Wasps can end their 12-year wait for a Premiership title after they beat Bristol Bears 47-24 to reach the final, but they will go up against an Exeter Chiefs side in the showpiece for a fifth straight season.

In the day's first semi-final, Bristol only managed to put five points on the board in the opening 40 minutes, though it was not as one-sided as Wasps' 23-5 lead suggested at the interval.

Wasps just happened to be utterly ruthless, seizing on the majority of Bristol's infringements and turning them into points, with tries from Malakai Fekitoa and Jack Willis added to by reliable kicking courtesy of Jimmy Gopperth.

A brilliant 15-minute spell from Wasps blew Bristol away in the second half and ended the match as a contest, as they claimed 24 points in a 15-minute flurry to seal a first final spot since 2017.

Exeter were their conquerors on that occasion and once again await Wasps after they crushed Bath 35-6 in the second semi-final.

Much like Wasps in the earlier game, Exeter were clinical and produced a thoroughly professional display – tries from Jonny Hill and Luke Cowan-Dickie put them in control in the first period, before the visitors were swept aside without registering a point in the second.

It will be Exeter's fifth final on the trot, though the only one they emerged victorious from was the 2017 showdown with Wasps – Saracens beat them in the other three.

Bristol Bears sealed a Premiership play-off place with a 36-7 drubbing of London Irish but Bath face an anxious wait to discover if they will feature in the semi-finals following a draw with Saracens. 

The postponement of Sale Sharks' clash with Worcester Warriors until Wednesday due to "a number" of positive coronavirus at the Lancashire club meant the play-off picture could not be finalised on Sunday. 

Bristol started the last round of fixtures outside the top four, but a demolition of the Exiles ensured they remain in the hunt for the title. 

Semi Radradra, Ben Earl, Harry Thacker and Will Capon crossed, while Bristol were also awarded a penalty try as they moved above Bath into third place. 

Bath's season will be over if Sale beat Worcester in midweek, although whether the game goes ahead depends on the results of COVID-19 testing, after relegated Saracens came back from 14 points down in the second half to draw 17-17 at Allianz Park.

Bath looked set to seal a place in the last four when Rhys Priestland put them 17-3 up early in the second half, following on tries from Beno Obano and former Sarries scrum-half Ben Spencer. 

The defending champions stormed back in their last game in the top flight, a penalty try and Tim Swinson's score - both converted by Manu Vunipola - rocking Bath. 

Wasps sealed second place, and a home semi-final, with a 46-5 rout of Exeter Chiefs - already assured of top spot - and Harlequins beat Leicester Tigers 32-26 in Chris Robshaw's farewell match. 

Gloucester were awarded a 20-0 bonus-point win over Northampton Saints, who had insufficient front-rowers to start the match with a number of their players self-isolating after playing against Sale.

Bath produced a stunning second-half comeback to beat Gloucester 31-20 in the Premiership.

Matt Banahan's try 17 minutes into the second half against his former club gave Gloucester a commanding 20-3 lead at The Recreation Ground.

But Bath, who had hoped to have 1,000 fans in attendance as part of a pilot scheme abandoned by the UK government on Tuesday, stormed back in unbelievable fashion, scoring 28 unanswered points.

Tom Dunn went over twice in the space of five minutes before Lewis Boyce gave Bath the lead and Ben Spencer crossed to secure a bonus point two minutes from time.

Bath move second with a game to play, in which they will face relegated Saracens. They are six points clear of fourth-placed Sale Sharks and fifth-placed Bristol Bears, though both have a game in hand, in the race for the top four.

Saracens thumped title favourites Exeter Chiefs 40-17 in the final Premiership match between the teams for at least a season.

With Saracens heading down to the Championship, punished for breaching salary-cap rules, they will hope to make a swift return and re-establish the rivalry with the Devonians.

A five-try performance from the home side secured the points on this occasion, yet both sides were significantly under-strength, with their focus firmly on next week's European Champions Cup quarter-finals.

