Exeter Chiefs will face Toulouse in the European Champions Cup semi-finals after overcoming fellow Premiership side Northampton Saints.

The Chiefs reached the last four of the Champions Cup for the first time in their history thanks to a 38-15 triumph at Sandy Park on Sunday.

It was a scoreline that did not reflect how close the encounter was at one stage, with Northampton – who went ahead through Dan Biggar's early penalty – only four points behind at half-time.

However, second-half tries from Jack Nowell, Jonny Hill and Jacques Vermeulen, who also went over in the first half, put Exeter out of sight.

Sandy Park will be the venue for Exeter's semi-final on Saturday, as they take on Toulouse, who comfortably dispatched Ulster 36-8 at Stade Ernest Wallon.

Cheslin Kolbe was the star, with the South Africa wing scoring twice in a dominant display.

Kolbe grabbed both of his tries during the first half, with Antoine Dupont, Pita Ahki and Thomas Ramos getting in on the act after the interval, before John Cooney got a late consolation for Ulster.

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.

Bristol Bears romped to a 47-10 Premiership win at home to Northampton Saints thanks to four tries in the space of 10 second-half minutes on Tuesday.

The hosts climbed back up to second in the Premiership with a comfortable victory, their second in a row after consecutive defeats last month.

Bristol earned a 21-3 half-time lead after a rush of early scores through Harry Thacker, Alapati Leiua and Andy Uren at Ashton Gate.

Northampton responded with Josh Gillespie crossing just before the hour-mark, but another flurry saw the Bears in complete control.

Luke Morahan followed Chris Vui, Ben Earl and Piers O'Conor over the try line in a big home win.

Premiership leaders Exeter Chiefs extended their winning run to six matches on Friday, while Bristol Bears climbed to second.

Exeter are comfortably clear at the top of the table and have won every game they have played since the season restarted last month.

They were made to work for this latest triumph, though, edging past Northampton Saints 22-19.

The Chiefs made a fast start with tries from Sean Lonsdale and Jannes Kirsten in the first 12 minutes but trailed heading into the closing stages.

David Ribbans' double either side of a Henry Taylor score had Northampton in front, only for Tom O'Flaherty to force his way over and clinch the points.

Bristol were rather more comfortable in their 36-13 win over Worcester Warriors, their first at Sixways for more than 14 years.

A four-try second-half display eased the Bears to a big victory, which saw Worcester finish with 14 men after Andrew Kitchener was sent off for a punch in a last-minute melee.

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.

Wasps hit the ground running as they resumed their Premiership campaign with a 34-21 bonus-point win over Northampton Saints.

Following a five-month coronavirus-enforced break from action, Lee Blackett's side were quickly back into the groove at Franklin's Gardens on Sunday.

Josh Bassett touched down twice in a fine showing as the visitors moved above their hosts in the table.

Northampton were 14-6 down at the break after Bassett and Jack Willis had crossed, but the Saints threatened a second-half comeback when Alex Mitchell grabbed a try and Dan Biggar nailed the conversion to add to his two first-half penalties.

Ben Harris' converted score and a Lima Sopoaga penalty put Blackett's men firmly in the driving seat, with David Ribbans' try doing little to unsettle them.

Indeed, Wasps hit back by adding 10 more points, with Biggar's boot responsible for five of them and Bassett sealing the bonus point with his second try as they climbed to fourth.

Montpellier have confirmed the signing of South Africa scrum-half Cobus Reinach on a three-year deal.

The 2019 Rugby World Cup winner was reported to be bound for France when he announced he would leave Northampton Saints at the end of this season back in January.

With the Premiership not resuming until August at the earliest due to the coronavirus pandemic and Reinach's contract expiring at the end of June, the 30-year-old has played his last game for Saints.

Montpellier on Friday announced that Reinach will showcase his talents in the Top 14.

"Cobus is a world champion, with outstanding athletic qualities," said Montpellier coach Xavier Garbajosa.

"He is very skilled, both in kicking and passing."

Reinach, who spent three years with Northampton, has been capped 14 times by the Springboks and made two appearances in their World Cup triumph in Japan last year.

Clubs from English rugby's Premiership have been told they cannot start training for at least two weeks, dealing a blow to hopes of a resumption in July.

Last month it was suggested Premiership clubs were working towards a best-case scenario of the league returning on the weekend of July 3-5 and playing midweek games with the hopes of an August 15 final.

However, Leicester Tigers head coach Geordan Murphy – who will step up to director of rugby in July – suggested teams will first need eight weeks to train.

With the Professional Game Board (PGB) agreeing more time is needed before sessions can safely begin, it appears August is the earliest the season can continue.

Chris Booy, chair of the PGB, said: "A meeting of the Professional Game Board was held which incorporates representatives of the Rugby Football Union, Premiership Rugby, Rugby Players Association and Championship clubs.

"The group agreed that, although a huge amount of work is being undertaken to enable a safe return to training for Premiership clubs, more time was needed to ensure that players, staff and officials can return to a safe training environment, and that is not expected to be in place for a minimum of two weeks.

"Safety and welfare remains of paramount importance to all of us in the rugby community, and we look forward to the season resuming when it is safe to do so.

"Further updates on progress will be made in due course."

The Premiership has been suspended for five weeks and the quarter-finals of the European Champions Cup and Challenge Cup have been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Premiership Rugby's decision followed new guidance from the United Kingdom government on Monday.

British prime minister Boris Johnson encouraged people to avoid mass gatherings and all "non-essential" travel and contact with others.

"The safety of our fans, players and staff is our first priority, and we would like to wish all of those who are affected our heartfelt best wishes and a very speedy recovery," a Premiership Rugby statement read.

