Saracens downed at home as Harlequins edge Exeter in Premiership final rematch

Saracens suffered a huge setback in their Premiership title hopes after losing 25-24 at home to Gloucester on Saturday, while Harlequins struck late to beat Exeter 14-12 in a rematch of last season's final.

Mark McCall's five-time champions came off second best against the Cherry and Whites despite their guests having two men sin-binned during the first half.

Defending champions Harlequins came off better against the Chiefs as Marcus Smith 's last-gasp conversion decided a game that featured one of the worst red cards likely to be awarded this season.

Elsewhere, Northampton Saints strolled away from Newcastle as dominant 44-8 winners to collect their first victory of 2022 after running in five tries against the Falcons.

Bristol Bears opened Round 13 of the Premiership season with a 32-15 home win over Sale Sharks on Friday evening when Welsh whiz Ioan Lloyd showcased some ingenious skill to seal the bonus-point try.

Mirror Sport dissects the best of Saturday's Premiership procession as England's elite pass the midway mark. . .

Saracens 24-25 Gloucester

Saracens fumbled the ball over the line in their efforts to pick up a third consecutive Premiership win, falling at home to a Gloucester team that now sits just five points below them in fourth.

The Cherry and Whites travelled to the StoneX Stadium having last defeated Sarries on their own soil in November 2008, but the win was by all means deserved as George Skivington's men excelled in wet conditions.

The game looked lost early on when Santiago Carreras (deliberate knock-on) and Lewis Ludlow (collapsing maul) were almost simultaneously sin-binned on the 20-minute mark.

Saracens scored twice through Dom Morris and Rotimi Segun during their absences, but scores from front-rowers Fraser Balmain and Jack Singleton ensured the half-time score stayed competitive at 14-12.

Andy Christie and Alex Lewington grabbed another pair of home tries in the second period, but the conversion was missing on both occasions as the boot of Gloucester fly-half Adam Hastings played a pivotal role.

The Scotland international's contributions from the tee ultimately proved crucial as Gloucester soared over once more in the second half to claim a rare victory in Barnet to cement themselves in fourth.

Harlequins 14-12 Exeter Chiefs

A repeat result of last year's final looked assured after Luke Northmore seized upon a lapse in Exeter judgement to put Harlequins ahead after only three minutes on Saturday.

However, the Chiefs proved their mettle and hit back 30 minutes later through the mercurial Henry Slade, who crossed over himself after initially attempting to put Joe Simmons in for the score.

There was never more than a single score between the two teams, though Rob Baxter's men looked at risk of falling behind after loosehead Alec Hepburn was deservedly shown red for tip tackling Joe Marler on his head.

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Many might have expected Exeter to buckle under the pressure of a deficit in personnel, but replacement hooker Jack Innard made things interesting with a rolling maul score to go 12-7 up after 64 minutes.

The Chiefs came close to pulling off what would have been sweet revenge, too, were it not for the mammoth frame of Andre Esterhuizen finding his way to the line in the 78th minute.

And just as he was in the 2021 final, Smith proved crucial to the end result as he converted an audacious touchline conversion in off the upright, cuing a sea of celebration amid The Stoop's faithful.

Newcastle Falcons 8-44 Northampton Saints

Northampton Saints were picked out as underdogs for their visit to Newcastle after losing back-to-back Premiership games, but Chris Boyd's side rarely looked like anything but favourites in the northeast.

The Falcons may have been first on the board thanks to Joel Hodgson's 13th-minute penalty, but it was largely one-way traffic as wingers Tom Collins and Courtnall Skosan each cruised over for a pair of tries.

Wales international Dan Biggar kicked conversions for both and added two penalties, while Teimana Harrison and Philip van der Walt were each sent to the sin bin following a first-half scuffle.

Boyd opted for mass changes after Sam Matavesi and George Furbank each scored to seal the bonus point, with replacement scrum-half Tom James completing the rout with a fifth Saints try of the afternoon.

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