Harlequins win despite Marler blow


London (AFP)

Harlequins overcame the shock loss of England prop Joe Marler before kick-off to beat Northampton 20-9 in the English Premiership at the Stoop on Saturday.

It was a badly-needed win for the London club, who started the day second from bottom in the table.

Even before they got underway at their Twickenham headquarters, Harlequins saw Marler pull out with a back spasm.

But Alofa Alofa's 11th-minute try and four penalties from replacement outside-half Tim Swiel saw Quins to a well-deserved win.

Gloucester had to settle for a 27-27 draw against Exeter despite leading 27-14 with 20 minutes to go at their south-west rivals' Sandy Park ground.

The Cherry and Whites were still in front with 30 seconds left when Exeter's Damian Welch was driven over for a try from a close-range line-out.

Gareth Steenson then missed the conversion that could have won the match for Exeter.

Gloucester managed tries through Matt Scott, Charlie Sharples and Ben Morgan, with Scotland captain Greig Laidlaw converting all three scores.

Elsewhere, Leicester put their surprise defeat by Sale behind them with a dominant 34-12 win at home to Worcester.

The Tigers scored four tries through Tom Brady, Telusa Veainu, Logovi'i Mulipola and Graham Kitchener, with Owen Williams kicking 14 points, while Worcester replied with one from Jaba Bregvadze and eight points from the boot of Ryan Lamb.

Meanwhile newly-promoted Bristol were left searching for their first league win of the season after a 19-14 loss away to Newcastle.

The Falcons were 19-0 up at the break but Bristol did at least fight back in the second half at Kingston Park to secure a losing bonus point.

Friday saw Bath thrash Sale 30-3 as Matt Banahan, Kahn Fotulali'i and replacement prop Kane Palma-Newport all scored tries at the Recreation Ground.

England fly-half George Ford kicked 15 points.

Sunday sees reigning champions Saracens at home to Wasps in a top-of-the-table clash.