"We'll continue to work closely with DCMS [the Departure for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport] and Public Health England, and to follow the advice of medical experts, and work with our clubs to help them to support their own wider communities at this time."

The decision to call off the European rugby season was taken during a conference call on Monday.

It means the matches in the Champions Cup and Challenge Cup scheduled for April 3, 4 and 5 will not now go ahead as planned, although organisers hope to rearrange the fixtures for later dates.

In a statement, the board of European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR) said: "While respecting all further directives by governments and local authorities, EPCR, in conjunction with the relevant leagues and unions, remains committed to trying to find a solution which will enable it to complete the 2019-20 Champions Cup and Challenge Cup tournaments at such a time as that aligns with preventative measures undertaken by an overwhelming majority of sport's governing bodies and tournament organisers in Europe.  

"EPCR's priority is the health and welfare of players and club staff, and an update regarding the knockout stages of the tournaments will be communicated to all stakeholders as soon as practicable."

Sale Sharks ran in six tries as they thrashed London Irish 39-0 to edge ahead of Exeter Chiefs at the top of the Premiership.

Sam James grabbed a double, scoring in each half, while Luke James, Rob Webber, Denny Solomona and Byron McGuigan piled on the five-pointers for Steve Diamond's team.

Webber's try came on his 100th appearance for the Sharks.

McGuigan dotted down a fine try at the death to put the seal on a highly successful outing for the home side, who climbed ahead of Exeter on points difference but have played an extra game.

Exeter will have the chance to re-establish themselves as front-runners when they host Bath on Saturday. London Irish remain eighth in the table.

Northampton Saints halted a four-match losing skid as they won 16-10 on the road against Worcester Warriors.

Mikey Haywood's 32nd-minute try and 11 points from the boot of James Grayson gave Northampton a welcome victory, with Ollie Lawrence notching a converted score for the hosts.

Northampton's win nudged them ahead of Bristol Bears and up to third in the table, five points behind the top two, while Worcester stay 10th, just ahead of second-bottom Leicester Tigers.

Northampton Saints' two-time Rugby World Cup winner Ben Franks will retire at the end of the season.

The Premiership high-flyers revealed on Tuesday that the 35-year-old prop will end his illustrious career at the conclusion of the campaign.

Franks, who was joined by his brother Owen at Franklin's Gardens last year, played 47 times for New Zealand and lifted the Webb Ellis Cup in 2011 and 2015.

He joined Northampton from London Irish in 2018 and has played 37 times for the Saints.

"I am proud to be a Saint and very grateful to have had the opportunity to finish my playing days here in Northampton," said Franks. "But the end of this season is the right time for me call time on my career.

"I've loved my journey in rugby; from playing back home in New Zealand, to representing the All Blacks alongside my brother, and then coming over here to experience the challenge of the English Premiership.

"I've also really enjoyed having the chance to run out with Owen again here at Franklin's Gardens, and I'll of course be following the club's progress in the coming years as he continues to play on in Northampton."

Franks made 130 Super Rugby appearances for the Crusaders and the Hurricanes before moving to England, winning the title in 2006 and 2008 with the Christchurch-based franchise.

Tom Hendrickson grabbed two tries as rampant Exeter beat Northampton 57-7 to pull eight points clear at the top of the Premiership.

Northampton arrived at Sandy Park with their hopes of being involved in a battle for first place possibly hinging on the outcome, and the thumping nature of their defeat was painful for Saints.

Hosts Exeter could not breach the try-line in the opening half-hour, having just a penalty from Joe Simmonds to show for their initial endeavours.

Jonny Hill, Elvis Taione and Jannes Kirsten then crossed in quick succession to put the Chiefs in charge by the break, building a 22-0 lead after taking advantage of a yellow card for Tom Collins.

Hendrickson went over twice in the second half, with Ben Moon, Tom O'Flaherty and Sam Simmonds taking the home side's try count to eight.

James Grayson dotted down a consolation for Northampton, who now sit fourth, nine points adrift of Exeter, with their points difference having taken a battering.

Bristol jumped above Northampton into third place after a 13-10 home win over Worcester.

Eight points from the boot of Callum Sheedy and a Luke Morahan try gave the Bears their narrow win.

Nick David's try early in the second half for Warriors, converted by Duncan Weir, and a penalty from Scott van Breda kept it tight.

However, Sheedy's second penalty of the game in the 69th minute proved to be the match-winner, leaving Worcester down in 10th place.

Bristol Bears scored two tries in as many minutes to come from behind and defeat Northampton Saints 20-14 at Franklin's Gardens on Sunday.

Northampton's second-half collapse meant they had to settle for a losing bonus point that left them four adrift of Premiership leaders Exeter Chiefs, while Bristol moved up to fourth.

Rory Hutchinson sent the ball out to the right for Saints full-back Harry Mallinder to dive over in the corner eight minutes into his return from 15 months out with a knee injury.

James Grayson failed to add the extras but had a trio of penalties by the 43rd minute, the first of which came after Harry Randall was on the receiving end of a huge hit of Cobus Reinach and failed to release the ball.

Hutchinson was shown a yellow card for a high tackle on Joe Joyce and Callum Sheedy got Bristol on the board from the resulting penalty in the 50th minute.

Replacement wing Henry Purdy touched down after Piers O'Conor surged through a gap in the defence after the hour mark and Bristol were soon ahead.

Some excellent work from Sheedy preceded Lewis Thiede touching down from close range in the 63rd minute, with Ian Madigan slotting through a penalty after the buzzer.

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