O'Connor shines as Sale rout Bath


London (AFP)

Former Australia international James O'Connor was Sale's driving force as his side made it three successive English Premiership victories with a 32-9 demolition of Bath on Saturday.

Bath's Rhys Priestland kicked three penalties and AJ MacGinty booted two for Sale in a scrappy first half.

Todd Blackadder's Bath ended the period 9-6 in front, but O'Connor took over as Sale controlled the second 40 minutes.

They touched down through Josh Strauss and Byron McGuigan.

Sale remained on the front foot and deservedly sealed a bonus-point win when O'Connor and Will Cliff crossed the whitewash.

Exeter maintained their place at the top of the Premiership with a bonus point 35-14 victory as they sent Northampton crashing to their 11th defeat in 12 games in all competitions.

It was the first Premiership game for the Saints since they sacked director of rugby Jim Mallinder a week and a half ago.

The Chiefs scored tries from scrum-half Will Chudley, No.8 Sam Simmonds and replacements Thomas Waldrom and Jack Yeandle, with Irish fly-half Gareth Steenson booting three penalties and three conversions.

Saints battled hard but they were undone in the second-half.

They scored tries from wing Ahsee Tuala in the first half and replacement Cobus Reinach towards the end of the game, with fly-half Piers Francis converting both.

Wasps replaced Gloucester in second place with a bonus-point 49-24 victory at the Ricoh Arena, their fifth league success in a row.

Wasps were second bottom in early October after a fourth defeat in a row but have bounced back in style, taking 24 out of a possible 25 points since.

There was little between the teams until the 49th minute when Thomas Young's breakaway try turned the game Wasps' way.

Christian Wade crossed for a brace of tries with Guy Thompson, Dan Robson, Willie Le Roux and Young also going over for the hosts and Danny Cipriani converting five and kicking three penalties.

Will Heinz, Tom Marshall, Freddie Clarke and Mark Atkinson scored tries for Gloucester, who earned an attacking bonus point, with Billy Twelvetrees converting two.

Newcastle held off Harlequins for an 11-10 victory at Kingston Park.

The Falcons were under the cosh for most of the second half after leading 11-0 at half-time with a Vereniki Goneva try and two Tase Takulua penalties.

But after England full-back Mike Brown scored early in the second half and Marcus Smith converted the momentum was all with Quins and Smith set up a pulsating finish when he landed a 67th-minute penalty.

In the Championship, Bedford were awarded a late penalty try to snatch a remarkable 52-52 draw at London Scottish in a match featuring 15 tries.