Europe pressure eases for top six

The top six English clubs are still fighting for Premiership play-off positions, but at least they have secured their place in the new European championship next year.

A late try by former England winger Matt Banahan's sealed a crucial bonus-point victory for Bath as they battled towards the league play-offs with a 32-20 win over Worcester at the Rec on Saturday. Tries from Micky Young, Horacio Agulla and Nick Abendanon had Bath 19-5 up and cruising at half-time but the relegated Warriors hit back and closed to 25-20.

The bonus-point victory sees Bath move third, edging ahead of the Leicester Tigers, and extends their lead over fifth-placed Harlequins to five points.

While Wasps are out of the running for the Premiership play-offs, their bonus point 38-30 victory over Gloucester helped them move ahead in the race for a place in the new European Rugby Champions Cup.

Tries from James Haskell, Tom Varndell and Elliot Daly gave Wasps an eight-point advantage at the break, with Gloucester posting an early Jonny May try and 11 points from the boot of Billy Twelvetrees. The former Cheetahs flank Ashley Johnson powered over for the Londoners on the hour mark and though Huia Edmonds responded for Gloucester, Haskell grabbed his second score of the game to cap a fine showing.

With the Exeter Chiefs losing 55-12 at home to the Sale Sharks, the result lifted Wasps up to seventh and into pole position for the play-off spot for the Champions Cup. Sale scored eight tries in the demolition of the Chiefs, securing a place in the European competition in sixth place.

A late Harlequins rally saw Conor O'Shea's men down Leicester Tigers 24-20 in an exciting encounter at The Stoop on Friday. Mike Brown's try and Ben Botica's penalty saw the hosts over turn a 20-16 deficit in the final stages, after a five-pointer from Niki Goneva and three penalties from the boot of Toby Flood had given Leicester the lead.

Nothing could separate the sides as they went in locked at 13-13 at the break. Leicester had taken a 13-3 advatange through the Fijian's score – keeping him top of the league try-scoring chart – and two Flood penalties, but Quins hit back to level via Nick Evans' second three-pointer and a penalty try.


Harlequins 24 Leicester 22
Exeter 12 Sale 55
Bath 32 Worcester 20
Wasps 38 Gloucester 30


Newcastle vs Saracens
Northampton vs London Irish

Photo: Ben Hoskins/Getty Images