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Summary

  1. Lowe, Clifford & Twomey score for Harlequins
  2. Manoa, North & Fotuali'i touch down for Northampton
  3. FT: Newcastle 23-25 Saracens
  4. FT: Bath 31-14 Exeter
  5. FT: Sale 30-32 Leicester

Live Reporting

By Brendon Mitchell and Chris Osborne

All times stated are UK

Get involved

  1. A fitting finale for 2014

    I'd say it's time for us to go and tuck into a turkey sarnie or two, and leave you to enjoy the rest of your Saturday evening.

    Many thanks for your company this afternoon, we've had four absolutely cracking Premiership matches to warm the cockles on this bitterly cold December day.

    We wish you a tremendous New Year - and we'll see you in 2015.

  2. Review of the day

    Saints slip past Quins

    Quins v Saints

    And we finished with Northampton Saints' return to the top of the Premiership with a win over plucky Harlequins.

    Twickenham was packed with 82,000 spectators as George Lowe's early try put Quins ahead, but Samu Manoa's touchdown and two Stephen Myler penalties gave the champions a 13-8 half-time lead.

    A George North score extended the visitors' lead after the break, before Jack Clifford got one back for Quins.

    Khan Fotuali'i then crossed for Saints and, despite Sam Twomey's late try for the hosts, Northampton held on.

  3. Review of the day

    Saracens survive at Newcastle

    Chris Ashton

    It was pretty tense between Newcastle and Saracens too.

    Juan Pablo Socino missed a last-gasp conversion which would have snatched a draw for the hosts.

    Neil de Kock's try helped the visitors into a 10-6 half-time lead, before Sinoti Sinoti then put Newcastle ahead.

    Nick Tompkins and Chris Ashton tries secured Saracens victory, even though Chris Harris's try closed the gap.

  4. Review of the day

    Tigers bite late at Sale

    Sale v Leicester

    It was breathless stuff at Sale, where Julian Salvi's late converted try gave Leicester Tigers a superb bonus-point comeback win.

    Chris Cusiter, Will Addison and Nathan Hines crossed to give the hosts a 25-15 half-time lead, with Seremaia Bai and Mathew Tait scoring for Tigers.

    Sam Tuitupou put Sale 30-15 up before Miles Benjamin crossed for Tigers and Salvi crossed in the 79th minute.

  5. Review of the day

    Bath bully Exeter

    Athony Watson

    Bath felt the thrill of being top of the table, albeit for a few hours.

    Visitors Exeter had led through Matt Jess, but Bath struck back through Horacio Agulla.

    Kyle Eastmond gave the hosts the lead before half-time only for Jack Nowell to draw Chiefs level at 14-14 after the break.

    But Dave Attwood and Anthony Watson both ran over to give Bath a deserved - and eventually comfortable - bonus-point victory.

  6. Post update

    So before we sign off and send 2014 strolling into the sunset, let's recap the day's Premiership action.

  7. It's tight at the top

    FT: Harlequins 25-30 Northampton

    Table

    Northampton Saints go back to the top of the Premiership, but Bath's bonus-point win over Exeter has seen them make up a bit of ground.

  8. Post update

    FT: Harlequins 25-30 Northampton

    We've learned a couple of key things this afternoon:

    Firstly, Northampton Saints can pretty much turn up, play average, and walk away with a win whenever they like.

    Secondly, Harlequins have spirit and, in parts, quality. But lack a cutting edge.

  9. Post update

    FT: Harlequins 25-30 Northampton

    Northampton's California-born prop Samu Manoa, starting every answer with "hey man", told BT Sport: "The boys had to grind it out. But I back my boys and our fitness. "

  10. Post update

    FT: Harlequins 25-30 Northampton

    Brian Moore

    Former England hooker on BBC Radio 5 live

    "Northampton were the better team, there's no doubt about that. It's been a very entertaining second half."

  11. Post update

    FT: Harlequins 25-30 Northampton

    With 80 minutes up, Saints have a line-out, win it and boot it out. The champions edge home.

  12. Post update

    Harlequins 25-30 Northampton

    That could be it. Quins have the ball in hand but Ross Chisholm knocks on and Saints can breathe a sigh of relief.

  13. Try (Twomey, con Swiel)

    Harlequins 25-30 Northampton

    Here we go. Buckle up for a sizzling last few minutes.

    Harlequins have reminded us that they have contributed to a captivating game today. Danny Care goes swiftly with a tap penalty and the ball travels through the phases and Sam Twomey is over for his first ever Premiership try.

    Tim Swiel gets the extras and Harlequins are a converted try away from winning this.

  14. Post update

    Harlequins 18-30 Northampton

    Kahn Fotuali'i paid for his try though. He's gone off with his arm in a sling and Ben Foden shifts up to scrum-half - a position the full-back hasn't played for a few years.

  15. Post update

    Harlequins 18-30 Northampton

    Brian Moore

    Former England hooker on BBC Radio 5 live

    "Harlequins have simply not had the power and precision to put Northampton to the sword. The Saints can have that and do have that - it's just whether they want to."

  16. Try (Fotuali'i, con Myler)

    Harlequins 18-30 Northampton

    Saints not only smelt blood, they've gobbled Harlequins up.

    Mike Haywood almost barges his way through after great hands from Tom Wood, but Kahn Fotuali'i is on hand to pick up the pieces and dive over. Stephen Myler lands the conversion.

  17. Post update

    Harlequins 18-23 Northampton

    Although Quins are stacking up the penalties as they keep Northampton at bay. Skipper Nick Easter is told by referee Wayne Barnes that the next culprit will be in the bin.

    Saints smelling blood.

  18. Post update

    Harlequins 18-23 Northampton

    Harlequins have survived a period of Saints pressure. This few minutes of defensive grit will have played its part if they go and nick this.

