5 Apr 2009

Bristol demoted - Liecester lead in British rugby

9:44 am on 5 April 2009

Bristol have been relegated from the English rugb premiership.

They lost 38-21 to London Irish to seal their fate and a return to the National One league.

Three New Zealanders play for Bristol - Andrew Blowers, Neil Brew and Alifatu Fatialofa.

Bristol's fate was sealed when Worcester beat the saracens 22-8 to put them 13 competition points ahead of Bristol.

At the other end of the table, Leicester remain in first place after defeating Sale 37-31.

The Tigers lost Julian White after 23 minutes for punching Andrew Sheridan, but Alesana Tuilagi and Scott Hamilton gave the hosts a 17-15 half-time lead, Neil Briggs put Sale in front before Hamilton, Dan Hipkiss and Sam Vesty secured Leicester's win.

Second-placed Harlequins served notice of their title credentials by sinking play-off rivals Bath 19-3 at the Recreation Ground.

The league leaders' 13th Premiership victory this season owed everything to a courageous, defensive display.

They absorbed all that Bath could throw at them after grinding out an interval lead through a penalty try when they exerted punishing scrum pressure.

Former Bath fly-half Chris Malone kicked a conversion and three penalties, while England international Danny Care added a drop-goal.

Wing Paul Diggin scored two tries and fly-half Stephen Myler kicked 16 points in a 40-22 victory for Northampton over Gloucester to deliver a serious blow to the Cherry and Whites' Premiership play-off hopes.

England hooker Dylan Hartley and captain Bruce Reihana also touched down for Northampton. Myler landed four penalties and two conversions, with his replacement Barry Everitt contributing two late conversions.