Gallagher Premiership: London Irish finished a difficult week on a high with victory over Exeter Chiefs | Rugby union news

Gallagher Premiership results – Saturday: Bath 61-29 Saracens, Bristol 36-21 Gloucester, Leicester 17-20 Harlequins, London Irish 17-14 Exeter, Sale Sharks 54-12 Newcastle Falcons

Last Updated: 06/05/23 9:26pm

Henry Arundell was part of the London Irish team which helped them finish their campaign on a high

Henry Arundell was part of the London Irish team which helped them finish their campaign on a high

A round-up of Saturday’s Gallagher Premiership action as London Irish finished a difficult week on a high.

London Irish 17-14 Exeter Chiefs

Two tries from Juan Martin Gonzalez ensured London Irish finished a difficult week on a high as they saw off Exeter Chiefs 17-14 at the Gtech Stadium.

The build-up to the game had been far from ideal for Irish, whose players were paid late as the club’s proposed takeover continues to drag on.

In a game that swung one way then the other, Tom Hendrickson looked like he had earned Chiefs the victory, only for Gonzalez to turn it around for the Exiles to secure a fifth-placed finish, their best return in 14 years since they reached the Premiership final.

Declan Kidney paid tribute to his side, ranking the emotion of this week up there with anything he has experienced in the game.

He said: “For the year’s work, I’m delighted for everybody in the organisation. The players have been brilliant, when you think that is only our second game in six weeks.

“The fact we have finished up with the best of the rest, for some it might not mean much but for us, given where we’ve come from, we’re absolutely delighted with it.

“There were many, many challenges, like every club in this league, that we have had to overcome. Some of them have been more recent and how the boys did that, how the coaches, strength and conditioners, everyone stayed on track. These lads were always going to play.

“These lads have gone from Championship to 10th, to ninth, to eighth and now to fifth.

“We’re planning for a rich future with the age of the lads out on the pitch, that is what we are building it on. There is a rich future for this club on the pitch and I’m sure the people off the pitch will do the business and see it through.”

Bristol 36-21 Gloucester

Bristol missed out on a Heineken Champions Cup spot for next season despite a hard-fought 36-21 win over local rivals Gloucester as they were pipped by Bath on points’ difference.

The bonus-point victory was not enough for Bears to stay in eighth place in the final table as Bath’s winning margin over Saracens proved crucial.

Semi Radradra scored two tries on his farewell appearance for Bristol while Sia Naulago, Magnus Bradbury and Harry Thacker were also on the try-scoring sheet, with AJ MacGinty adding four conversions and a penalty.

Ollie Thorley and Jonny May scored Gloucester’s tries and there was also a penalty try award, with Adam Hastings and Billy Twelvetrees each adding a conversion.

Bath 61-29 Saracens

Bath ran in nine tries in a 61-29 win over a game Saracens second string to snatch the last Heineken Champions Cup spot next season from local rivals Bristol.

Hooker Tom Dunn scored a hat-trick as Johann van Graan’s resurgent side notched a fourth successive Gallagher Premiership victory, a run that has propelled the club from the bottom of the table to that all-important eighth qualifying place.

The Rec broke into wild celebration as news came through from Ashton Gate that Bristol’s winning margin against Gloucester had not been enough.

Leicester 17-20 Harlequins

Chris Ashton’s decorated career ended with a red card as Leicester were defeated 20-17 by Harlequins.

The former England winger, who is retiring at the end of the campaign, was dismissed towards the end of the first half for a dangerous high tackle on opposite number Cadan Murley.

Despite the loss, Leicester’s semi-final at Sale next week was confirmed, while Quin’s wideman Murley will end as the top-flight’s leading scorer with 15 tries.

Sale Sharks 54-12 Newcastle Falcons

Sam James scored twice as Sale Sharks warmed up for the play-offs by dispatching Newcastle Falcons 54-12.

The hosts went behind early but responded comprehensively, running in eight tries at the AJ Bell Stadium, which will play host to Sharks’ semi-final clash with Leicester Tigers next Sunday.

Newcastle arrived knowing they would prop up the table regardless of the outcome but made the stronger start, and crossed for the afternoon’s opening score when Pedro Rubiolo crashed over following neat footwork from Elliott Obatoyinbo.