Saracens Aussie lock Skelton unlocks Harlequins defence


London (AFP)

Two tries by Australia second-row Will Skelton completed an impressive Saracens fight back from 17-6 down to beat Harlequins 27-20 and keep the pressure on English Premiership tabletoppers Exeter on Saturday.

The 26-year-old Skelton -- capped 18 times until he opted to join Saracens in 2017 -- went over from close range twice in the second-half with team-mate veteran Springbok Schalk Burger touching down for another.

More than 40,000 spectators -- including England head coach Eddie Jones -- turned up at the London Stadium to watch a lukewarm affair until Harlequins scrum-half Danny Care, who had scored a try, and Saracens Welsh star Liam Williams went at each other and were sin-binned for their trouble.

Saracens are four points behind Exeter, who host Bath on Sunday whilst Harlequins remain firmly in the play-off picture -- despite two successive defeats -- occupying the fourth and final spot, eight points to the good of Northampton Saints.

Gloucester advanced their claims to a top four place -- their first since 2011 -- whilst all but ending Wasps hopes with a 27-14 win at Kingsholm, the hosts fourth win in five matches.

The reliable kicking of Billy Twelvetrees contributed 12 points with the hosts running in three tries to occupy third place.

Wasps' poor form at a crucial part of the season has cost them dear -- just two wins in their last 14 matches in all competitions -- leaving them 12 points off Harlequins with five games of the regular season remaining.

Ben Te'o ended a turbulent week on the right note as he was among the tryscorers -- Wales' Grand Slam winning star Josh Adams another -- in Worcester Warriors' 27-25 victory at Bristol giving the victors a potentially crucial win in their battle to avoid relegation.

The 32-year-old New Zealand-born centre -- who returned late to the England hotel along with team-mate Billy Vunipola after a night out drinking following the 38-38 draw with Scotland last Saturday -- was yellow-carded late on for deliberate offside.

However, a few nervy moments later he could relax as Bristol fly-half Ian Madigan's penalty drifted wide of the posts to give the visitors victory.

Warriors remain second from bottom but just two points off ailing giants Leicester, who lost to Northampton on Friday.

Bottom side Newcastle, who occupy the sole relegation spot, host Sale later and need to win to keep themselves from being cut off as they are seven points off Worcester.