Injuries are hitting Irish rugby thick and fast, but unlike the blow to Gordon D'Arcy, who joined the list of Six Nations absentees on Friday, the damage to London Irish yesterday mostly involved pride. For the moment. The 40-16 defeat by Bath left them scrapping with London Welsh and Sale – who meet today – to avoid finishing bottom of the Aviva Premiership.
The Exiles were authors of their own downfall, conceding 18 penalties to five, collecting three yellow cards and being penalised with a penaltry try. That was quickly followed by Nick Abendanon sliding over and by half-time Irish, having led 6-0, trailed 17-9.
Jack Moates raised the Exiles' hopes with a thrilling breakaway try, but Nathan Catt forced his way over and the prop Anthony Perenise secured the bonus point late on.
Yellow cards held the key at Sixways, where Northampton put their play-off challenge back on track with a 27-18 victory over Worcester.
With Stephen Myler landing five penalties and a conversion, Saints shrugged off yellow cards for Dylan Hartley and Courtney Lawes, but when Worcester lost Neil Best to the sin-bin 10 minutes from the end, Saints shoved Samu Manoa over for the decisive score.
Worcester relied purely on Andy Goode's boot, but Saints forced a penalty try to wrap up only a second victory in five games.
In the Pro 12, the main Irish interest was in the form and fitness of international players. Ronan O'Gara was wayward with the boot as Munster lost 18-10 at Scarlets, beaten by the accurate kicking of a 20-year-old. Owen Williams was man of the match for his five penalties and a drop goal in only his second start.
As expected Leinster cruised past Benetton Treviso, 40-5, the flanker Dominic Ryan scoring a hat-trick.