First XV – Aviva Premiership – By Andrew Todd

With a week off from the RBS Six Nations all eyes were focusing back on domestic level Rugby Union this weekend and there were a number of crucial games in the English Premiership.

Perhaps the most crucial of all came at the Kassam Stadium, where Sale Sharks picked up a 26-25 victory to seal their fourth win in a row in all competitions, beating a beleaguered London Welsh.

This result leaves the Sharks still rooted to the foot of the table, but they find themselves now only three points behind Welsh who sit two places above them.

There was a top of the table clash at the Twickenham Stoop where Harlequins secured a 25-21 victory over the Leicester Tigers to go two points clear.

A try from Danny Care, back from England duty, and seven successful kicks from the boot of Ben Botica, were enough to see of a brave performance from the Tigers.

Despite these two big games, it was money spinning Saracens who took all the headlines. The opening of their new stadium, Allianz Park, and the artificial pitch that comes with it had a lot of speculation around it.

Despite this, everything went off without a glitch and Sarries secured a comfortable 31-11 victory over the Exeter Chiefs.

It was England’s old and new that were the difference, 16 points for former England international Charlie Hodgson, as well as a try for fellow veteran Matt Stevens, were enough to seal the win.

But not to be outdone, current England international Mako Vunipola went over the whitewash twice, to ensure the potentially vital four try bonus point was earned.

Elsewhere there were victories for London Wasps, Bath and Northampton Saints who now all find themselves in with a shout for the crucial top four places.

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