  19. Post update

    Harlequins 18-23 Northampton

    Alex Corbisiero believes he has touched down.

    Ah. It turns out it he basically dropped it. No try.

    Promising signs from the England prop on his return from injury though.

  20. Post update

    Harlequins 18-23 Northampton

    Quins are being a bit fancy free under their own posts, chucking it around like they don't have a care in the world. Eventually they put boot to ball and here come Saints again.

  21. Post update

    Harlequins 18-23 Northampton

    Northampton line-out

    It actually turns out to be a pretty useful line-out, but Harlequins defend their line wonderfully. There's another Saints penalty though and once again they go for the line-out.

  22. Post update

    Harlequins 18-23 Northampton

    Harlequins fully deserve to be in this, but do they have enough to topple the champions?

    Their ill discipline at scrum time costs them again and Saints can regroup. Oddly, they go for the corner rather than the posts.

  23. Post update

    Harlequins 18-23 Northampton

    A bit of controversy in the build up to that try. Tom Stephenson gets Jack Clifford off the ground and plants him on the floor.

    The TV official reckons it's not dangerous though. It's a close call if you ask me.

  24. Try (Clifford, con Swiel)

    Harlequins 18-23 Northampton

    Finally Harlequins get what they're looking for. After Tim Swiel's near miss, Quins recycle and get their rewards for their persistent banging on the door with Jack Clifford creeping over.

    Swiel converts.

  25. Post update

    Harlequins 11-23 Northampton

    So, so close. Tim Swiel may regret cutting his fingernails this morning, as he is millimetres from stretching the ball down over the line.

  26. Replacement

    Harlequins 11-23 Northampton

    It's a first bit of rugby since September for Alex Corbisiero, who steps into the front row. There's also a change at scrum-half for Saints, with Kahn Fotuali'i coming on for Lee Dickson.

  27. Penalty (Myler)

    Harlequins 11-23 Northampton

    Don't get too excited Quins fans. Stephen Myler has one of the most reliable boots in the business and he snaffles a Saints penalty to put us back where we were moments ago.

  28. Get involved #bbcrugby

    Andrew Priestley: This is daylight robbery at Twickenham! Clinical from Northampton Saints, but that's why they're the reigning Champions! #bbcrugby

  29. Penalty (Swiel)

    Harlequins 11-20 Northampton

    Tim Swiel needed that. He's been a bit wobbly off the tee today and even this one isn't convincing. It's between the posts though and the South African has his side's first points of the half.

  30. Post update

    Harlequins 8-20 Northampton

    Quins go through the phases but don't really make the ground they need. Tim Swiel has a chance from the boot though as Saints concede at the breakdown.

  31. Post update

    Harlequins 8-20 Northampton

    A few seconds of madness. Danny Care looks like a genius with a tap penalty. He then looks a fool as he chucks it straight to Ken Pisi.

    Pisi looks to be away, but a remarkable tackle by Tim Swiel, with his fingertips, puts the wing on the turf.

  32. Post update

    Harlequins 8-20 Northampton

    You fancy that Saints will miss Samu Manoa a little bit next season.

    The American number eight is off to Toulon in the summer and he has pretty much been the difference today. A big loss for Northampton and the Premiership.

  33. Try (North, con Myler)

    Harlequins 8-20 Northampton

    Nightmare for Quins. Tim Swiel's kick is charged down by a bustling Samu Manoa. He beats Matt Hooper to the loose ball and pops it up to George North.

    North doesn't tend to miss these types of chances, and he crosses with ease.

    Stephen Myler lands the conversion, and all of Quins' good ground work in the first half could well be for nothing.

  34. Missed penalty (Swiel)

    Harlequins 8-13 Northampton

    It looks relatively straightforward. But Tim Swiel puts it wide.

  35. Kick-off

    Harlequins 8-13 Northampton

    As it stands, Saints are back at the top of the Premiership. They have three minutes left to play with Salesi Ma'afu in the sin bin.

    Tim Swiel starts the second half and even though Saints retrieve it well, they concede a penalty.

  36. Post update

    HT: Harlequins 8-13 Northampton

    Danny Care

    Harlequins didn't just dominate the first half in terms of possession.

    They made 82 carries compared to Saints' 19, and made 224 metres against Saints' 53.

    Plus, Northampton had to make 72 tackles, Quins made just 19.

    But the champions lead by five points - smash and grab anyone?

  37. Get involved #bbcrugby

    John McEnerney: #bbcrugby The Saints more like The Sinners, good to see Alex C back he's a beast & showed it big time in Oz with the Lions!

  38. Get involved #bbcrugby

    What do you make of that first half? Are Saints looking like champions? Will Quins rue some missed opportunities?

    Tweet us your thoughts using #bbcrugby.

  39. Post update

    HT: Harlequins 8-13 Northampton

    All the numbers, apart from the key ones, suggest Harlequins should be in a pretty comfortable position right about now.

    They had more than 70% of the possession in that first half - which is a massive chunk by anyone's standard.

    But champions find a way to win I guess, and Saints, who have been uninspiring, have eked out everything they possibly could from that first half.

  40. Post update

    HT: Harlequins 8-13 Northampton

    Brian Moore

    Former England hooker on BBC Radio 5 live

    "Northampton have left untouched the attacking potential of both Pisi's, Ben Foden and George North - and I hope for their fans that they get more involved because Saints have so much more to give."

  41. Half-time

    Harlequins 8-13 Northampton

    Harlequins have the ball in hand, but rather than go for a box kick, Danny Care reckons it's best to stick it out and get into the Twickenham dressing room, where it's probably a tad warmer.

  42. Post update

    Harlequins 8-13 Northampton

    Saints are still down to 14 men by the way. Harlequins have done everything but make clear-cut chances.

