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.

Wasps produced a late fightback to beat Harlequins 32-23 after Elia Elia was sent off in Chris Robshaw's Stoop farewell on Monday.

Former England captain Robshaw's last home game for Quins before he moves to Major League Rugby side San Diego Legion looked set to end in a victory, but Wasps turned it around to boost their chances of securing a Premiership semi-final spot.

Alex Dombrandt scored a double to give Quins a 15-8 half-time lead after a Tom Willis try put Wasps in front with 12 minutes gone in London.

Marcus Smith crossed early in the second half, having booted five points in the first, but Quins were a man down when Elia saw red for a tip tackle on Dan Robson 54 minutes in.

Gabriel Oghre crossed soon after for Wasps, but Smith's penalty gave the home side an eight-point advantage midway through the second half.

Wasps capitalised on their numerical advantage to win it late on, though, Thomas Young and Jack Willis crossing and Jimmy Gopperth taking his tally with the boot to 12 points as Lee Blackett's side moved level with second-placed Bath with one game of the regular season to play against Exeter Chiefs.

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.

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.

Harlequins and former England back-row Jack Clifford has been forced to retire due to a shoulder injury aged just 27.

Clifford suffered a dislocation in his 100th game for Quins against London Irish last September and has since undergone two major operations.

The flanker, who earned 10 England caps and was billed as a potential great, on Wednesday announced his playing days are over.

He said: "I am absolutely gutted to be have to call time on my career at a relatively early stage.

"I have been at Quins since I was 13 years old and made so many good friends here. It has been an absolute pleasure training and playing with the lads each week and I will miss this environment greatly.

"I feel proud to have reached 100 appearances for Quins and it is ironic that the injury was sustained in my 100th game."

Clifford captained his country at Under-18 and U20 level, leading England to victory at the Junior World Championship in 2013.

He made his senior England debut in a Six Nations victory against Scotland at Murrayfield in February 2016 and would surely have won many more caps but for such misfortune with injuries.

Quins head of rugby Paul Gustard said: "It is with sadness that Jackman has been forced to retire from the game prematurely after another serious injury.

"I have been a huge fan of Jack from my days as an opposition coach and was delighted to be part of an England staff who awarded him his first of 10 England caps.
 
"He was a player who had the ability to change a game with his explosive pace and offloading skills which, allied to his high work rate, meant he was an important player for us last season when he was a mainstay of the side who finished fifth."

Marcus Smith was sharp off the kicking tee as Harlequins beat Sale Sharks 16-10 on the return from lockdown of the Premiership.

The 21-year-old fly-half was impressive in all aspects but it was his three first-half penalties and the extras he added to Scott Baldwin's try that made the scoreboard difference at the Twickenham Stoop.

More than five months had passed since the last fixture in English rugby union's top flight before this game, but the 2019-20 season has finally resumed.

Harlequins, beaten last time out at Bristol, returned strongly and had too much for a second-placed Sale side who thumped London Irish 39-0 in their final game before the coronavirus-enforced lockdown halted the sport.

On this occasion, Sale grabbed the first try when Byron McGuigan broke through early in the second half, but Smith's penalties meant they still trailed.

Baldwin then took almost immediate advantage of Sale going down to 14 men after the sin-binning of Simon Hammersley to reassert the home team's command.

His try came after 56 minutes and swelled Harlequins' lead to 16-7, which was trimmed by an AJ MacGinty penalty with 10 minutes remaining but thereafter remained intact.

England prop Joe Marler has signed a new long-term contract with Premiership club Harlequins.

The 29-year-old has made over 200 appearances for Quins since making his debut in 2009 and there should be many more to come.

One-club man Marler has earned 71 England caps and toured New Zealand with the British and Irish Lions three years ago after making his presence felt at The Stoop before he was a teenager.

Marler said: "I am a Harlequin, and I love the club. Growing up with Harlequins as my boyhood team.

"I remember getting thrown out of The Stoop as a fan when I was 12 because I had tried to run on the pitch. Now I get the chance to continue my journey with great friends, team-mates, coaches, and fans, without getting thrown out... yet!

"I'm immensely proud to have played for Quins over 200 times so far, I even managed to convince one of the previous bosses [Conor O'Shea] to make me captain once. 

"Even more so during this [coronavirus] pandemic affecting every single one of us, I cannot wait for my next opportunity to pull on the jersey, run out at The Stoop and welcome back the Quins family."

News of Marler's new deal on Friday came after it was announced that the Premiership Rugby are planning for the season to resume on August 15, five months after it was suspended due to the COVID-19 crisis.

Marler was banned for 10 weeks for grabbing Alun Wyn Jones' genitals during England's Six Nations win over Wales in March, but that suspension has now been wiped as a result of the hiatus.

