The Aviva premiership reached the conclusion of the standard season as Leicester, Saracen’s, Gloucester and Northampton confirmed their status as the top four in England. All four won to head into the play off’s in good form.
Jeremy Staunton remains on course for a league winner’s medal with Leicester however the Limerick man is finding it difficult to shift Toby Flood from the starting XV. Staunton was unused as the Tigers beat Bob Casey’s London Irish 32-23.
Another former Munster man Jeremy Manning started for Newcastle and weighted in with a conversion as the Falcon’s went down 42-12 to Bath.
Meanwhile Gareth Steenson has had a frustrating end to the season, losing his place to Ignacio Mieres who scored 11 points in Exeter’s 21-8 win over London Wasps. His team mate Tom Hayes has been a model of consistency for Exeter and the former Bruff lock put in another 80 minute slog for the chiefs.
Kyle Tonetti returned to the centre but had a day to forget as Sale as they went down 68-17 to free scoring Gloucester. Gloucester ran in 10 tries to head into the play off’s in good form although former Ulster Flanker Neil McMillan did score a late consolation for Sale in the 69th minute.
James Downey and Roger Wilson both put in solid shifts for Northampton who remain on course for domestic and European honours with a 31-24 win over Leeds. While John Andress played the final 22 minutes for Amlin cup finalists Harlequins as they lost out 16-13 to Saracen’s at home.
In France, Damian Browne played 50 minutes for Brive before coming off in his final game before moving to Leinster. Browne couldn’t end on a high note however as Agen minus John O’Sullivan ran home 36-10 winners a result which condemned Brive to third from bottom.
David McGowan fared slightly better for La Rochelle as he played 64 minutes of their 30-17 loss to Bayonne. McGowan and La Rochelle will play their rugby in Pro 2 next season after finishing second from bottom in the standings.
In the Magner’s League Tommy Bowe played the full game as the Ospreys nailed a semi final spot at the death with a narrow 12-10 win over Aironi in Italy.