Aviva Premiership
Saints go marching on against Falcons
ESPN Staff
February 23, 2014
Northampton's Tom Stephenson connects with Will Welch © Getty Images

James Wilson's first-half double helped Northampton to a 22-16 win over Newcastle Falcons at Kingston Park on Sunday.

Newcastle snatched a losing bonus point with a Noah Cato try two minutes from time but the Saints had already done enough damage to secure the win. Northampton's opening try in the seventh minute came from a quick free kick by scrum-half Kahn Fotuali'i, and Wilson cruised in at the corner for 5-0 with the Newcastle defence nowhere to be seen. They soon had a second when Tom Stephenson's weaving 16th-minute run ended up with him going under the posts.

Wilson's second try came from terrific passing under pressure from Fotuali'i and Myler, and George Pisi could have scored himself but handed it in on to Wilson. Myler's conversion was heading wide until the wind blew it inside the post for 19-6.

Newcastle made a much better fist of the second-half and spurned two kickable penalties to go for the line-out drive but Northampton's defence proved as good as their attack and both drives fizzled out. It was not until the 78th minute there was any real action when Cato snatched a loose pass from Myler to go over. Joel Hodgson nailed a key conversion to hand the Falcons a losing bonus point.

Leicester's Vereniki Goneva battles past the London Irish defence, London Irish v Leicester Tigers, Aviva Premiership, Madejksi Stadium, February 23, 2014
Vereniki Goneva excelled for Leicester © Getty Images

Leicester Tigers retook fourth spot in the Premiership thanks to a hard fought 20-15 win over London Irish at the Madejski Stadium.

Leicester outscored London Irish 10-9 in the first-half with Ben Youngs scampering in early on and Lugovi'i Mulipola scoring their second despite it looking from some angles that he was held up by Ovisa Treviranus. In return, Irish mustered three penalties from James O'Connor though were reduced to 14 men in the 36th minute when Eamon Sheridan was sin-binned for catching Mathew Tait in the air.

And it was the Tigers who started the second-half the better as Vereniki Goneva's superb solo effort gave them a strong lead. Although Owen Williams added a penalty minutes later to make it 20-9, London Irish refused to lie down as penalties from O'Connor and Iain Humphries chipped Ireland back to within five points of Leicester, who had Thomas Waldrom sin-binned on the 67th minute.

Saracens' Joel Tomkins is welcomed back to first-team rugby, Saracens v Exeter Chiefs, Aviva Premiership, Allianz Park, February 23, 2014
Welcome back to first-team rugby, Joel Tomkins © Getty Images

In the closing stages of the match London Irish thought they had the try that would give them a shot at the win but Jebb Sinclair's effort was ruled out for a knock-on in the build-up.

Exeter Chiefs suffered their fifth straight defeat in the Premiership as Saracens beat them 23-10 at Allianz Park.

Exeter started the better of the two teams with Ian Whitten crashing over in the corner after just nine minutes. But the Chiefs lost an essential figure in their pack, hooker Jack Yeandle, which led to Saracens getting the better of the set piece. Their territory was eventually rewarded with a try in the 33rd minute when James Johnston was the man left holding the ball as a rolling maul trundled over the Exeter line.

Come the second 40, with the scores locked at 7-7, it was Saracens who took the lead when the rolling maul again paid dividends as all but two of the home side's XV joined forces to push Schalk Brits over the line. Despite a lengthy delay for what looked to be a nasty injury for Mouritz Botha, Saracens continued keeping the pressure on Exeter and a pair of Charlie Hodgson penalties stretched the lead to 20-10.

Saracens finished the game with 14 men with Jacques Burger in the bin but still added another three points through Hodgson as they closed the game out.

Pos Team P W D L F A F-A TBP LBP BP Pts
1 Northampton Saints 15 13 1 1 390 215 +175 4 1 5 59
2 Saracens 15 13 0 2 413 213 +200 6 0 6 58
3 Bath Rugby 15 11 1 3 345 255 +90 2 1 3 49
4 Leicester Tigers 15 9 2 4 314 293 +21 2 2 4 44
5 Harlequins 15 9 0 6 276 220 +56 2 3 5 41
6 Sale Sharks 15 8 0 7 271 262 +9 2 5 7 39
7 London Wasps 15 6 0 9 291 300 -9 2 8 10 34
8 Exeter Chiefs 15 6 0 9 278 290 -12 1 5 6 30
9 Gloucester Rugby 15 5 0 10 261 340 -79 1 6 7 27
10 London Irish 15 5 0 10 251 305 -54 0 6 6 26
11 Newcastle Falcons 15 3 0 12 137 316 -179 0 4 4 16
12 Worcester Warriors 15 0 0 15 176 394 -218 0 4 4 4

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