Saracens, without suspended England captain Owen Farrell, turned up tries from Rotimi Segun, Dom Morris, Elliott Obatoyinbo, Jaco Venter and Cameron Boon.

Facundo Cordero, Will Witty and Dave Dennis replied for Exeter, whose six-match winning run since the league re-started came to an end.

Next Saturday sees holders Saracens go to Pro14 winners Leinster in the Champions Cup, followed a day later by Exeter's home test against Northampton Saints.

The race to join Exeter in the four-team play-offs intensified as the day ended with the sides in second to fifth position separated by just two points.

Sale Sharks fell from second to fourth place after losing 37-22 at home to Bath, for whom Rhys Priestland booted 17 points.

Bath's tries came from Ruaridh McConnochie, Jonathan Joseph and Ben Spencer, who crossed twice, as they nudged up to third in the table.

Wasps now sit second, after they picked apart Bristol 59-35, knocking the Bears down to fifth spot.

They had eight try-scorers in the bonus-point success, with Jack Willis, Josh Bassett, Tom Cruse, Will Rowlands, Zach Kibirige, Dan Robson, Tom Willis and Gabriel Oghre all going over, as well as a penalty try.

Lowly Leicester Tigers secured a 28-24 win over Northampton Saints, with Ben Youngs marking his 250th appearance for the club by bagging a fifth-minute try.

Worcester Warriors enjoyed a 40-25 win at Twickenham Stoop against fellow strugglers London Irish, with Francois Hougaard and Ollie Lawrence both scoring a pair of tries.

Alfie Barbeary scored a memorable hat-trick as Wasps destroyed Leicester Tigers to keep up their Premiership play-off bid.

Malakai Fekitoa and Tom West scored after Cameron Henderson had put Tigers ahead, giving Wasps a seven-point advantage at half-time at the Ricoh Arena.

The visitors, captained by Ellis Genge for the first time, came unstuck in the second half as they endured the biggest league defeat in their history.

Barbeary's treble came as Jacob Umaga, Sam Spink and Zach Kibirige also went over, while Leicester lost Ben Youngs and Guy Porter to the sin bin in an ill-disciplined display.

Wasps head coach Lee Blackett said of 19-year-old Barbeary, who was making his first Premiership start: "He's a big project and he's nowhere near the finished article.

"There are plenty of areas of his game he needs to keep working on. We're trying to manage him by picking him in the back row."

Wasps are fourth in the table, a point above Bath, who claimed a 40-15 win over Worcester Warriors thanks largely to 15 points from Josh Matavesi.

Leaders Exeter Chiefs made certain of their own play-off spot after downing Gloucester 35-22.

Joe Simmonds converted all five tries, including his brother Sam's, as the leaders made it seven wins in a row despite allowing Gloucester late scores through Matt Banahan and Josh Gray.

Sale Sharks moved into second with a 24-17 win over Saracens, who were without the banned Owen Farrell, while London Irish suffered an eighth straight defeat after surrendering a 15-10 half-time lead to lose 38-15 to Harlequins.

England captain Owen Farrell was sent off as Saracens were downed 28-18 by high-flying Wasps, while a limited crowd saw Harlequins well beaten by Bath at The Stoop.

Sarries named a stronger side on paper than Saturday's opponents at Allianz Park and the game was poised at 15-15 after tries from ex-Wasps star Elliot Daly and Sean Maitland, plus five points from Farrell's boot, were answered by five penalties from the classy Jimmy Gopperth.

But Farrell saw red after catching Charlie Atkinson in the face with his left shoulder just after the hour and Tom Willis powered over with 10 minutes to go, while Gopperth finished with 23 points on his 100th Wasps appearance.

Around 2,700 fans were in attendance for Quins' home clash with Bath as part of a test event as the United Kingdom aims to get spectators back at sporting events amid the coronavirus pandemic.

But having fans back did little to inspire Quins as Bath earned a 41-27 bonus-point win that moved them fifth, with Ruaridh McConnochie scoring in each half and Rhys Priestland kicking 21 points.

