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.

Harlequins booked a top eight Premiership finish and a European Champions Cup spot with a 28-15 win over Gloucester.

In front of a 1,000-strong crowd at Kinghsolm - just the second game Premiership fans have been allowed to watch since the resumption of action last month - the hosts started sluggishly. 

Marcus Smith plundered three penalties in the opening 10 minutes before Cadan Murley raced away from Stephen Varney for Quins' first try.

Gloucester were punished for a number of squandered chances when Stephan Lewies intercepted a pass on the halfway line and powered forward for the visitors' second try. 

Gloucester improved after the break, reducing the deficit through Jake Polledri's try but Quins restored their advantage when Scott Steele pounced from close range. 

Matias Alemanno went over on his Gloucester debut but it was too little, too late for Gloucester, who need two more points from their remaining two games to guarantee eighth place.

 

 

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.

Sam Simmonds and Jonny Hill scored hat-tricks as Premiership leaders Exeter Chiefs routed Worcester 59-7 to go 14 points clear at the top.

The home team were at their formidable best, with Worcester's consolation try from Ashley Beck the last score of the game.

By half-time the lead was up to 38-0, with second-row forward Hill having already completed a hat-trick and Simmonds dotting down twice.

Jack Nowell also got in on the act before the break, and the rampant scoring continued beyond the interval, with Stuart Hogg, Jacques Vermeulen and Simmonds going over.

Joe Simmonds almost matched his brother's 15-point haul, falling one short as he booted seven conversions.

At Kingsholm, Ollie Thorley went one better than the hat-trick feats of Simmonds and Hill, plundering four tries in the opening 30 minutes of Gloucester's 46-30 win over Leicester Tigers.

The 23-year-old winger did his England prospects no harm, having already caught the eye of Eddie Jones, by showing a clinical finisher's touch.

Joe Simpson, Chris Harris and Lloyd Evans also crossed for Gloucester, with tries from Harry Potter, Jordan Taufua and Cameron Henderson leading a forlorn Tigers fightback after the home team's early onslaught.

Chris Robshaw and Chris Ashton were among the home team's scorers as Harlequins beat Northampton Saints 30-17 at Twickenham Stoop, in a mid-table battle.

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.

Exeter Chiefs produced a second-half surge as the Premiership leaders claimed a 32-22 win at Sale Sharks.

The Chiefs trailed 14-10 at the break at AJ Bell Stadium on Friday but ran in three second-half tries to claim a bonus-point victory.

Jacques Vermeulen, Stuart Hogg and Luke Cowan-Dickie all crossed as they maintained an eight-point lead over Bristol Bears.

Second-placed Bristol earned a 33-24 derby triumph over Gloucester, scoring 26 of their points in the first half.

The Bears had three tries in 17 minutes through Max Malins, Henry Purdy and Harry Thacker, with the clinical Semi Radradra's try sandwiched by efforts from Fraser Balmain and Chris Harris for Gloucester.

Billy Twelvetrees' penalty shortly after the second-half restart narrowed the gap to nine points but loan signing Ben Earl crossed for Bristol's fifth try to render Stephen Varney's score nine minutes from time a mere consolation.

Wasps leapfrogged Sale into third place as they scored 19 second-half points to overturn a 17-13 half-time deficit and defeat Worcester Warriors 32-17.

The boot of Rob Miller kept Wasps in touch in the opening 40 minutes and Gabriel Oghre, Alfie Barbeary Tom Cruse went over in a dominant second period.

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.

Stade Francais have signed Telusa Veainu from Leicester Tigers, as well as Gloucester's Gerbrandt Grobler. 

Veainu, who can operate on the wing or at full-back, has agreed a three-year deal with the Top 14 heavyweights as Leicester cut costs due to the coronavirus crisis. 

South African lock Grobler will join Veainu in Paris, signing on for two seasons with the option for a third. 

Tigers director of rugby Geordan Murphy spoke of his disappointment that Tongan Veainu has left Welford Road after almost five seasons at the Premiership club. 

"Murphy said: "We thank Telusa for all that he has given to Leicester Tigers during his time with us. 

"The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has not been lost on anyone and, while we hoped to see Telusa play out the remaining one-and-a-half seasons of his contract with us at Tigers, we appreciate the varying individual circumstances of all our players and wish him, his partner and child well in their next chapter in Paris." 

England centre Manu Tuilagi also left the Tigers last week after failing to agree terms. 

Gloucester have announced head coach Johan Ackermann is leaving the Premiership club to take up a job in Japan.

The South African was in his third season in charge at Kingsholm; he led them to the European Challenge Cup final in his first year, followed by successive campaigns in the Champions Cup.

However, he will not be at the helm if the 2019-20 season - currently suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic - is to be completed.

Ackermann is moving on to NTT Docomo Red Hurricanes, though admitted he will "cherish the memories" made during his stint with the Cherry and Whites.