  43. Penalty (Myler)

    Harlequins 8-13 Northampton

    Northampton, somehow, take a five-point lead, despite barely seeing the ball. Quins infringe in their own half and Stephen Myler does the rest from the tee.

  44. Post update

    Harlequins 8-10 Northampton

    Quins move the ball around a little quicker and Saints launch some stinging tackles. Ken Pisi clobbers Matt Hopper, but replays show it isn't high.

    It all ends with a Northampton line-out in their own half.

  45. Sin-bin (Ma'afu)

    Harlequins 8-10 Northampton

    Saints' Salesi Ma'afu barrels in high on George Lowe like an out of control Santa's sleigh. The Australian is swiftly ushered to the sin bin.

  46. Post update

    Harlequins 8-10 Northampton

    Quins keep it, but go backwards a little bit. They then go forwards. They then give it away.

    There is a theme emerging here.

  47. Post update

    Harlequins 8-10 Northampton

    Chance for Quins here as Tim Swiel sticks a penalty out deep into Saints territory.

  48. Post update

    Harlequins 8-10 Northampton

    Yep, given away again. Quins nick it from a Saints line-out and Marlon Yarde stretches his legs for a few moments before Quins get a line-out of their own.

    More juggling than rugby at the moment.

  49. Post update

    Harlequins 8-10 Northampton

    A little glimpse of George North's magic there as he bounces through a few challenges.

    It turns out neither side fancy holding on to the ball that much though, as the Quins back row force a turnover and then Saints do the same at a breakdown moments later.

  50. Post update

    Harlequins 8-10 Northampton

    And that leads to a Saints penalty, which is launched out of touch and relieves a bit of pressure on the Northampton defence.

  51. Post update

    Harlequins 8-10 Northampton

    Quins launch a maul that breaks up and is halted by referee Wayne Barnes. So we get a Saints scrum.

  52. Post update

    Harlequins 8-10 Northampton

    Bit of a break as Charlie Matthews receives some treatment. He seemed to take the weight of the entire scrum, which would probably hurt.

  53. Post update

    Harlequins 8-10 Northampton

    A rendition of 'The Mighty Quins' rings around Twickenham. Possibly one of the best songs in club rugby.

    Anyway, Saints are getting to grips with proceedings with plenty of ball, but Quins are looking to be super quick to the breakdown.

    And that bit of pressure gets them a turnover in the midfield.

  54. Try (Manoa, con Myler)

    Harlequins 8-10 Northampton

    Samu Manoa

    This try is as ugly as Quins' was pretty. But hey, they all count, as they say.

    Northampton regroup and manage to turn Quins around as George Pisi's grubber kick is stuck out for a visitors' line-out five metres from the try-line.

    The catch and drive is full of beans and gets Samu Manoa over for the score.

    The extras from Stephen Myler have the champions in front.

  55. Try (Harris, missed con Socino)

    Newcastle 23-25 Saracens

    Juan Pablo Socino

    What a remarkable end to the match at Kingston Park! Chris Harris amazingly scores a last-minute try to drag Newcastle to within two points, giving Juan Pablo Socino the opportunity to level it with the final kick.

    But the Argintinean fly-half has missed! Saracens survive! What a let off for Sarries - and what heartbreak for Falcons.

  56. Post update

    Harlequins 8-3 Northampton

    A Saints scrum is initially reset, but Quins concede the penalty second time around and Stephen Myler kicks deep into the opposition half.

    Mike Brown makes a swift break though and Quins are looking to peg back Saints once again.

  57. Try (Harris, missed con Socino)

    Newcastle 18-25 Saracens

    Some late hope for Falcons? Chris Harris goes over for his first-ever Premiership try and, although another conversion goes begging, Newcastle are at least set to bag themselves a losing bonus point.

  58. Penalty (Myler)

    Harlequins 8-3 Northampton

    Saints, slightly rattled, are given a chance to get off the mark as Quins are caught offside. Stephen Myler pops over the penalty to make the visitors feel a little more comfortable.

  59. Penalty (Swiel)

    Harlequins 8-0 Northampton

    It's that man George Lowe again - this time winning a penalty for Quins. Tim Swiel makes up for that missed conversion by putting it between the posts.

  60. Try (Ashton, missed con Farrell)

    Newcastle 13-25 Saracens

    That could well be that for Saracens. England wing Chris Ashton is in at the corner following a driving maul and, although the conversion is missed, Sarries should have this game wrapped up now.

  61. Try (Lowe, missed con Swiel)

    Harlequins 5-0 Northampton

    George Lowe has played the part of a pinball in the first five minutes. His initial break has Saints backpedalling and then again he's rattling his way through bodies, after a lovely looped pass from Marlon Yarde, to touchdown.

    Tim Swiel misses the conversion, to tarnish an almost perfect start for Quins.

  62. Post update

    Harlequins 0-0 Northampton

    An early scrum for Saints ends up with Harlequins coming out with the ball, but it's turned over and Ben Foden's attempt at a grubber kick goes for a Quins line-out.

  63. Kick-off

    Harlequins 0-0 Northampton

    Stephen Myler launches the kick-off, Mike Brown returns it and Saints have possession as we get under way.

  64. Post update

    Harlequins v Northampton (16:30 GMT)

    Northampton emerge from the tunnel first, on to a pitch so pristine you could play snooker on it.

    Then come Quins, with most of the 82,000 in the famous ground up on their feet.

    Here we go. Can Saints go back to the top of the Premiership? Or are Quins ready to spoil the party?

  65. Post update

    Newcastle 13-20 Saracens

    Owen Farrell kicks a penalty to put Saracens seven points clear against Newcastle. The Falcons have certainly run last season's Premiership finalists close this afternoon - can they get back into the match with 15 minutes left?