Sale Sharks regained second spot in the table as Manu Tuilagi scored against his former club Leicester Tigers in a 40-31 triumph at Welford Road.

There were seven tries in total in a high-scoring game, in which AJ MacGinty, Jono Ross and Denny Solomona also registered for Sale.

Rounding out the action, Gloucester picked up a bonus point with a 36-23 victory over London Irish.

Injury-hit Wasps produced a storming fightback to leapfrog Bath and go fourth in the Premiership table with a 27-23 victory after Saracens put London Irish to the sword on Monday.

Wasps lost four players - including both hookers - to injury in the first half and trailed 13-0 at The Rec following an early Ruaridh McConnochie try and eight points from the boot of Rhys Priestland.

Thomas Young, Lima Sopoaga, Tommy Taylor and Gabriel Oghre were all forced off for unfortunate Wasps, but Jacob Umaga went under the posts following a clever dummy from Dan Robson and converted his try.

Umaga levelled with a penalty late in the first half and although Priestland kicked Bath back in front after the break, Tom West touched down and a penalty try won it for Wasps after Jack Walker crossed at the other end.

Relegated Saracens extended their winning run to three matches with a 40-12 rout of the Exiles at Twickenham Stoop.

England hooker Jamie George and prop Richard Barrington grabbed doubles, while Brad Barritt and Billy Vunipola also crossed for the Premiership and European champions, with Manu Vunipola successfully converting on five occasions.

Mark McCall's side are looking ominous ahead of a European Champions Cup quarter-final showdown with Leinster in Dublin on September 19.

Bath climbed up to fourth in the Premiership table after beating Northampton Saints for their third successive win since the season restarted.

The score was 3-3 at the interval but second-half tries from Tom de Glanville and Ruaridh McConnochie earned Bath an 18-3 victory.

While Bath's winning run continued, Worcester Warriors tasted victory for the first time in 2020, beating Harlequins 29-14.

Worcester scored four tries, while Duncan Weir added three conversions and a penalty, to boost the Warriors' morale and end an eight-game losing streak ahead of a clash with top-of-the-table Exeter Chiefs.

Tom Woolstencroft scored a hat-trick for already-relegated Saracens in their 36-20 triumph over Gloucester, while England's George Ford kicked eight points and David Williams went in for a first-half try in Leicester Tigers' narrow 13-7 success over London Irish.

Saracens dealt a blow to Harlequins' hopes of securing a top-four spot with a 38-24 derby victory, while there were also convincing Premiership wins for Northampton Saints and Bath on Saturday.

Relegated Sarries were beaten at Bristol Bears in their first game since the season resumed, but they had a happy homecoming at Allianz Park in Owen Farrell's 200th game for the European champions.

Sean Maitland's early try set them on their way before Maro Itoje and Aled Davies crossed, with a Marcus Smith drop goal all Quins could register in a first half that ended with Mark McCall's side 22-3 up.

Paul Lasike crossed twice either side of a Scott Steele try as Quins put up a fight after the break, but Alex Lewington went over at the other end and Farrell booted 18 points in a comfortable win for the defending champions.

Northampton moved just a point behind fourth-placed Sale Sharks with a 27-3 defeat of London Irish at Twickenham Stoop.

A penalty for each side was the only scoring of the first half, but the Saints ran away with it after the interval, Tom Collins and Ahsee Tuala dotting down before they were awarded two penalty tries.

Bath later moved level on points with the Saints by dishing out a 38-16 thumping to sorry Leicester Tigers at Welford Road, scoring four of their six tries in the first half.

Exeter Chiefs went eight points clear at the top of the Premiership with a 26-13 bonus-point win over Leicester Tigers and Bristol Bears beat Saracens to move into second spot on Saturday.

Sale Sharks' defeat to Harlequins on Friday in the first match in the competition for five months due to the coronavirus crisis gave the Chiefs the chance to increase their lead at the summit.

