• Brits seals Saracens win

    South African hooker Schalk Brits went from villain to hero as Saracens beat Exeter 23-10 in the English Premiership.

    Brits missed a tackle which enabled Exeter to open the scoring in the ninth minute, and then knocked on when Saracens had a chance to break away. But he made amends with a dynamic performance thereafter, capped by the decisive try shortly after half-time.

    Saracens will be disappointed they did not get more from the match as they dominated possession and territory in the first half, but poor ball control limited their scoring to a drive-over try by prop James Johnston and kept the scoreline to 7-7 at half-time. Brits's try put Saracens into a lead they would not surrender. The only shadow over the win was the removal of South African lock Mouritz Botha on a stretcher after sustaining a dangerous neck injury.

    Northampton were always in control as they beat Newcastle 22-16, a score made more dramatic by a late try from Newcastle. They maintained their position at the top of the table, one point ahead of Saracens.

    With a comfortable cushion for the top two, the battle is below for the remaining play-off places. Harlequins missed the chance to secure their position in the top four when they went down 25-20 to Gloucester on Saturday.

    Quins led 13-7 at half-time, but Gloucester, languishing in the basement of the Premiership, ended a run of three successive defeats with a second-half blitz which produced two tries in eight minutes.

    Bath, however, sitting in third position, did what was necessary in a seven-try thriller against Wasps, winning 35-25. Leicester retook fourth spot thanks to a hard fought 20-15 win over London Irish at the Madejski Stadium on Sunday.

    Results:

    Bath 32 London Wasps 25
    Gloucester 25 Harlequins 20
    Worcester Warriors 12 Sale 24
    London Irish 15 Leicester 20
    Newcastle 16 Northampton 22
    Saracens 23 Exeter 10

    Photo: Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images