  66. Saints back to hallowed turf

    Harlequins v Northampton (16:30 GMT)

    Saints

    The last time Northampton Saints walked out on to the Twickenham pitch was 211 days ago - not that anyone at Franklin's Gardens is counting.

    It was the day the Saints were crowned the champions of England for the first time, courtesy of Alex Waller's try in the murky depths of extra time.

    Rugby HQ could well be renamed Happy Quarters for Jim Mallinder's men.

    But Harlequins are the home side here remember, and what better way to put some indifferent form to bed than with a win over the champs at English rugby's greatest venue.

  67. Ugo's return

    Harlequins v Northampton (16:30 GMT)

    Ugo Monye

    And speaking of England, Quins wing Ugo Monye had been putting himself in the mix for a recall to the international fold this season, until his groin muscle detached from the bone and needed an op.

    Today will be the 31-year-old's first start since September.

  68. Try (Tompkins, con Farrell)

    Newcastle 13-17 Saracens

    Saracens hit back against Newcastle Falcons, with Nick Tompkins powering over to score at Kingston Park.

    Owen Farrell adds the extras and Mark McCall's side have now edged into a four-point lead.

  69. Corbs is back

    Harlequins v Northampton (16:30 GMT)

    Alex Corbisiero

    Heartening news for Stuart Lancaster - and anyone who has a penchant for England prop options - this weekend, as Alex Corbisiero is named on the Northampton bench.

    The loosehead has not played since September, when he needed surgery to fix ligaments damaged by a dislocated shoulder.

  70. Line-ups

    Harlequins v Northampton (16:30 GMT)

    Harlequins: Brown; Yarde, Hopper, Lowe, Monye; Swiel, Care; Lambert, Ward, Collier; Matthews, Robson; Trayfoot, Clifford, Easter (capt)

    Replacements: Gray, Marfo, Sinckler, Twomey, J Chisholm, Dickson, Casson, R Chisholm

    Northampton Saints: Foden; K Pisi, G Pisi, Burrell, north; Myler, L Dickson; A Waller, Haywood, Ma'afu; Dickinson, Day; Clark, Wood (capt), Manoa

    Replacements: McMillan, Corbisiero, Denman, Nutley, Dowson, Fotuali'i, Wilson, Stephenson

  71. Team news

    Harlequins v Northampton (16:30 GMT)

    Danny Care

    England scrum-half Danny Care is back in the XV for Harlequins and, as we mentioned, so is wing Ugo Monye.

    Northampton hooker Dylan Hartley is absent of course, as he serves a three-week ban for catching Leicester's Matt Smith with his elbow last week, so Mike Haywood comes into the front row.

    No Courtney Lawes for Saints either, who has a knock, so Sam Dickinson comes into an unfamiliar position.

  72. Get involved #bbcrugby

    Sale 30-32 Leicester

    Simon Richardson: #bbcrugby who would bet against Leicester pushing for the top four now? Results like that change seasons.

  73. Try (Sinoti, con Socino)

    Newcastle 13-10 Saracens

    Sinoti Sinoti puts Newcastle Falcons in front against play-off-chasing Saracens, with Juan Pablo Socino adding the extras.

  74. Full house at Twickers

    Harlequins v Northampton (16:30 GMT)

    Twickenham

    It seems there are 82,000 rugby fanatics out there who have wisely eschewed an afternoon of turkey sandwiches and high street sales for a day out in west London.

    Twickenham will be packed to the rafters as Harlequins host Premiership champions Northampton Saints. It will be an atmosphere worthy of roasting your chestnuts on.

  75. Get involved #bbcrugby

    FT: Sale 30-32 Leicester

    Andrew Priestley: What a comeback from Leicester! To overturn a 30-15 deficit away from home against a strong Sale team is an incredible achievement #bbcrugby

  76. Post update

    Harlequins v Northampton (16:30 GMT)

    So now it's time to turn our attention to Twickenham, which is looking superb as the evening draws in over the capital.

    The Premiership champions are in town, and will be purring after their win over local rivals Leicester Tigers last week.

    Harlequins had one of their better days in what has been an up and down season with their win over Newcastle in game week 10 - it's probably about the Londoners got stepped up a gear, is it not?

  77. Post update

    FT: Bath 31-14 Exeter

    Jeremy Guscott

    Former England centre on BBC Radio 5live

    "On this amount of time it is going to be difficult to integrate Sam Burgess.

    "He needs game time. It's the only way he'll get used to this game. I have no doubt he has the skill set to go well in union.

    "You have to start him - he needs more time than 20 minutes - but Eastmond and Joseph are first choice centres.

    "Talk of Sam playing for England is a long way off at the moment."

  78. Post update

    FT: Bath 31-14 Exeter

    Bath full-back Anthony Watson told BT Sport: "It's awesome to come into training every day and work with the likes of George Ford and Kyle Eastmond, and I think our attacking shape has really come together this year."

  79. Post update

    FT: Bath 31-14 Exeter

    Bath full-back Anthony Watson told BT Sport: "It was a bit scrappy at times but we held on at the end and it was great to get the bonus point. We're really striving to be in that top four this season and then push on even further."

  80. Try (Salvi, con Williams)

    Sale 30-32 Leicester

    After being behind for most of the game, Leicester have won this!

    Julian Salvi has the ball over the line with just under two minutes left, and Owen Williams kicks the ball over the posts to put Tigers two points ahead, after being 30-15 down.

    Sale push for a winner, but cannot get past a strong Tigers defence and their losing streak against Leicester is extended to 11.

  81. Post update

    FT: Bath 31-14 Exeter

    Jeremy Guscott

    Former England centre on BBC Radio 5live

    "Bath probably have more X-factor players. The yellow card at the end was the big difference. Exeter got tired defending with 14 men. It's a good end to 2014 for Bath.

