• Guinness Premiership - Round 20

Tigers maul Falcons to return to Premiership summit

April 18, 2010
Johne Murphy goes over in the corner as the Tigers run riot © Getty Images

Leicester powered back to the top of the Guinness Premiership table on Sunday with a 31-7 bonus point victory over Newcastle at Welford Road.

The Falcons were shorn of their full front row before kick-off with Carl Hayman (back), Jon Golding (ankle), Rob Vickers (neck) all failing late fitness tests and it showed as Leicester secured a try-scoring bonus point in just over half an hour. The Tigers were happy to sit on their 28-0 half-time lead and run their bench in the second half, while Newcastle showed much more fight scoring a try through Charlie Amesbury.

The Tigers pack destroyed the Newcastle scrum early on, and a back-row pick-up and drive ended with Lewis Moody scoring near the post, with Toby Flood converting for a 7-0 lead after 20 minutes. It was quickly 14-0 with relentless pressure from Leicester ending with a Geoff Parling charge and Ben Youngs' floated pass putting Johne Murphy over the in the corner.

Not only were Newcastle under the cosh in the scrum, they lost their third line-out in a row on their own throw, and a high kick had the Falcons defence floundering with Flood cruising through under the posts for 21-0 after just 28 minutes. Moody then shrugged off ineffectual tackling to grab his second after 34 minutes and again Flood converted.

Amesbury hit back with a 48th-minute try after the break, but Leicester were content to run their bench as they eased back to the Premiership summit.

Also on Sunday, strugglers Leeds Carnegie took a big step towards Premiership survival with a 23-13 win at London Irish that leaves them six points above bottom side Worcester with just two rounds of the regular season remaining. From the moment Leeds got their noses in front, Irish struggled to find their usual fluency and, despite a succession of penalty-scrums failed to overcome a tremendous defence.

Irish imploded on 34 minutes as Delon Armitage dropped a probing high ball and his team-mates appeared to freeze for a few seconds, during which Leeds centre Luther Burrell reacted fastest, snaffling up the ball, stepping Peter Hewat and banging the ball down by the post before being tackled.

Hewat lifted home spirits on 38 minutes when he took a pass from Jamie Gibson and crossed the Leeds line, but Leeds took the initiative during the early second-half exchanges and, but for some poor final calls, would have increased their lead. Irish gradually regained the upper hand but, despite winning four penalties in the Leeds 22, and requesting scrums for every one, they could not crack the visitors' defence. The cost was immense as Lee Blackett intercepted a loose pass on 70 minutes and sent Jon Goodridge in for a try, converted by Thomas.

A hat-trick of Chris Ashton tries helped Northampton briefly go top of the table on Saturday night after their bonus point 38-23 win over Gloucester

The result put the Saints top of the table ahead of Leicester's trip north to Newcastle. The England winger's last ditch third claimed the all-important bonus for the home side who were made to work all the way by a dogged Gloucester side.

Saracens produced a devestating display to win the London derby at Wembley, defeating Harlequins 37-18 in front of 47,106 spectators.

A Hougaard penalty made the score 18-8 at the break, but Sarries cut loose after half-time and scored three tries without reply. Alex Goode and Justin Marshall set Brits up for the score his play deserved, before Michael Tagicakibau and Ernst Joubert got the bonus point, with Ugo Monye and Chris York scoring late consolations for the visitors.

Wasps heaped further relegation woe on Worcester with a narrow 24-20 win in the Guinness Premiership clash at Sixways Stadium.

The result leaves the Warriors four points adrift of Leeds at the basement with just two games left and defeat against their fellow strugglers next weekend could see the end of their six--year stint in English rugby's top flight. In contrast, victory for Wasps took them into fourth above London Irish, who lost to Leeds on Sunday.

Bath's Matt Banahan powers through the Sale defence at The Rec © Getty Images

The visitors were made to scrap in the sunshine after two Dominic Waldouck tries and a Tom Rees touchdown put them 21-3 up midway through the first half. Worcester, belying their rock-bottom status, displayed admirable character to fight back through tries from skipper Pat Sanderson and substitute centre Alex Grove, while fly-half Willie Walker booted 10 points. At one stage, Wasps looked as though they could score at ease, but they ended a fast and furious contest hanging on, such was the ferocity of Worcester's recovery act with three conversions and a penalty from the boot of Danny Cipriani proving the difference between the sides.

Bath maintained their push for the Guinness Premiership post-season with a comprehensive 34-15 victory over Sale at The Rec.

Five seperate players crossed the line for the hosts who dominated throughout. Ollie Barkley got them up and running with a penalty, before he converted Lee Mears' 24th minute try. The inside centre then crossed for one of his own, adding the extras to give his side a commanding 17-0 lead.

Richard Wigglesworth pulled back a penalty for the Sharks, but that couldn't stem the tide and it took just three second half minutes for Matt Banahan to power over for a try, which Barkley converted. Joe Maddock claimed the bonus point, before prop David Barnes got himself on the scoresheet. Fijian flanker Sisa Koyamaibole had crossed for the visitors, while Kris Ormsby claimed a late consolation try.

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