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Gallagher Premiership: Marcus Smith snatches Harlequins win, Northampton Saints take derby spoils

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Harlequins came out on top in the early kick-off against London Irish despite having a man sent off; Northampton secured derby honours, and Gloucester and Sale were victorious; Exeter beat Bristol 20-12 on Friday and Wasps play Bath on Sunday (3pm)

Rory Hutchinson was among the tryscorers as Northampton saw off Leicester

Rory Hutchinson was among the tryscorers as Northampton saw off Leicester

A round-up of Saturday’s Gallagher Premiership action as Harlequins secured a last-gasp victory over London Irish.

London Irish 21-25 Harlequins

Marcus Smith’s superb individual try in the dying seconds snatched victory for 14-man Harlequins at London Irish as they took another step towards qualifying for the Premiership semi-finals.

Third-placed Quins are now 12 points ahead of the Exiles in the table but they were forced to do things the hard way at the Brentford Community Stadium after having Andre Esterhuizen sent off early in the second half.

They trailed to Ollie Hassell-Collins’ try going into the final minute but Smith conjured up a moment of magic to cap a day where Mike Brown had made club history by becoming the first player to reach the milestone of 350 games for Quins.

Brown, who will be joining Newcastle Falcons at the end of the season, got the first try of the match after Paddy Jackson had kicked two penalties for the hosts, with Smith’s conversion edging Quins ahead.

Fly-halves Smith and Jackson then exchanged penalties, but Cadan Murley’s try on the stroke of half-time saw the visitors move 15-9 in front. However, Esterhuizen’s red card for shoving his forearm into Curtis Rona’s face left Quins a man down for the remaining half an hour.

Mike Brown had plenty to celebrate during Harlequins' win over London Irish Mike Brown had plenty to celebrate during Harlequins’ win over London Irish

Tries from Ben Loader and Hassell-Collins saw Irish seize the initiative. Yet Smith’s penalty kept the away side in touching distance, and he had the final say as he took a pass from Danny Care and stepped the defence to finish on the last play of the match.

Leicester Tigers 18-34 Northampton Saints

Northampton hung on with 14 men in the closing stages to clinch a typically hard-fought East Midlands derby against Leicester and maintain their push for a play-off place.

The Saints took the lead after 10 minutes when David Ribbans forced his way over the line after Dan Biggar and Piers Francis had both been twice held up short, with a penalty from George Ford getting the hosts on the board soon after.

Rory Hutchinson intercepted Ford’s pass to Kini Murimurivalu on the halfway line to extend his side’s lead to 12-3 with Biggar’s conversion, but Nadolo powered his way over from close range three minutes before half-time for the Tigers’ first try.

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Leicester were not helped by losing Matt Scott and Harry Wells to the sin-bin for a high tackle and repeated infringements respective.

Wales international Biggar’s penalties either side of half-time, followed by a try from Sam Matavesi, looked to have secured victory for the visitors too.

Freddie Steward tackles Northampton's Tommy Freeman Freddie Steward tackles Northampton’s Tommy Freeman

And despite a penalty from Ford and Nadolo’s second try of the match, plus a yellow card for Saints forward JJ Tonks, Northampton were able to hold out to take the derby spoils.

Gloucester 35-24 Newcastle Falcons

Gloucester staged an impressive second-half comeback to beat Newcastle and claim the bonus point in an entertaining Premiership encounter at Kingsholm.

A lethargic Cherry and Whites side found themselves 21-7 in arrears after 20 minutes but the hosts rose from their slumbers to dominate and secure a morale-boosting victory.

England international Willi Heinz scored two of their tries, while Louis Rees Zammit, Ruan Ackermann and Lloyd Evans also crossed for one apiece.

Fly-half Evans added four conversions for Gloucester as well, with replacement centre Billy Twelvetrees slotting one.

In response, Callum Chick scored two tries for Newcastle and George McGuigan got the other, with Brett Connon converting all three and adding a penalty.

Willi Heinz scored two tries for Gloucester Willi Heinz scored two tries for Gloucester

Both sides lost men due to injury as well. Gloucester’s England winger Jonny May went off in the first half, while Luther Burrell had to leave the field for the Falcons due to a shoulder injury.

Worcester Warriors 32-35 Sale Sharks

Sale survived a major test of their Premiership play-off credentials before subduing struggling Worcester in a Sixways thriller.

The Warriors, seven points adrift at the bottom of the Premiership before kick-off, led until 13 minutes from time.

But Sale stayed third above Harlequins following a powerful finish which produced tries for wing Arron Reed, replacement prop Coenie Oosthuizen and No 8 Dan du Preez.

It meant the Sharks secured a bonus point following earlier scores from centre Connor Doherty and wing Byron McGuigan, while fly-half AJ MacGinty kicked four conversions and Kieran Wilkinson one.

Worcester ultimately slipped to a 14th successive league defeat – they have not recorded a Premiership victory since November – but pushed Sale all the way through scrum-half Francois Hougaard’s try hat-trick and claimed two bonus points.

Full-back Jamie Shillcock also crossed with a brilliant solo effort from inside his own half plus he kicked two penalties and three conversions for a 17-point haul, with Sale forced into sustained defence during added time.

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