Guinness Premiership round-up: Paice off as Irish fall off the pace

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The top half of the Guinness Premiership is still a congested place to be; yesterday the former pace-setters London Irish helped keep it that way with a 14-9 loss at home to Harlequins, who kept themselves in the play-off picture, moving up a place to fifth.

The Exiles were without a couple of England players and they soon lost their sometime England hooker David Paice, who was sent off after 22 minutes by Tim Wigglesworth for fighting. Nick Evans kicked the resulting penalty, his second, for a 6-3 Quins lead, although Peter Hewat made it 6-6 at half-time. Alfredo Lalanne put the Exiles 9-6 up at the start of the second half before a tryfrom Ceri Jones gave Quins the lead again, and another Evans penalty sealed the win.

Bath stayed in touch at the top after coming from behind to win 34-17 at Worcester. Chris Latham and Loki Crichton scored first-half tries for the home side, Joe Carlisle converting both; Andrew Higgins scored for Bath and Butch James kicked a conversion and a penalty. Higgins' second and third tries and one from Joe Maddock turned the result around.

Sale nearly won at Kingsholm but a 17-8 half-time lead, thanks to tries by Lee Thomas and Charlie Hodgson and seven points from the latter's boot, turned into a 24-17 defeat. Mark Foster and Apo Satala scored Gloucester's tries and Olly Barkley kicked three penalties and a conversion, and Ryan Lamb dropped a goal. Dean Ryan's side stay top.

Saracens ended a difficult week – their coach, Eddie Jones, announced he will leave at the end of the season – with a20-15 defeat at Northampton. Glen Jackson scored all Saracens' points, including a drop goal for a bonus point. Bruce Reihana scored the only try, Stephen Myler's boot doing the rest of the home side's work.

Danny Cipriani will play for Wasps today, against Leicester at Adams Park. The fly-half missed a chance to change Martin Johnson's mind about his suitability for England when the Saxons' match against Ireland A was called off last week.

In opening round of the Super 14, the Crusaders, without Dan Carter, started the defence of their title with a 19-13 win over the Chiefs in an all-New Zealand match in Christchurch. In Wellington, the Hurricanes lost 26-22 to the New South Wales Waratahs.