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Play-off race down to wire

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Play-off race down to final weekend

By PA Authors
By Online Editors

Northampton overwhelmed Worcester at Franklin’s Gardens with a bonus-point 38-10 win to ensure the final Gallagher Premiership play-off spot will go down to the wire.

Two tries from wing Taqele Naiyaravoro and one each by centre Luther Burrell, flanker Tom Wood and hooker Reece Marshall, all converted by fly-half Dan Biggar, put the Saints back in the top four.

Centre Ben Te’o grabbed the Warriors’ only try which fly-half Duncan Weir converted that added to an earlier penalty.

Northampton are a point ahead of fifth-placed Harlequins so need to win at top-placed Exeter in a fortnight and hope Quins lose at Wasps.

Against Worcester, Northampton went about their task with vigour.

Continue reading below…

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The Saints marched to their try bonus point with gusto, reaching the four touchdown mark after just 31 minutes as they blew Worcester apart.

Burrell set the ball rolling as he stepped through a gap in the Worcester midfield after only four minutes.

Then powerhouse Fijian-born Naiyaravoro began rampaging through the opposition defence. The six feet five inch 21-stone winger roared home in the corner when he collected a long ball from Biggar, Chris Pennell could not tackle and he strolled in from 25 metres.

And, with Worcester down to 14 men after scrum-half Francois Hougaard was sin-binned for hands in a ruck, Northampton piled forward. From a ruck 10 metres out, Naiyaravoro blasted away the tacklers to drive home.

Wood made it four touchdowns when the England flanker crashed over from short range. Biggar converted all the scores and, with Weir kicking a solitary penalty for the Warriors during the onslaught, Northampton were well on the way to victory.

However, England ace Te’o, who is leaving the Warriors at the end of the season, gave his side hope of a comeback with a try that Weir converted for the sides to turn around with Northampton leading by 28-10.

Worcester threatened early in the second half but Northampton just about sewed up the game when Biggar landed an easy penalty before converting the Saints’ fifth try when Marshall emerged from a pile of bodies that rumbled over the line at an attacking line-out.

Biggar converted and, at 38-10, it was a case of how many more for the home side. The answer was none as Worcester pressurised for a consolation and the Saints held out with their eyes set on the prize on May 18.

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Play-off race down to final weekend