Sale lose ground to ‘Quins in race to sixth place

Wasps' Jimmy Gopperth (left) and Northampton Saints' Ben Foden during the Aviva Premiership match at the Ricoh Arena, Coventry

Wasps' Jimmy Gopperth (left) and Northampton Saints' Ben Foden during the Aviva Premiership match at the Ricoh Arena, Coventry

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Sale boss Steve Diamond will put his first-choice side through an exhaustive schedule of three matches in 10 days as they look to secure a lucrative European Champions Cup place next season.

The race for sixth place in the Aviva Premiership and a guaranteed spot in the top tier of European rugby saw Harlequins pull a point further clear of Sale on Saturday after they got a try bonus point at home to Newcastle.

Sale, in seventh, beat bottom side London Irish 30-15 at the Madejski Stadium but were only able to score three tries, through Mike Haley, Danny Cipriani and TJ Ioane.

Sale now face a run of European and domestic fixtures in quick succession that could define their season, and Diamond has no intention of resting any of his key men.

He said: “We play Montpellier on Friday, then we travel to Bath to play them on the Wednesday and then we have to play them (Bath) on Sunday. We will be going full strength.”

Harlequins boosted their play-off hopes with a six-try 46-25 victory over struggling Newcastle Falcons.

Leicester boss Richard Cockerill admitted the Tigers had 40 minutes to save their season as they posted a thrilling 35-30 comeback victory over Gloucester at Welford Road.

England centre Manu Tuilagi scored two tries and created another as Leicester strengthened their Aviva Premiership play-off hopes.

“I am delighted with the result, delighted that we got ourselves out of the hole that we put ourselves in,” said Cockerill.

Exeter closed the gap on Aviva Premiership leaders Saracens to three points with a comprehensive 50-12 victory over Worcester in an entertaining game at Sandy Park.

Wasps maintained their pursuit of a home play-off with a resounding 28-6 victory over title rivals Northampton that was lit up by the genius of George Smith and finishing of Rob Millar. The duo combined to score a try either side of half-time to keep the Coventry-based club snapping at the heals of second-placed Exeter.

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