"Being head coach of Gloucester has been a tremendous privilege for me, and I have loved every minute of it," Ackermann said in a statement from Gloucester. 

"Working with such a fantastic group of players and coaches has been a great experience.

"I would especially like to thank [Gloucester chairman] Martin [St Quinton] for the faith that he has shown in me. His support and friendship have meant a lot to me.

"Gloucester rugby fans are a truly unique group, and I will always cherish the memories I have of being at Kingsholm. I wish the club nothing but the best."

South African centre Rohan Janse van Rensburg has been fined £32,500 and handed a two-week ban after he was found to have signed contracts with both Sale Sharks and Gloucester.

Van Rensburg was a Lions player when he had a loan spell with Sale in the 2017-18 season, at which point he had already privately agreed to join Gloucester from November 2018.

However, on January 11, 2018 Van Rensburg signed a contract with Sale to play for the Sharks from July 1 of that year, clinching a lucrative three-year deal.

Evidence seen by a Rugby Football Union (RFU) disciplinary panel shows Van Rensburg later sent a WhatsApp message to Gloucester coach Johan Ackermann, in which the player suggests he had "messed up", believing a conversation they had at the turn of the year meant his Gloucester agreement could be broken.

"After we spoke, you said to me not to feel obliged to sign for Gloucester," Van Rensburg wrote. "Sale offered me a deal which I have agreed to. I am very stressed out over this."

Van Rensburg added in his message: "I'm really sorry and disappointed in myself. Their deal was at the time a lot better than Gloucester's deal which made it very attractive to me."

Sale withdrew their initial contract offer to Van Rensburg before he signed again with the Sharks in June 2018.

The RFU said £25,000 of the fine issued to Van Rensburg would be paid to Gloucester, who gave the player that sum when he agreed to join the Premiership club. The dates of his suspension will be announced when rugby, which is on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic, is able to continue.

Van Rensburg's representative Matthew Ginvert was reprimanded, fined £3,750 and told to undertake an agent's education programme. There was no evidence of him knowing about the existence of the Gloucester contract.

Sale received a £20,000 fine and a suspended five-point deduction.

Because of COVID-19, the RFU said the disciplinary case was held using video conferencing.

England wing Jonny May will leave Leicester Tigers and return to Gloucester at the end of the Premiership season.

The 30-year-old joined Leicester in 2017 having previously spent eight years at Gloucester, with whom he came through the academy.

May, who has 56 Test caps, will move back to his former club once the 2019-20 season, currently on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic, concludes.

The prolific May has scored 30 tries in 44 appearances for the Tigers, although the club sit second-bottom of the table, with only Saracens – who have a points deduction – below them. 

"I'm proud of my time at Leicester Tigers," May said as the team announced his move on Saturday.

"What an amazing experience to have played for such a great club. It really has developed my game and it's brought the best out in me as a player. I gave 100 per cent every time I put the shirt on and I have no regrets.

"For numerous reasons it hasn't worked out for me to stay on at Leicester Tigers, which is a shame.

"It's been a challenging few years but I have made some great mates and worked with some brilliant people.

"I hope that everyone is staying safe and healthy in this tough period and also really hope that things start improving and I get the opportunity to play for Leicester Tigers, with my mates, a few more times before I leave.

"Thank you to everyone at Leicester Tigers, especially the fans, I'm sorry we haven't given you what you have wanted the last few seasons but I'm very optimistic about the future for Leicester Tigers."

On returning to Gloucester, who sit ninth in the table, May added: "Once I had made the decision to leave Leicester there was only ever one club I really wanted to play for. 

"I'm grateful to [director of rugby] David Humphreys and everyone at Gloucester Rugby who have found a way for me to rejoin. I'm very excited about being back in Cherry and White playing at Kingsholm again."

Players from Wasps, Worcester Warriors and Gloucester have taken a 25 per cent pay cut due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The Premiership season was suspended on Monday for five weeks due to COVID-19.

With a loss of revenue as a result of no games being played, Wasps have lowered wages by a quarter from April 1 until Premiership action resumes, though a number of lower paid staff will be excluded from the reductions.

"I spoke with [head coach] Lee Blackett and senior members of the playing squad last night, and we then communicated this message to the wider team and colleagues," Wasps CEO Stephen Vaughan said in an open letter to fans, partners, staff and the community.

"I could not be more proud of their response, understanding and determination to help the club in such testing times. The same is true of the players' efforts to support our wider community stay connected and keep talking, which I am sure you will be aware of."

Worcester have lowered wages by the same margin, also effective from the start of next month. The cut will not apply to staff below a certain salary threshold, though.

"We have offered as much support as we can to any member of staff who may suffer particular hardship as a consequence," the Warriors added in a statement on the club's website.

Gloucester confirmed they have taken the move amid the global pandemic to help them through "this incredibly challenging time".

Meanwhile, the Rugby Football Union on Friday confirmed the season is over for all levels below the Premiership.

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.

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