Rugby

Exeter impressively boost top-four hopes as Saracens seal Gallagher Premiership semi-final spot

England winger Immanuel Feyi-Waboso scored two tries as Exeter kept their Gallagher Premiership play-off hopes alive with a superb 58-26 victory over Champions Cup semi-finalists Harlequins.

It was a big dent to Quins’ own top-four ambitions but a last-minute try by Louis Lynagh earned them a four-try bonus point that could yet prove crucial come 5pm next Saturday afternoon.

Exeter trailed 21-14 after 36 minutes but hit back in spectacular fashion with 44 unanswered points – before Lynagh’s late try – to leapfrog Harlequins into fifth place in the table.

They now travel to Leicester Tigers on the final day of the season sitting two points behind fourth-spot Sale, with Quins at home to Bristol the same day, and now that a five-point win over Leicester, combined with a Saracens victory over Sale, would see Chiefs into the play-offs. Meanwhile, Quins need to beat Bristol Bears on the final day and hope for help from elsewhere to sneak into the top four.

Elsewhere, Saracens secured an end-of-season play-off place thanks to Exeter’s win over Quins and their own 41-20 bonus-point victory over Bristol Bears in a compelling contest at Ashton Gate.

The visitors overcame an early 10-0 deficit and yellow cards for Maro Itoje and Ben Earl to run out convincing winners and all but end Bristol’s chances of progressing beyond the regular season.

Itoje scored two of their tries while Romiti Segun and Juan-Martin Gonzalez also dotted down, with man-of-the-match Elliot Daly converting two and kicking four penalties. Owen Farrell added a penalty and a conversion.

Joe Batley and Harry Thacker scored Bristol’s tries with AJ MacGinty kicking two penalties and a conversion. James Williams also added a conversion but it was Sarries’ day and they’re now in pole position to seal second spot, and a home semi-final, next weekend.

Leaders Northampton Saints secured a home semi-final with a 90-0 annihilation of an under-strength Gloucester, their record win in the competition.

Winger Ollie Sleightholme scored a hat-trick as the Saints ran in 14 tries in total against a Cherry and Whites side showing 12 changes to their European Challenge Cup semi-final win against Benetton last week.

Their lack of cohesion was ruthlessly exploited by the hosts, whose scoreline is only topped in Premiership history by the 106-12 victory Richmond racked up against Bedford in 1999.

Xural.com

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