Saints sneak into third place as Leeds wither

Paul Trow
Wednesday 05 February 2014 04:26
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Northampton took advantage of Sale's defeat at Saracens yesterday to clinch third place in the Zurich Premiership with a 28-6 victory over Leeds at Franklin's Gardens.

Saints, who lost England scrum-half Matt Dawson to a hip injury just after half-time, will meet Wasps in the play-off semi-final on Saturday while Leeds face two wildcard games against Saracens this week. The Tykes trailed 8-6 at the break after two Braam van Straaten penalties had been cancelled out by a Peter Jorgensen try and a Paul Grayson drop goal, but they fell away in the final 10 minutes, allowing Steve Thompson and Oriol Ripol in for tries.

Wasps finished second despite suffering a 25-21 defeat to Harlequins at Adams Park. Fly-half Paul Burke sealed Quins' victory with a 74th minute drop goal. Earlier, Craig Dowd and Kenny Logan touched down for Wasps while Ugo Monye ran in two tries and scrum-half Matthew Powell also went over for Quins who meet Leicester in two wildcard legs this week.

Cardiff withstood a fierce second-half fightback before seeing off Caerphilly 48-32 in the Welsh Premiership. The kicking duel between Cardiff's Iestyn Harris, who also scored a try, and Luke Richards produced a total of 40 points.

Rob Sweeney had a day to remember when he equalled the club record of 34 points in a game after coming on as a 24th-minute replacement for Arwel Thomas in Swansea's 52-40 eclipse of Llanelli. Sweeney contributed three of his side's six tries as well as three penalties and five conversions.

Alain Paco, capped 35 times by France at hooker from 1974-80, will succeed Laurent Rodriguez as coach of Biarritz.

Australia's fly-half Stephen Larkham will miss next month's Tests against Ireland, Wales and England after dislocating an elbow while playing for ACT Brumbies against the Crusaders in the Super 12. Despite losing 28-21, Brumbies claimed a semi-final berth against Auckland Blues, while Crusaders take on Wellington Hurricanes.

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