Jacques Vermeulen scored a try to help the Exeter Chiefs claim a 26-15 victory over Gloucester and climb to the top of the English Premiership table.
– Exeter moved above the Northampton Saints into first place on the overall standings as they held out in the first half to beat Gloucester at Kingsholm. Vermeulen scored Exeter’s only try of the first half, muscling his way over against the run of play in the ninth minute. On the whole, the flank made 21 tackles and seven carries, winning a turnover and two lineouts. Lock Jannes Kirsten also started for the Chiefs and made 21 tackles himself, missing six. Gloucester, who dropped to sixth on the table, were captained by Franco Mostert, who made 24 carries with one clean break and a lineout steal. Hooker Franco Marais, lock Gerbrandt Grobler and flank Ruan Ackermann were also in action for Gloucester.
– The London Irish brought themselves into playoff contention by beating Harlequins 29-15 at The Stoop. The visitors came into the game trailing Harlequins by five points on the table, but are now four points from fourth place after a bonus-point win. Franco van der Merwe enjoyed a solid outing in the Irish second row, making 11 tackles and stealing three lineouts. Allan Dell played just over 15 minutes as a substitute after returning to the team from Six Nations duty with Scotland.
– Hanro Liebenberg and Jaco Taute both started as the Leicester Tigers continued their mission to climb up the table with a vital 18-9 win over Wasps. The win brought the 11th-placed Tigers to within two points of their opponents on the log. Nizaam Carr was at No 8 and made eight carries and five tackles, before being replaced in the 52nd minute.
– The Sale Sharks missed out on the opportunity to move above Northampton as they slumped to a 36-22 loss to relegated Saracens in London. It was Saracens’ 13th consecutive home win over the Sharks, who are third on the log with 26 points. Robert du Preez scored 12 points for the Sharks, including a try, two conversions and a penalty. His younger brother, Daniel, had an outstanding outing at No 8, scoring a try while making a massive 59 metres from 17 carries with three clean breaks and seven defenders beaten. Lock Jean-Luc du Preez, centre Rohan Janse van Rensburg and substitutes Coenie Oosthuizen and Akker van der Merwe also played in the match. Saracens had Vincent Koch in their starting lineup and the Bok tighthead made 10 tackles and 13 carries.
– Francois Louw was on the scoresheet to help Bath secure a narrow 22-21 victory over the Worcester Warriors. The former Springbok flank scored a try in the second half and made two turnovers before he was replaced in the 51st minute. Worcester had a host of South Africans in their starting lineup, including wing Scott van Breda, centre Francois Venter, scrumhalf Francois Hougaard, No 8 Cornell du Preez, tighthead prop Nic Schonert and Namibian-born lock Anton Bresler, with prop Richard Palframan coming on in the second half.
– The Northampton Saints surrendered their place at the top of the table after losing 20-14 to the Bristol Bears. Cobus Reinach was the only South African involved in the match. The Springbok and Northampton scrumhalf played 61 minutes and made 35 passes, six carries for 25m, beating two defenders.
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