    "Saints for me are the best side in the Premiership - Bath are second best and so far I haven't seen anything to suggest anyone is competing with those two."

  82. Full time

    Bath 31-14 Exeter

    There goes the full-time whistle and the victory is Bath's. I'm loathed to use the phrase 'Christmas cracker' - but it really has been a fantastic afternoon of rugby at The Rec.

  83. Post update

    Sale 30-25 Leicester

    Owen Williams' kick has brought Leicester to within a try of Sale, who will play out the rest of the game with 14 men after Will Addison is sent to the sin-bin.

    Can Richard Cockerill's men end Sale's winning run?

  84. Try (Watson, Ford)

    Bath 31-14 Exeter

    Sorry, Exeter Chiefs, I think I just put the mockers on you.

    Bath win the ball back from the visitors' line-out, work the ball across the field and George Ford sends a delicious long pass to Anthony Watson, who makes no mistake going over in the corner.

    The fly-half converts, too, so it looks like Bath are heading to the top of the Premiership with some room to spare.

  85. Post update

    Bath 24-14 Exeter

    But Exeter have done so, so well there, a man light but still able to defend with enough tenacity and desire to win a penalty. They can't find a way of getting something from this match, can they? Into the final five minutes.

  86. Post update

    Bath 24-14 Exeter

    After that free-flowing first half, Sam Burgess would've been licking his lips at the prospect of getting stuck in. But, after another couple of scrum resets, in truth he was just about as involved on the bench as he's been since coming on.

  87. Post update

    Bath 24-14 Exeter

    However, they soon knock-on in the aftermath and now it's Chris Cook's turn to pop the ball in. Can Bath find that fourth, bonus-point-earning try?

  88. Sin-bin (Lees)

    Bath 24-14 Exeter

    Exeter are clinging on a bit now, and Mitch Lees is sin-binned for coming in at the side. The blue, black and whites are going for the kill here - but that's a terrific piece of defensive work and the Chiefs will have a scrum.

  89. Try (De Kock, con Farrell)

    Newcastle 3-7 Saracens

    It's possibly the first moment of real class in this game, and it's led to a try.

    Sarries fly-half Owen Farrell makes it happen with a delightful show and go. Suddenly it's two-on-two and Neil de Kock goes over in the corner.

    Farrell converts expertly to give the visitors a 7-3 lead.

  90. Post update

    Bath 24-14 Exeter

    They go in search of an opening but Exeter's defence is resolute, forcing Bath back. However, another infringement, another penalty, and another kick to the corner...

  91. Post update

    Bath 24-14 Exeter

    This has been far from straightforward for Bath, who've really been made to work for their 10-point lead. Another line-out inside the Chiefs half means another rolling maul. The referee is imploring the hosts to use it, so use it they do...

  92. Replacement

    Bath 24-14 Exeter

    Here comes Slammin' Sam. And it's Jonathan Joseph who makes way, so it looks like Burgess will again be used in the centres.

    Don't forget, he scored his first try in rugby union in an A League game earlier in the week playing at blind-side flanker.

  93. Post update

    Bath 24-14 Exeter

    Jeremy Guscott

    Former England centre on BBC Radio 5live

    "The times Exeter have got into the Bath 22, it feels like 50% of the time they've turned it over. And that's the difference between the teams."

  94. Post update

    Bath 24-14 Exeter

    A game of nippy backs in the first half, a game of beefy packs in the second half. Bath scrum-half Chris Cook is forced to slam the ball out of play a couple of metres from his own line and Exeter will try a rolling maul of their own.

    But, having gained a couple of steps at least, as the ball is worked back inside Sam Hill spills and the home side have the put-in.

  95. Try (Benjamin, con Burns)

    Sale 30-22 Leicester

    A chink of light for the visitors at the AJ Bell thanks to Miles Benjamin's try.

    Leicester back Mathew Tait, who earlier crossed himself, plays the ball outside to Benjamin and the former Worcester winger dives over the line - with the try given after consulting the TMO.

    Freddie Burns then absolutely nails the kick. Game on.

  96. Penalty (Ford)

    Bath 24-14 Exeter

    And George Ford kicks those in his sleep. Probably. Bath are now 10 points ahead - will that be decisive?

  97. Post update

    Bath 21-14 Exeter

    The Chiefs knocked on in the tackle, however, so Bath have the put-in at scrum-time. And the the hosts' pack, boosted by the arrival of replacements Paul James and Dave Attwood, again has Exeter on the ropes and they win a penalty...

  98. Post update

    Bath 21-14 Exeter

    Credit to Bath, twice they've given away poor tries from their point of view and both times they've responded with one of their own almost immediately.

    Here's another home line-out and another huge rolling maul. George Ford has the ball now, twisting away from the first tackle but he can't quite pick out a team-mate and the move breaks down.

  99. Post update

    Newcastle 3-0 Saracens

    Shortly after taking the lead thanks to Juan Pablo Socini's boot, Falcons think they have got the first try of this game as Alesana Tuilagi intercepts and runs in from around 60 metres.

    However, after a lengthy deliberation from the TMO, the decision is no try.

  100. Try (Attwood, con Ford)

    Bath 21-14 Exeter

    Dave Attwood

    What a heave-ho that was from the home side, pushing Exeter all the way back and England lock Dave Attwood has the ball in his hands as the Bath forwards pile over the try-line. George Ford converts and it's advantage blue, black and whites once more.

  101. Post update

    Bath 14-14 Exeter

    Bit of a pause here as Jonathan Joseph receives some treatment for what looks like an ankle injury. Bath win the line-out after that kick forward by Anthony Watson, and here comes the rolling maul, approaching the five-metre line...

