwart, Stephen Myler, arrived off the bench and finished the home side's season with an 81st-minute penalty.
Worcester centres Will Butler and Ben Te'o grabbed the Warriors' tries. The former delivered his double on account of his first Premiership start.
The visiting outfit had led 14-10 at the break, but a potent second-half spell from Saints helped put them 29-24 ahead going into the final quarter before Myler had the final say.