Gallagher Premiership Round 21: Highlights & match reviews

Every match from the penultimate round of the regular season will be shown on BT Sport this weekend.

Published: 6 June 2021 - 8.37pm

With home semi-finals and European qualification at stake, there was plenty to play for in the Gallagher Premiership run-in.

Read on, or jump to the game of your choice, for match reviews, highlights and broadcast details of how to watch each game on BT Sport.

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Friday 4 June

Sale Sharks 45-12 Harlequins

Live stream

Seven-try Sale demolished Harlequins to leapfrog Exeter Chiefs once again into second.

The visitors drew first blood through Martin Landajo before Akker van der Merwe's converted score levelled proceedings at the AJ Bell.

AJ MacGinty's exquisite offload in the build-up to Marland Yarde's try was a first-half highlight before further tries by Byron McGuigan and Cam Neild put the Sharks 26-7 ahead at the break.

Faf de Klerk was then yellow-carded 10 minutes into the second half, but, with the South African off the field, Sale extended their lead courtesy of Rohan Janse van Rensburg, who scored his 11th Premiership try in 35 matches following his return to injury.

Bevan Rodd and Jean-Luc du Preez rounded off the scoring for Sale, either side of Will Edwards' score for Billy Millard's men.

Sale are now above Exeter on head-to-head record, with the Chiefs visiting Northampton Saints on Sunday before hosting the Sharks on the final day of the regular season on Saturday 12 June.

Saturday 5 June

Gloucester P-P Bath

Premiership Rugby issued the following statement: 

Premiership Rugby can confirm that Gloucester Rugby's Gallagher Premiership Rugby match against Bath Rugby - scheduled for this weekend - has been called off.

Gloucester Rugby have returned a number of positive Covid-19 tests in the last few days and members of their playing squad have been ruled out of the match due to these positive tests and contact tracing. We are in consultation with Public Health England and Gloucester Rugby have taken the decision to close both their training ground and Kingsholm Stadium.

Under the Premiership Rugby regulations, the match between Gloucester Rugby and Bath Rugby will be cancelled. A Premiership Rugby panel will now be convened to determine the allocation of points and a further announcement will be made in due course.

Leicester Tigers 23-26 Bristol Bears

Live stream

Bristol ensured that they will have a home Gallagher Premiership play-off semi-final tie after edging past Leicester - but only after a contentious incident late on had left Tigers director of rugby Steve Borthwick fuming.

Following the sin-binning of visiting prop Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro in added time, tempers flared over whether John Afoa should be allowed on to replace him.

The 37-year-old had earlier been withdrawn at Mattioli Woods Welford Road, but Pat Lam gave referee Ian Tempest mixed messages about whether Afoa's departure had been for tactical reasons or due to injury. 

It was eventually determined that Afoa had earlier left the pitch for tactical reasons, with the New Zealander confirming he was able to continue in the 88th minute before helping to keep the Tigers scrum at bay and secure victory.

Earlier in the contest, tries from Semi Radradra and Harry Randall had put the league pacesetters 14-6 up at the break before Leicester scored 10 points without reply thanks to the boot of Johnny McPhillips and a converted score from Hanro Liebenberg.

However, Max Malins and Radradra then ultimately took the game beyond the hosts, with Julian Montoya's late try proving a consolation before the replacement debacle.

Newcastle Falcons 24-14 Worcester Warriors 

Live stream

Newcastle bounced back from their 74-3 mauling at the hands of Exeter last week by putting further distance between themselves and bottom side Worcester at Kingston Park.

The Warriors last tasted victory in the league in the reverse fixture against the Falcons in February when the north-east side returned a number of positive tests.

The chances of Jonathan Thomas' men doing the 'double' decreased dramatically following a first half in which they conceded 17 points without reply inside the first 20 minutes courtesy of two tries from Adam Radwan and one from George McGuigan.

That was how the score stayed heading into half-time before Dean Richards' sealed a bonus point thanks to Sean Robinson.

Converted scores from Jamie Shillcock and Ted Hill added some respectability to the scoreline, but the visitors are still looking for their first on-pitch triumph since 21 November, when they beat London Irish 11-10.

London Irish 36-39 Wasps

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Wasps overturned a club-record 23-point deficit in the Gallagher Premiership to beat London Irish at the death thanks to a hat-trick try from Tom Willis.

Irish led 33-10 at the break thanks to two tries apiece from Curtis Rona and Albert Tuisue, with Ollie Hassell-Collins also getting on the scoresheet.

Wasps were on course for a thumping defeat and Ian Blackett's team talk at half-time seemed to have the desired effect, with tries from Willis and Marcus Watson giving the match a distinctly different complexion.

The visitors kept up the pressure and capitalised on Adam Coleman's sin-binning midway through the second period with Willis' second score before Bassett bagged a brace of his own to make it a four-point game.

It wasn't until 20 minutes later that Wasps got the rewards for their impressive revival, with Willis eventually barrelling over after concerted forward pressure had London Irish on the ropes. 

Wasps have the opportunity to leapfrog Leicester into sixth when the pair face each other next Saturday at the Ricoh, while London Irish will most likely be up against a much-changed Bristol Bears at Ashton Gate after Pat Lam's men secured a home play-off semi-final tie following a dramatic win over the Tigers.

Sunday 6 June

Northampton Saints 26-29 Exeter Chiefs

Live stream

Exeter reclaimed second spot in the Gallagher Premiership after clawing back a club-record 18-point deficit in the league to defeat Northampton at Franklin's Gardens.

Rory Hutchinson got the hosts in front inside six minutes and despite losing David Ribbans to a red card after the lock's right shoulder had made contact with the head of Luke Cowan-Dickie, a sublime assist from Dan Biggar set Hutchinson free for his second try of the contest. 

18-0 down going into the break, the Chiefs came back out firing and quickfire tries from Sam Skinner and Stuart Hogg narrowed the gap to six points

Stuart Townsend then brought Rob Baxter's men within touching distance of the hosts before the teams traded tries through Mike Haywood and Ollie Devoto, with the latter score making it 26-26.

Both Baxter and Warren Gatland will be sweating on the fitness of Sam Simmonds after the British & Irish Lion hobbled off midway through the second period.

Joe Simmonds then kicked the decisive penalty with seven minutes of normal time left as the Devon outfit moved five points above Sale after collecting a bonus point.

The Sharks travel to Sandy Park next Saturday and will need to beat their hosts to secure a home play-off semi-final against the reigning champions.

Exeter meanwhile are looking up and will hope to snatch top spot off Bristol Bears on the final day of the regular season and will be relying on London Irish to do them a favour at Ashton Gate by beating Pat Lam's men.