  102. Try (Tuitupou, missed con Cirpriani)

    Sale 30-15 Leicester

    Sale have the man advantage over Leicester at the AJ Bell, and it shows for the hosts' bonus-point try.

    Sharks centre Sam Tuitupou picks the ball up from a ruck and runs down the blindside unopposed by any Leicester defenders for an easy finish. Simple.

    Cipriani, though, misses his conversion attempt, but his side are now over two scores ahead.

  103. Post update

    Bath 14-14 Exeter

    Here come Mike Ford's men again though, looking for another quick response. That's nicely done by full-back Anthony Watson, who beats the first tackle before dinking the ball out of play.

  104. Post update

    Bath 14-14 Exeter

    A stunning start to the second half for the visitors, but again it's a bit of a Christmas gift from Bath, who've twice conceded tries from their own attacking possession.

  105. Try (Nowell, con Steenson)

    Bath 14-14 Exeter

    That's really sloppy from George Ford, trying to spread a pass wide but instead clattering his opposite number Gareth Steenson on the back of the head - and in the process putting Chiefs on the attack.

    Now, a delicate chip forward by Sam Hill down the line gives Jack Nowell a chase, and the England wing does really well to get to the ball first on the slide and touch it down.

    Steenson converts from a difficult angle and we're all square again.

  106. Post update

    Bath 14-7 Exeter

    That's a bit better from the Bath pack and George Ford is able to clear it long. Exeter come back again though - they've made a bright start to this second half. But that's a shame for them, as Will Chudley is penalised for holding on and the hosts kick for touch.

  107. Post update

    Bath 14-7 Exeter

    Here's a scrum, just five metres from the Bath line. The blue, black and whites have the put-in, but it's going to be reset after the props lose their footing.

  108. Kick-off

    Bath 14-7 Exeter

    Gareth Steenson gets us under way once more, and Exeter quickly win the ball back following the high kick too. The Chiefs are on the attack...

  109. Line-ups

    Newcastle v Saracens (15:00 GMT)

    Newcastle Falcons: Tait; Sinoti, Powell, Socino, Tuilagi; Catterick, Blair; Vickers, Lawson, S. Wilson; Green, Thompson; M. Wilson, Welch, Hogg.

    Replacements: McGuigan, Frym, Brookes, Furno, Saull, Tipuna, Harris, Penny.

    Saracens: Goode; Ashton, Bosch, Farrell, Wyles; Hodgson, de Kock; M Vunipola, George, Johnston; Hamilton, Hargreaves; B Vunipola, Burger, Joubert.

    Replacements: Sharman, Barrington, Du Plessis, Itoje, Wray, Wigglesworth, Tompkins, Strettle.

  110. Get involved #bbcrugby

    HT: Bath 14-7 Exeter

    Niall McShary: Are the media putting to much pressure on Sam Burgess to perform in his first season? anyone remember Benji Marshall? #bbcrugby

  111. Get involved #bbcrugby

    HT: Bath 14-7 Exeter

    So what do we make of all that? A fantastic spectacle down in Somerset, which Bath are leading by seven points at the break.

    Do let us know what you think of the match so far, and don't forget to tell us where you think Sam Burgess should end up too - in the centre or the back row?

  112. Post update

    HT: Bath 14-7 Exeter

    Jeremy Guscott

    Former England centre on BBC Radio 5live

    "Through territory and possession Bath deserve the lead. Although I've been impressed with way Exeter have defended and the way they defend the ball. But the ambition is coming from Bath."

  113. Try (Hines, con Cipriani)

    Sale 25-15 Leicester

    Sale have a man advantage following Jamie Gibson's sin-bin for Tigers, and Nathan Hines ensures the Leicester flanker's ill-discipline is punished by crashing over from close range just left of the posts for the Sharks, looking for a fifth straight win.

    Danny Cipriani converts. Meat and drink for a man of his quality.

    And that's half-time.

  114. Half-time

    Bath 14-7 Exeter

    Unfortunately for Chiefs, Bath stay strong at the set-piece and turn it over. And there's the half-time whistle.

    That 40 minutes has absolutely flown by.

  115. Post update

    Bath 14-7 Exeter

    Anything George Ford can do, Gareth Steenson will feel he can do too. The Exeter Chiefs fly-half sends through a delightful little grubber, and Bath can only run the ball out of play near their own try-line.

    Half-time approaching, is there another twist before the whistle?

  116. Try (Addison, con Cipriani)

    Sale 15-15 Leicester

    Apologies for the terrible cliche, but an absolute Christmas cracker is being served up onto our plates at the AJ Bell Stadium.

    Leicester fall to sleep after taking the lead for the first time in the game, and Johnny Leota's brilliant work is finished off by Will Addison before Danny Cirpriani knocks over a simple conversion.

    Tigers, though, draw back level soon after through Freddie Burns' penalty.

    The turkey has settled down well into the stomachs of these 30 burly men.

  117. Try (Eastmond, con Ford)

    Bath 14-7 Exeter

    That's a terrific try, typical of this last 20 minutes or so. Bath break at speed and scrum-half Chris Cook does fantastically well, sniping around the side of the ruck, beating the first man and offloading to Kyle Eastmond on the drive, who in turn strolls over for a try. Brilliant.

    George Ford converts.

  118. Post update

    Bath 7-7 Exeter

    This has turned into a really exciting, open game of rugby union. Here comes Henry Slade now, handing off one tackle as he runs forward at speed, looking for one of his fellow backs to pick a killer line. But Bath have done well there themselves, quickly forcing Exeter back inside, and they subsequently concede a penalty for not releasing.

  119. Try (Tait, con Burns)

    Sale 8-12 Leicester

    After Danny Cipriani kicks over a penalty for Sale, Mathew Tait gives his Leicester side the lead against his old club.

