Northampton Saints tenure at the top of the Aviva (English) Premiership may still be intact after their slightly surprising defeat away at Sale Sharks yesterday, to end a five-match winning streak that had seemed destined to pull them clear of the chasing pack at the top, but what it has done is to bring Bath back on to their heels with only one point now separating them.

Sale’s excellent 20-7 victory limited the powerful Saints to just the one try on the day from Teimana Harrison late on, by which time the game was basically done and dusted after twenty unanswered points prior to that for the home side. They led 13-0 at the break after England-hopeful Danny Cipriani’s two penalties and a try from Eifion Lewis-Roberts, which became 20-0 when Dan Braid crossed the line for a further try in the second period.

Bath’s 39-26 success over Wasps ensured that the gap to the Saints is down to a slender margin at the top after the weekend’s fixtures, with a notable first being the opening try for Rugby league convert Sam Burgess for Bath in the second period. The home side were always in control, leading comfortably 20-5 by the break thanks to tries from Francois Louw and Semesi Rokoduguni (the latter limping off with a thigh strain as a result). With Wasps’ mustering just an Alapati Leiua try themselves. After Burgess’ success, ex- England back Matt Banahan clinched the vital bonus point with a further try which was added to by Ollie Devoto for Bath, following on from Fijian-born Nathan Hughes’ five-pointer for Wasps. The away side managed a four-try bonus point of their own when Ben Jacobs and Alex Lozowski crossed the Bath line later on in the match, perhaps partly due to the fact that Bath were fielding two scrum-halves due to injuries by that time.

Burgess, playing at inside-centre against Wasps, has admitted that the change from league to union is proving more of a challenge than he first expected, but this was an encouraging step on what many hope will be a successful spell in the game as he targets a possible England call up in the future.

There has been some hope offered by former England captain Lawrence Dallaglio regarding the incumbent England number eight Ben Morgan, after he was seen to be stretchered off on Friday while playing for his club side Gloucester against Saracens. Gloucester dramatically snatched the game at the death 24-23 thanks to a penalty from half-way by Welsh star James Hook, after a long stoppage in the play while Morgan received treatment on the pitch. The recent star performer during the autumn internationals fractured his leg in the Premiership game, but Dallaglio believes that he will have recovered by the time the World Cup comes around in September. One thing for certain though is that he will be a big miss for England in the upcoming Six Nations’ tournament which begins next month.

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