Luke Morahan scored two tries as Bristol Bears made it five straight wins in the Premiership by overcoming Harlequins 28-15 at Ashton Gate.

Quins shocked leaders Exeter Chiefs at Sandy Gate last weekend but found themselves behind in the opening minute on Sunday when Morahan stormed clear on the right.

Aaron Morris reduced the arrears but Morahan touched down for the second time and Chris Vui went over to help establish a 25-8 lead at the break.

Marcus Smith converted Gabriel Ibitoye's 72nd-minute score but Quins were unable to make a late charge for victory, with Alex Dombrandt seeing a try ruled out for a forward pass in the build-up.

Harlequins have signed Chris Ashton two days after his departure from Premiership rivals Sale Sharks.

The prolific winger, who has scored 20 tries in 44 Tests for England, left Sale on Monday due to what director of rugby Steve Diamond described as "a difference of opinion" with him and his coaching staff.

Ashton has not had long to wait for a new club, with Quins confirming his arrival at The Stoop on Wednesday.

The 32-year-old, who is the Premiership's third-highest try-scorer with 86, links up with former England team-mates Danny Care, Joe Marler and Mike Brown.

"I can't wait to get started at Quins. It is a club filled with incredibly experienced and talented players," Ashton said.

"When I spoke to Gussy [Quins head of rugby Paul Gustard] and heard more about the direction the club is going in, and what it means to be a Harlequin, I knew that this was the right move for me.

"I know lots of the lads at Quins, like Danny, through our England careers and years of friendship. I like the look of what Quins are doing, they are growing a strong squad and the foundations for future success are in place.

"I know that I have still got a lot to give on the pitch and I am confident that being at Quins will enable me to continue scoring tries and help me with my aspirations of reaching 100 Premiership tries, beating the current record [Tom Varndell's tally of 92]."

Gustard revealed the London club wanted to sign former Saracens flyer Ashton before he agreed to join Sale from Toulon.

"We were very interested in Chris when he was looking to move back to the UK, but unfortunately we were not in a position to compete 28 months ago," he said.

"However, circumstances change and timings can sometimes work in mysterious ways, meaning we were able to get our man. We have four of our senior back three players currently unavailable with injury and therefore to bring Chris to the club is a big boost to the squad."

Booth lands Ospreys job

February 25, 2020

Toby Booth will take over as head coach of the Ospreys at the end of the season.

Booth was appointed assistant to Harlequins boss Paul Gustard last November and will remain with the Premiership club until the conclusion of the current campaign.

The former London Irish director of rugby will then start work with Pro14 outfit the Ospreys, who have been without a permanent head coach since Allen Clarke's departure late last year, with Matt Sherratt and Carl Hogg in temporary charge.

Booth said: "When the opportunity was presented to join such an iconic Welsh team, based in an area that has a deep passion for the game, it made it an extremely attractive proposition.

"The Ospreys is a side full of rich talent and international experience. It is an ambitious group and has good potential to improve.  

"Having developed players throughout my career, I look forward to adding value to this squad of players and developing their performances on the pitch.

"This rich rugby region has always produced young talent. The ability to help players reach their potential was a contributing factor in wanting this role.  

"A team that has high numbers of home-grown talent is exciting for coaches and supporters. It helps achieve greater levels of consistency in effort as they are emotionally connected to the team."

Booth will be charged with turning around the fortunes of a side that are bottom of Conference A with just two Pro14 wins this season.

Curtis Rona scored a pair of tries as London Irish secured a 29-15 derby win at Harlequins, while Premiership high-flyers Sale Sharks were brought back down to earth by beleaguered Saracens.

Irish stunned title contenders Northampton Saints last time out and followed that up with a convincing bonus-point victory at The Stoop on Saturday.

Rona laid on the opening try for Matt Rogerson in treacherous conditions and the all-action wing grabbed his first of the afternoon after brilliant work from Ben Meehan.

A Marcus Smith penalty was Quins' only score of the first half and they were 17-3 down at the break after Stephen Myler was on the target from the tee at the other end, having converted both tries.

Alex Dombrandt powered his way over to reduce the deficit, but Rona dotted down again and Ollie Hoskins bagged the bonus point after Cadan Murley helped himself to Quins' second try in west London.

Sale missed the chance to move ahead of Northampton into second spot, going down 36-22 to champions Saracens at Allianz Park after beating leaders Exeter Chiefs in their previous match.

Rhys Carre, Rotimi Segun, Nick Isiekwe and Richard Barrington touched down for Saracens, while fit-again full-back Alex Goode shone in his first Premiership match of the season.

Wasps were beaten 18-9 by fellow strugglers Leicester Tigers at the end of a week that saw director of rugby Dai Young step back from first-team duties, while Bath edged out Worcester Warriors 22-21.

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