The Exeter Chiefs beat Wasps 24-3, while there were also Premiership wins for Leicester, Northampton, Gloucester, Harlequins and Saracens.
Exeter and Wasps both came into the penultimate round of the regular season occupying a playoff spot, but with two more log points, the second-placed Wasps held a home-semi position. The Chiefs thus had to beat them to move into second spot and they did just that.
The Chiefs deprived Wasps of territory and possession for large parts of the contest, a tactic that completely took Wasps’ lethal backline out of the equation.
The hosts struck first in the 26th minute when wing Olly Woodburn crossed for a converted try, but Elliot Daly reduced the deficit with a penalty soon after as Wasps trailed 7-3 at the break.
The second half was one-way traffic as Exeter kept the visitors scoreless, while running in two more converted tries coupled with a penalty goal by Gareth Steenson to claim a crucial victory. The defeat sees the two teams exchange places on the log and if it stays the same after the final round of games next week, one of the semi-finals will be a repeat of this fixture.
Elsewhere, the Leicester Tigers booked their place in the semi-finals for the 12 successive season with a 31-17 bonus-point over the Worcester Warriors. As it stands, the Tigers will travel to Saracens for their semi.
In other matches, lock Victor Matfield’s Northampton Saints fought from 14-0 down to beat Francois Louw’s Bath 15-14, while Greig Laidlaw nailed four penalties as Gloucester beat the Sale Sharks 12-11 at the AJ Bell Stadium. It was Gloucester’s first win in Manchester since 2001 and the Sale’s first league defeat at home this season.
Meanwhile, London Irish have been relegated to the Championship following their 32-25 loss against Harlequins on Sunday, while Saracens secured top spot with a round remaining when they beat the Newcastle Falcons 23-14. The match was Sarries and Namibia legend Jacques Burger’s last home game, and his final outing as a professional will be away to the Warriors next weekend.
Round 21 results:
Exeter Chiefs 24 Wasps 3
Leicester Tigers 31 Worcester Warriors 17
Northampton Saints 15 Bath 14
Sale Sharks 11 Gloucester 12
London Irish 25 Harlequins 32
Saracens 23 Newcastle Falcons 14
Photo: Dan Mullan/Getty Images