Rob Baxter's men grasped that opportunity at Sandy Park, Dave Ewers and Stuart Hogg scoring first-half tries to give the leaders a 10-6 lead at the break after a George Ford drop-goal and penalty put the Tigers 6-0 up.

Luke Cowan-Dickie went over early in the second half before Exeter were awarded a penalty try, with the Tigers unable to mount an unlikely fightback after earning a penalty try of their own.

Ambitious Bristol left it late to see off already-relegated defending champions Saracens 16-12 at Ashton Gate.

A fourth Alex Goode penalty following three from Callum Sheedy gave Sarries the edge, but Bristol - who handed debuts to Semi Radradra and Kyle Sinckler - won it with a penalty try, which also resulted in Jamie George being sin-binned.

New signing Ben Spencer was among the Bath try-scorers and Tom Dunn grabbed a double in a 34-17 win over London Irish.

Jonny May's second Gloucester debut was cut short by a dangerous tackle from Melani Nanai, who was shown a red card midway through the first half and could only watch the Cherry and Whites cruise to a 44-15 victory in their first game with a revamped coaching staff.

Neal Hatley has been appointed head coach of Bath ahead of the resumption of the Premiership season.

Hatley returned to Bath last year after three and a half years working under Eddie Jones as England scrum coach.

He initially took the role of forwards and defence coach, but his promotion was confirmed on Thursday.

Hatley said: "When I rejoined Bath, Stuart [director of rugby Hooper] was very clear about what we are trying to do at the club. Now as head coach at Bath, I'm responsible for field performance.

"With my focus on delivering great performances on the pitch, it allows Stuart to focus on how we want to play and perform, making sure we are doing what we discussed in training and optimising everything we do.

"As head coach, I want to make sure I get the best out of our players and that's a lot about building relationships, knowing they trust your leadership. I've set out very clearly how I expect our players to behave, how I expect them to train and how we expect to treat each other.

"Not only is Bath an incredible city to live in but it's a rugby city through and through. I feel incredibly proud to be head coach at this club and believe me, we want to win silverware."

Hooper said: "We're thrilled to confirm Neal as head coach. The director of rugby and head coach set-up has always been the route I want to follow. I believe it's the right way to get the best out of our people.

"Bringing Neal back into our environment was about reconnecting, finding out how I can complement him, how he can complement me and how we can deliver the best programme here at the club."

Bath face London Irish at the Rec on Saturday in their first match since the season was suspended in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Bath captain Charlie Ewels has slammed reports suggesting the club's players revolted after being asked to take a pay cut due to financial pressures caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Earlier this week, chief executive Tarquin McDonald announced Bath had asked players and staff to take a 25 per cent cut, with several other Premiership sides taking similar measures.

Sunday's edition of The Rugby Paper suggested Bath players were planning to reject the request, something England lock Ewels rejected.

"You might have seen the front page of The Rugby Paper today and if you did, given what we are all experiencing at this time, it would be fair if you felt a sense of disbelief or even disgrace at the headline which reads 'Bath stars revolt over pay cuts'," Ewels wrote in an open letter to Bath supporters.

"As captain of our club, I can categorically say that these reports are not true, and as a playing group, we are not in revolt against our club. In fact, it's quite the opposite, we wish to work with the club through this extremely challenging time so we can get back to where we all want to be, playing rugby at the Rec again.  

"Everyone at Bath Rugby is committed to working through this together, and the players within the squad that I am fortunate enough to serve as captain are no different. We play rugby for a living and we understand that if we are not playing games, then there is no money coming in. It is a difficult time for everyone at the club, however, we are all on this journey together.

"We as players understand everything happening across the globe is having a huge impact, and that impact is reaching far beyond us. I can say that I 100 per cent support the principle of the pay cuts, as do the majority of players at the club, believing they are what is right to guide the club through this tough period.

"Like players at all other clubs, we have been guided by the advice of our union the RPA during this hugely uncertain time. We are seeking answers to some specific questions regarding players on lower salaries and players coming to the end of their contracts.

