Bristol into second, Exeter extend Premiership lead

The Bristol Bears climbed into second place in the Premiership with a 16-12 win over Saracens, while there were wins for the Exeter Chiefs, Bath and Gloucester on Saturday.

In a tightly-fought wet-weather contest, Bristol were able to edge out Saracens and grab four points to climb above the Sale Sharks into second place on the Premiership table.

The decisive moment of the match came in the final 10 minutes. With Saracens leading 12-9 thanks to four penalties from Alex Goode, Bristol set up a maul near the tryline. Bristol centre Siale Piutau looked certain to score but was tackled out by Saracens hooker Jamie George. However, replays showed that George had entered the maul illegally, leaving the referee but to award a penalty try.

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Springbok tighthead prop Vincent Koch had a mixed outing for Saracens, as both he and loosehead Mako Vunipola struggled in the scrums, but they recovered well in the second half.

In Saturday’s other results, the Exeter Chiefs were able to extend their lead at the top of the Premiership table to nine points after claiming a 26-13 bonus-point win over the Leicester Tigers. This came after Sale Sharks slumped to a loss against Harlequins on Friday.

Jannes Kirsten shifted from his more regular position at lock to start at blindside flank for the Chiefs and was the pick of the South African players involved, making five carries for 19 meters and four tackles.

Meanwhile, Gloucester, who had Ruan Ackermann at blindside flank, punished a 14-man Worcester Warriors team with a 44-15 thrashing in Worcester.  The Warriors lost fullback Melani Nani to a red card for a dangerous first-half tackle on Gloucester wing Jonny May.

Gloucester, who were playing in their first match under new head coach George Skivington after Johan Ackermann left in the break, wasted no time in using their numbers advantage as wing Ollie Thorley scored a brace to go with tries from Jack Singleton, Louis Rees-Zammit, Jason Woodward, Freddie Clarke and Steve Varney. South African wing Scott van Breda scored a late consolation try for the Warriors.

Bath temporarily climbed into the playoff places as they went level in fourth place with the Northampton Saints after beating London Irish 34-17. The Northampton Saints face Wasps in Sunday’s only Premiership match.

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Premiership results (Saturday):

Worcester Warriors 15 Gloucester 44
Exeter Chiefs 26 Leicester Tigers 13
Bath 34 London Irish 17
Bristol Bears 6 Saracens 6

Photo: Getty Images

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Dylan Jack