A hat-trick of tries from Chris Ashton, the Northampton winger, saw the Saints move to the top of the Guinness Premiership last night as they beat Gloucester 38-23. With previous leaders Leicester playing away at Newcastle today, Northampton took the opportunity to go top, if only for 24 hours, as the Tigers will regain the lead if they win in the north-east. Ashton went over in the 12th, 50th and 80th minutes, with Dylan Hartley also scoring for Northampton.
Stephen Myler supported Ashton's heroics with his boot, kicking three penalties and three conversions for an individual tally of 15 points. Charlie Sharples and Dave Attwood got the tries for Gloucester. Three tries inside the opening 23 minutes saw Wasps roar to a 24-20 victory at Worcester to keep them in the hunt for a play-off spot. Dominic Waldouck went over in the fourth and 18th minutes, and five minutes after his second try Tom Rees also crashed over for a score.
Danny Cipriani, the fly-half converted all three tries and Wasps were 21-3 up and seemed to have the game in the bag. However, they were unable to relax as Worcester fought back and tries from Pat Sanderson and replacement Alex Grove got them to within four points, with Willie Walker, their fly-half kicking 10 points. But Wasps survived a nervy last 10 minutes to hold on. Sixth-place Bath also kept alive their play-off hopes as they convincingly defeated basement side Sale 34-15.
Olly Barkley was the star of the show for Bath as he scored a try, kicked a penalty and landed three conversions for a haul of 14 points. Also on the try-sheet were Lee Mears, Matthew Banahan, Joe Maddock and David Barnes. Today's other match sees London Irish take on Leeds. * Compiled by Graham Caygill