Leicester Tigers moved to the brink of qualification for the Premiership Rugby semi-finals with a 41-18 victory over Sale Sharks at Welford Road on Saturday.


The Tigers are now nine points clear of Bath, who must beat Gloucester at the Rec on Sunday to keep their push for a top-four finish alive heading into next weekend’s final round of regular-season fixtures.

Freddie Burns was the first of five Leicester try-scorers against Sale and also kicked 14 points on his final home appearance before he joins Bath for 2017-18.

Graham Kitchener, Owen Williams, Jack Roberts and George McGuigan also crossed, the last three tries coming in the final quarter as Leicester finished strongly to earn a bonus point. Sale remain four points clear of 11th-placed Worcester Warriors.

The retiring Kelly Brown and Neil de Kock were afforded warm ovations as they said farewell to Saracens’ Allianz Park in a 27-9 triumph over rock-bottom Bristol that keeps the reigning champions hot on the heels of second-placed Exeter in the race for a home semi-final.

Sarries trailed 9-3 at the break, but turned things around with four tries in the second half, replacement prop Petrus du Plessis responsible for two in what could also be his last home outing. Du Plessis had never previously scored for Saracens.

Exeter remain two points clear of Saracens and are level with leaders Wasps after thumping Northampton Saints 36-12 at Sandy Park to earn their seventh straight bonus-point win, a Premiership record.

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