Aviva Premiership round-up: Irish topple Sale to stay in the hunt

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The Independent Online

London Irish kept up their bid for a top-four place in the Aviva Premiership with a hard-fought 34-20 win against Sale at the Reebok Stadium last night.

In front of a record crowd of 16,428, Sale got off to an awful start when Topsy Ojo intercepted a pass by Charlie Hodgson on halfway and ran under the posts.

Then hooker David Paice dived over after good work by the forwards and fly-half Dan Bowden broke through a tackle by Henry Thomas to touch down.

Sale were more aggressive after the break and the lock Sean Cox drove over after sustained pressure by their pack. Wame Lewaravu touched down after a powerful run down the right wing to further erode Irish's lead.

But Irish completed the win when flanker Steffon Armitage scored in the last minute.

Springboks Michael Claassens and Butch James scored all the points as Bath held on desperately to beat visitors Harlequins 19-15 and leapfrog them into sixth place.

The only try came after 11 minutes in one of the few fluent moves of a tense game. Nick Abendanon made ground down the left, Shontayne Hape glided through the Quins defence, found support from Ben Skirving and Claassens was on hand to score.

In the Magners League, Simon Zebo's try proved the difference as leaders Munster strengthened their grip at the top with a 13-6 win at Scarlets. Leinster, even without Brian O'Driscoll, scored three tries inside the opening 13 minutes as they proved too strong for Ulster, winning 34-26 in Dublin and taking over in second place. Treviso battled past Glasgow 19-16.