Bristol finish on top, Exeter edge Sale to claim a home semi-final

Bristol finish on top, Exeter edge Sale to claim a home semi-final

The finals of the Premiership have been confirmed after Exeter claimed a remarkable 20-19 come from behind win over Sale Sharks to seal a home semi-final.

Meanwhile, Bristol earned four league points after their final match of the regular season, against London Irish was called off due to a positive COVID-19 case in the Exiles' squad. The four points was enough for Pat Lam's side to finish top of the table and they will now host Sale Sharks at Ashton Gate in the semi-finals.

The two points London Irish received for the cancelled game was not enough for the Exiles to claim a spot in the Champions Cup next season as Bath's 30-24 win over Northampton and Wasps' double bonus point loss to Leicester Tigers show them claim the final two places.

Gloucester and Worcester had their final games of the season called off as the two sides finished the season in second to last and last place respectively.

Exeter staged a fantastic fightback despite being a man down to beat the Sale Sharks 20-19. Sale Sharks stamped their authority on the game in the first half and served a notice to the current Premiership champions ahead of their semi-final clash next weekend as they lead 3-14 at halftime. Dave Ewers was lucky to not receive his marching orders in the first half but Sam Skinner was not as lucky has he was shown a red card in the second half for a high tackle on Faf de Klerk.

The momentum swung Exeter's way in the 54th-minute as tries from hooker Luke Cowan-Dickie and scrumhalf Stu Townsend as well as two penalties and conversions from skipper Joe Simmonds secured the win for the Chiefs.

Sale led 19-3 early in the second half after tries from Byron McGuigan, AJ MacGinty and Arron Reed but were ultimately undone by Exeter’s astonishing resilience.

Dan Cole scored just his third try for Leicester Tigers as Steve Borthwick's side secured their first top half finish in the competition in three seasons after a thrilling  38-31 win over Wasps. Cole had scored just two tries in 190 Premiership appearances before the clash with Wasps but increased his tally to three in the first half. Cameron Henderson and Matt Scott also scored for Leicester in the first half as they led Wasps 21-24. Sione Vailanu scored the start and end of the first half with Jacob Umaga also dotting down for the hosts to keep them in the game at half time.

Julian Montoya drew first blood in the second half with a try with Will Rowland responding before the hour mark for Wasps. Tomas Lavanini gave Leicester a departing gift with the try that sealed the result with eight minutes to play but Umaga would slot a late penalty to claim a losing bonus point along with their try bonus. 

Josh Bayliss scored a stellar solo try in the final minute of the game as he sped away from 70 metres out to secure a Champions Cup place next season and victory over Northampton. 3,000 supporters packed into the Rec to witness Bath secure a place in Europe’s elite club competition next season and to see Zach Merce make his 100th and final appearance for Bath before joining Montpellier. 
The 3000 supporters were on the edge of their seats as replacement flanker Josh Bayliss galloped 70 metres for the clinching try with the clock at zero. Rhys Priestland, who was also playing his final game for Bath, opened the scoring with a penalty just four minutes into the game. Taqele Naiyaravoro scored soon after and was over the line again just before the break as Saints led 15-19. Sam Underhill and Taulupe Faletau both scored for Bath in the first 40.
The hosts took the lead early in the second half with Jacques du Toit rumbling over but Saints hit back on the hour mark with James Grayson scoring. Priestland made it 25-24 with 17 minutes to play before Bayliss sealed the result with the final play of the game. 

Final standings

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