    Tigers opt to kick for touch rather than goal, and, after the TMO says Tait's feet were in play in the corner off the back of a maul, Burns adds the extras.

  120. Try (Agulla, con Ford)

    Bath 7-7 Exeter

    Agulla

    And, in the blink of an eye, there is the response! Bath work the ball to the right-hand side, with little George Ford at the heart of the move, and Kyle Eastmond is able to pick out Horacio Agulla, who cuts inside and finishes with aplomb.

    Game on.

  121. Post update

    Bath 0-7 Exeter

    Can Bath produce a speedy response? Dean Mumm offends at the breakdown and George Ford heads for the corner. Here's a line-out in enemy territory...

  122. Try (Jess, con Steenson)

    Bath 0-7 Exeter

    Matt Jess

    I thought Christmas was two days ago? Because Bath have just spread a little festive joy to their West Country rivals.

    The home side have attacking possession just inside the Exeter half but an awkward-looking pass has Dominic Day in a wee bit of trouble, and as he fails to pick it up Matt Jess steals the ball and runs in a try from long range.

    Gareth Steenson converts, and the Chiefs lead by seven points at The Rec.

  123. Missed penalty (Ford)

    Bath 0-0 Exeter

    But the England fly-half's radar is not quite right on this occasion, and the ball drifts wide of the posts by a fair distance.

  124. Post update

    Bath 0-0 Exeter

    But the rolling maul doesn't really get going and, as Jack Nowell tries to spin away around the side, Bath turn it over again and hit Exeter on the counter. And now the Chiefs have offended at the breakdown, so the blue, black and whites have a penalty, which George Ford is going to take on from long-range...

  125. Post update

    Bath 0-0 Exeter

    Jeremy Guscott

    Former England centre on BBC Radio 5live

    "Bath need a bit of composure. There are sloppy passes, and it's all a bit frantic. The discipline required by Exeter to defend as they have done has been brilliant."

  126. Post update

    Bath 0-0 Exeter

    That's unlucky from Matt Banahan, clearing the ball long from out wide but seeing it drift out on the full, just. Exeter have a line-out midway inside the Bath half.

  127. Post update

    Bath 0-0 Exeter

    The hosts are certainly not lacking adventure, first George Ford and then captain Stuart Hooper taking on a couple of ambitious-looking passes under some pressure inside their own half. We're just starting to see what these two teams can do with the ball in hand.

  128. Post update

    Sale 5-5 Leicester

    What a frenetic start to the match at the AJ Bell!

    After Leicester's score, Sale go straight down the other end and Mike Haley puts the ball over the line, but the ref wants to consult the TMO over whether he had contact with the ball when it was touched down...

    NO TRY! Haley is adjudged to have knocked the ball on, and we continue on up north.

  129. Post update

    Bath 0-0 Exeter

    That's more like it from the home side, spreading the ball wide to Jonathan Joseph in space. The England centre has Horacio Agulla for company too, but as he looks to tee the Argentinean up out wide, Agulla instead comes inside and the ball bounces out of play.

  130. Get involved #bbcrugby

    Andrew Priestley: One reason we know that Britain is sport mad is the busy festive period full of sport. The rest of Europe don't understand. #bbcrugby

  131. Try (Bai, missed con Burns)

    Sale 5-5 Leicester

    Sale's lead didn't last all that long as they fail to deal with a sustained stint of pressure from the orange-claded Leicester Tigers forwards, and late replacement Seremaia Bai, back from an injury that has kept him out since the opening day, gets the ball down.

    But Freddie Burns cannot add the extras, missing his second kick of the afternoon.

  132. Post update

    Bath 0-0 Exeter

    Bath v Exeter

    That disallowed try aside, this game has been punctuated by errors more than it has glittering play from either side. Another Chiefs knock on, this time as they looked to break on Bath following a turnover, means another scrum.

  133. No try

    Bath 0-0 Exeter

    It won't count! And, truth be told, the TMO didn't need to take all that long over the decision either, with Kyle Eastmond's pass to release Matt Banahan clearly forward.

    Instead, Exeter will have the scrum and clear the ball long from deep inside their own half.

  134. Try (Cusiter, missed con Cipriani)

    Sale 5-0 Leicester

    We have the first try of the afternoon and it comes at the AJ Bell Stadium. Sale's Scotland international Chris Cusiter squeezes into a tight space down the blindside and crosses over the Leicester line to put in-form Sharks ahead.

    Danny Cipriani cannot get enough curl on his conversion attempt and it stays 5-0.

  135. Try review

    Bath 0-0 Exeter

    The line-out, the first of the afternoon, is good from Bath and here comes the rolling maul. It's eventually halted, so the hosts switch the ball wide instead and Matt Banahan slides over in the corner... But is it a forward pass?

  136. Ouch!

    Bath 0-0 Exeter

    Scrum-half Chris Cook sees a chip and chase opportunity but, having dinked the ball down the line, is clattered by Henry Slade. The television match official will have a little look at this and it'll be a penalty to Bath for obstruction. George Ford heads for the corner...

  137. Post update

    Bath 0-0 Exeter

    Having turned it over, Bath hooker Rob Webber is then guilty of fumbling a simple pass and it'll be another scrum. The pitch is already digging up something rotten, but Exeter's set-piece is good again.

  138. Post update

    Bath 0-0 Exeter

    First scrum of the day then, inside the Chiefs half. Exeter have the put-in and, thanks to a decent shove by their pack, recycle the ball well.

    The set-piece was a real problem in the West Country derby between Bath and Gloucester at Kingsholm last week, with only one successful scrum in the entire 80 minutes. So far, so good at The Rec, however.

