Round-Up: Bath open door for Stevens

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The Independent Online

Bath, struggling towards the foot of the Premiership, yesterday confirmed they would be keen to welcome the disgraced prop Matt Stevens back to the Recreation Ground at the end of his two-year suspension for cocaine abuse.

Stevens will be available from January 2011 and has already been contacted by Wasps. Nick Blofeld, the Bath chief executive, said: "It is clear that Matt's presence has been missed, both on and off the pitch. He is a big character with strong leadership skills and a lot of charm."

London Irish lost ground on pacesetters Saracens yesterday after slipping to their first Premiership defeat since the opening day of the season at home to battling Newcastle.

Last season's finalists produced an error-strewn performance, which represented the first time in eight attempts the Falcons had beaten them. Despite failing to register a try, Newcastle recorded a third straight league win. Irish's Tongan No 8 Chris Hala'ufia scored the only try of a poor match but that, and a bonus point, will be of little consolation to head coach Toby Booth.

Carl Fearns touched down with six minutes remaining to complete a remarkable second-half fightback from Sale and deny bottom club Leeds a first-ever win over their northern rivals.

Leeds have been widely tipped to go straight back down but they are acclimatising to the demands of the Premiership and thoroughly outplayed Sale in the opening period.

Two converted tries from Lee Blackett and Scott Barrow gave the Yorkshiremen a deserved 14-3 interval advantage, but they couldn't close it out for a second successive league win.

Northampton maintained their unbeaten home record with a win over Harlequins in an enterprising game on Saturday which saw the return of Quins' Tom Williams for the first time since his "Bloodgate" ban. The Saints just about deserved the win as they were the more penetrative side but Quins could certainly have made it a whole lot more difficult but for crucial errors and a couple of key refereeing decisions which went against them.