Gallagher Premiership: Northampton Saints stay top, Bristol Bears win thriller, Saracens triumph | Rugby Union News

We round up all of the action from Saturday’s three Gallagher Premiership matches, where league leaders Northampton Saints, Bristol Bears and Saracens were all victorious.

Northampton Saints 38-13 Newcastle Falcons

Northampton’s bonus-point victory over winless Newcastle ensures the Saints will remain top of the Premiership standings heading into the Six Nations break.

The league leaders, bereft of players through international call-ups, took some time to subdue a battling Newcastle side, who belied their position at the bottom of the table by turning in a spirited performance.

However, the Falcons still ended up defeated once again and have picked up just four points from their 12 league fixtures this season, and remain without an away win since November 2022.

Courtney Lawes, Sam Matavesi, Tom James, Ollie Sleightholme and Juarno Augustus scored tries for Northampton, along with a penalty try, while Charlie Savala added three conversions. Adam Radwan went over for Newcastle’s solitary try with Louie Johnson kicking two penalties and a conversion.

Rory Hutchinson, selected in an unaccustomed role of full-back, led out Saints on his 150th appearance for the club.

Bristol Bears 57-44 Bath

Bristol shredded the Premiership form-book by beating title contenders and fierce West Country rivals Bath in a remarkable Ashton Gate encounter.

An irresistible first-half performance saw Bristol run in five tries as Will Capon, Joe Batley, AJ MacGinty, Noah Heward and James Williams all breached Bath’s defence, with MacGinty kicking four conversions.

But the home side still had to endure a fraught finale when they had two players sin-binned in quick succession and Bath fought back from 20 points behind to just six adrift.

Bristol, 11 points and five places below their opponents before kick-off, ultimately capitalised on Bath being without several main players due to England’s Six Nations training commitments, although Scotland trio Finn Russell, Cameron Redpath and Josh Bayliss all featured.

Back-row pair Fitz Harding and Magnus Bradbury added second-half tries for the home side, as did full-back Rich Lane, with MacGinty converting both and booting a late penalty as he finished with 20 points, and Benhard Janse van Rensburg landed the final conversion in front of a sold-out crowd.

Joe Cokanasiga, Tom Dunn, Jaco Coetzee, Tom de Glanville and Thomas du Toit crossed for Bath and there was also a penalty try – Russell added two penalties and three conversions – but a bonus point will provide scant consolation, with Russell’s poor kick gifting Bristol their final try.

Saracens 40-22 Exeter Chiefs

Saracens v Exeter Chiefs - Gallagher Premiership - StoneX Stadium
Saracens� James Hadfield celebrates after scoring their fourth try during the Gallagher Premiership match at the StoneX Stadium, London. Picture date: Saturday January 27, 2024.
James Hadfield celebrates after scoring Saracens’ fourth try during the win over Exeter

Saracens leapfrogged Exeter in the Premiership table courtesy of an entertaining victory at a packed StoneX Stadium.

Two tries from James Hadfield and 15 points from the boot of Racing 92-bound Owen Farrell saw them avenge their 65-10 opening weekend defeat against the same opponents.

Ivan van Zyl, Juan Martin Gonzalez and Theo McFarland got the other tries for the hosts to secure the bonus point.

Saracens v Exeter Chiefs - Gallagher Premiership - StoneX Stadium
Exeter Chief's Olly Woodburn scores their first try despite the efforts of Saracens' Rotimi Segun during the Gallagher Premiership match at the StoneX Stadium, London. Picture date: Saturday January 27, 2024.
Exeter Chief’s Olly Woodburn scored their first try despite the efforts of Saracens’ Rotimi Segun

Ahead of the eight-week break for the Six Nations, the sides scored two tries apiece to go in level at 15-15, and continued the back-and-forth affair to start the second, including a stunning try-of-the-season contender from Rusi Tuima.

But in the week Farrell’s departure was confirmed, it was his boot that helped Saracens move clear in the second half and secure a valuable victory.

Olly Woodburn and Greg Visilau got the other tries for Exeter, while Josh Hodge kicked a penalty and a conversion after taking over kicking duty from Harvey Skinner.

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