  139. Kick-off

    Bath 0-0 Exeter

    Bath fly-half George Ford gets us under way, Henry Slade gathers the high ball, and Gareth Steenson returns with interest. Let's do this.

  140. Here come the boys

    The teams are out at The Rec, Bath in their familiar blue, black and white hoops and Exeter Chiefs in their all-white strip.

    A few clouds in the sky, a few drops of rain on the ground, but not a snowflake in sight, thank goodness.

  141. Chasing the Saints

    Bath v Exeter (14:00 GMT)

    Northampton Saints, who play Harlequins later this afternoon, will be keeping a curious eye on events at The Rec, as two of the pretenders to their throne do battle.

    Victory would put Bath top, at least until Saints get underway at Twickenham, while Exeter can affirm their credentials as top-four mainstays with what would be a statement win in the West Country.

  142. Chiefs on a play-off charge?

    Bath v Exeter (14:00 GMT)

    Henry Slade

    I reckon it's fair to say that Exeter Chiefs have started this Premiership season like a train.

    Having won seven of their opening 10 matches, Rob Baxter's side find themselves third in the table, and with an opportunity to leapfrog second-placed Bath with victory today.

    So are they the real deal this season, or will the boys from Devon fade as the season goes on?

  143. Get involved #bbcrugby

    Luc Turnbull: Obviously Burgess should play at 12... It's more of a natural position for him and it would be a great help for the RWC #bbcrugby

  144. Boxing Day action

    London Irish 24-9 London Welsh

    London Irish score

    London Irish earned their first win in the Premiership since September as they beat fellow strugglers London Welsh yesterday.

    Tries from Alex Lewington, Geoff Cross and Tom Court sealed the victory, with Welsh's Tom May and Irish's Dan Leo sent off in the first half.

    Tom Homer kicked three conversions and a penalty, with all of London Welsh's points coming through Will Robinson.

    The win, their third of the season, lifts Irish to 10th, while Welsh remain bottom without a victory all season.

  145. Line-ups

    Sale v Leicester (14:00 GMT)

    Sale Sharks: Haley; Addison, Leota, Tuitupou, Cueto; Cipriani, Cusiter; Lewis-Roberts, Jones, Cobilas; Mills, Hines; Lund, Seymour, Braid (capt).

    Replacements: Mamukashvili, de Marchi, Harrison, Ostrikov, Easter, Cliff, Ford, Jennings.

    Leicester: Bell; Tait, Goneva, Bai, Benjamin; Burns, B. Youngs (capt); Rizzo, Ghiraldini, Cole; De Chaves, Parling; Gibson, Salvi, Crane.

    Replacements: T. Youngs, Ayerza, Balmain, Peterson, Barbieri, Harrison, Williams, Thompstone.

  146. Line-ups

    Bath v Exeter (14:00 GMT)

    Bath: Watson; Agulla, Joseph, Eastmond, Banahan; Ford, Cook; Auterac, Webber, Thomas; Hooper (capt), Day; Garvey, Louw, Houston.

    Replacements: Batty, James, Wilson, Attwood, Fearns, Burgess, Young, Devoto.

    Exeter: Dollman; Nowell, Slade, Hill, Jess; Steenson, Chudley; Moon, Yeandle, Low; Mumm (capt), Welch; Ewers, Armand, Waldrom.

    Replacements: Cowan-Dickie, Rimmer, Francis, Lees, Horstmann, Thomas, Whitten, Vainikolo.

  147. Team news

    Bath v Exeter (14:00 GMT)

    Don Armand

    Putting Sam to one side for a moment, Mike Ford has overhauled the front row that started last week's satisfying West Country derby victory over Gloucester.

    Nick Auterac, Rob Webber and Henry Thomas come in, while flanker Matt Garvey and winger Horacio Agulla also start.

    Exeter had their superb eight-game winning run carved up by Sale last week, and Rob Baxter recalls forwards Jack Yeandle and Don Armand to his XV.

  148. Get involved #bbcrugby

    That wasn't a rhetorical question either, by the way. Where would you like to see big Sam end up on the pitch?

    Whether you're sat in the front room trying to work out how to use your fancy new tablet or you're one of the 82,000 fans heading to Twickenham, please do get in touch on Twitter using #bbcrugby.

  149. Bring on the Burgess

    Bath v Exeter (14:00 GMT)

    Mike Ford and Sam Burgess

    It was tough enough waiting for Santa Claus to finally make his appearance this year, but on top of that we're still being deprived of Sam Burgess's first Premiership start.

    The former rugby league superstar scored his first try since his cross-code switch in an A league game in midweek.

    But, alas, he is among the replacements to face Exeter today so, like excitable kids at Christmas, we'll have to wait to see where Mike Ford uses Slammin' Sam next - will it be at centre or in the back row?

  150. Post update

    We have a festive feast in store for you today, with four Premiership matches to get our teeth stuck into, including the annual Christmas bash at rugby HQ.

    First up we'll be focusing on events at The Rec, where Bath take on fellow high-flyers Exeter Chiefs at 14:00 GMT, before Harlequins face champions Northampton Saints in front of an 82,000 sell-out at Twickenham at 16:30 GMT.

    You'll also be able to keep in touch with Sale v Leicester (14:00 GMT) and Newcastle v Saracens (15:00 GMT).

  151. Post update

    Dave Attwood

    Christmas can be a hard slog, can't it?

    With presents to buy, turkey to cook and family and friends to entertain, after a good few days spent trying to please everyone else, it's nice to be able to just sit back, relax and let someone else do the work for a change.

    So how about we spend the afternoon watching on as big, bustling blokes tear about a muddy field, bashing into one another, chasing around after an oval ball?

    Sounds good to me. Welcome to our coverage of today's Premiership rugby union.