"However, we are discussing these questions openly and transparently with Stuart [Hooper, director of rugby] and Tarquin and I know we will find the right answers in due course. We will do what is right for the future of our people, our club and our game." 

Rugby World Cup winner Francois Louw has announced he will retire at the end of the season following a nine-season spell with Bath.

Louw has enjoyed an illustrious career that has seen him represent Western Province, the Stormers and Bath at club level, while also earning 76 international caps for South Africa.

The 34-year-old brought down the curtain on his Springboks career in November on the back of their World Cup triumph in Japan and is now to call time on his club career.

Louw has made 134 starts in 140 appearances for Bath and told his club's official website: "Bath is a city that we call home now.

"My family and I have settled here, and representing the club so many times has been one of the many highlights of my career.

 

"While this has been an incredibly tough decision to make, the time does feel right to face a new challenge. 

"Right now, however, my focus is with Bath, and I will give everything to the club as our sights are set on making the play-offs and winning further silverware."

Bath's director of rugby Stuart Hooper led the tributes to Louw, who has qualified as a financial advisor ahead of a second career.

"The contribution he has made to our club cannot be overstated," Hooper said.

"I have had the privilege of being by his side as a player and working with him now as director of rugby, and his experience, commitment and world class skill has been a mainstay of Bath for nine seasons. 

"He gives absolutely everything, every single time he pulls on the Bath colours - whether on the training ground or on matchday - and we cannot ever ask for more than that."

Sam Simmonds and Olly Woodburn scored doubles as Exeter Chiefs ran in eight tries to obliterate Bath 57-20, sealing their return to the top of the Premiership.

Sale moved into first place on points difference with their emphatic win over London Irish on Friday, but Exeter swiftly returned to the summit with a dominant performance of their own.

They were 36-3 up when number eight Simmonds' second try one minute into the second half was successfully converted.

Bath then touched down three times to make the scoreline more respectable but could not avoid defeat, with Woodburn and Jack Maunder increasing Exeter's margin of victory in the closing stages.

Elsewhere on Saturday, a Saracens team that included Mako Vunipola earned a 24-13 home win over struggling Leicester Tigers thanks to two Alex Lewington tries.

Controversy has surrounded Vunipola, who was stood down by England for their Six Nations match against Wales after returning from Tonga via Hong Kong amid coronavirus fears, even though he has not displayed symptoms.

Ben White ran in Leicester's only try of the match in the second half to put his side ahead, but the momentum changed when Dominic Morris crossed for Sarries just after the visitors had Telusa Veainu sent to the sin bin for a deliberate knock-on.

Wasps claimed a third straight win under Lee Blackett to move above Bath and up to fifth place as they saw off Gloucester at the Ricoh Arena.

The hosts triumphed 39-22, having scored 22 unanswered points in the first 30 minutes. Gloucester have now suffered six consecutive defeats across all competitions.

In-form Bristol Bears moved up to third in the Premiership with a 19-13 West Country derby win at Bath and Wasps ended London Irish's winning run on Sunday.

Bath and Bristol started the showdown at a packed Rec on the back of three consecutive victories, but it was Pat Lam's side who remained on a roll to move above Northampton Saints.

Chris Vui reached out to score the opening try just five minutes in and Callum Sheedy produced a moment of magic to set up a second Bristol five-pointer, picking out Alapati Leiua with a pinpoint cross-field kick after creating space with a clever show-and-go.

A second Rhys Priestland penalty just before half-time reduced the deficit to six points, but Harry Randall's try gave Bristol breathing space - Sheedy converting for a second time.

Priestland fed Will Chudley for Bath's only try 15 minutes from time soon after he replaced debutant Rhys Webb, but Bristol hung on to keep their rivals below them in fifth spot and complete a double after hammering them on the opening day.

Wasps are up to sixth after beating the Exiles 36-26 at the Madejski Stadium.

Irish had won three in a row, but Jacob Umaga was among five Wasps try-scorers in an entertaining victory on the road.

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