Round-up: Quick-fire Ben Ransom boosts Saracens to subdue Exeter 16-9


Saracens stayed in command of the Aviva Premiership but they had to battle to subdue Exeter 16-9 at Sandy Park after the home side launched a late onslaught.

Exeter were always playing catch-up after Ben Ransom, who came on for Charlie Hodgson after two minutes, went over for a try only two minutes later. Kicks from Alex Goode and Marcelo Bosch kept Saracens on course for a sixth victory of the league season.

Harlequins celebrated the 50th anniversary of playing at the Stoop with an entertaining 27-19 victory over Gloucester, who paid for their indiscipline. The Cherry and Whites lost three men to the sin-bin after a promising start. They were trailing only 6-5 when their scrum-half, Jimmy Cowan, was banished but in his absence they conceded converted tries to Nick Easter and Danny Care. Luke Wallace went over for a third try shortly after the restart.

A try after 50 minutes from the wing Jonny May, which was converted by Freddie Burns, gave Gloucester reason to believe in the chance of clawing something from the game but they were never again in touch despite Billy Twelvetrees adding his second try late on and Burns again converting.

Leicester ended a run of three league games without a victory with a 20-11 win at home to London Irish, who were the architects of their own downfall, conceding a penalty try in each half for collapsing scrums. While Irish will debate the first one the referee, Martin Fox, gave the second after a string of offences by the Exiles as they defended desperately on their own line. Toby Flood converted both and kicked two penalties. James O’Connor kicked two first-half penalties for Irish and Fergus Mulchrone went over for a late try. Irish missed out on a losing bonus point after failing with a conversion and a drop goal attempt late on.

It wasn’t pretty in any way, but Argentina won’t mind. A hard-fought 19-14 victory over Italy at a soggy Olympic stadium in Rome brought to an end their losing streak at eight games. The bulk of those defeats came in the tough arena of the Rugby Championship, where they took on New Zealand, Australia and South Africa, and since then they have lost to England and Wales. Argentina went ahead when Nicolas Sanchez converted a try byJuan Imhoff after 20 minutes and then added three penalties and a drop goal. Michele Campagnaro scored Italy’s try.