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Charlie Hodgson stars as Saracens rout Harlequins

Charlie Hodgson played a starring role as Saracens thumped Harlequins 39-0 to claim top spot in the early Premiership table.

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Beaten in the final by Northampton Saints last year, Saracens have begun the 2014-15 campaign in impressive fashion, and their form was in stark evidence as they romped to victory at Twickenham Stoop on Friday.

Hodgson was the star of the show for the victors, racking up 22 points in a one-sided affair as Harlequins failed to build on last week's 20-15 win at London Irish.

The fly-half scored the only try of the first period and also knocked over five penalties, with Chris Ashton and Will Fraser going over after the break to make the visitors' margin of victory even more convincing.

Defending champions Northampton had hammered Gloucester 53-6 in the season's curtain raiser, but were stunned by two quickfire tries this week in a 20-16 defeat to Wasps.

After moving 9-3 in front, Saints were hit by a breakaway score from Ashley Johnson, before Tom Varndell's chip and chase moved Wasps further ahead.

Johnson had earlier received a yellow card for clattering Alex Corbisiero off the ball, with the latter perhaps fortunate to receive only a sin-binning himself after punching Johnson in retaliation.

Ben Foden touched down in the 78th minute to seal a losing bonus point for the visitors, but the score arrived too late for Saints to complete a successful comeback.

Leicester Tigers picked up four valuable points courtesy of a hard-fought 24-20 success over Exeter Chiefs at Sandy Park.

The visitors had to come from behind after scores from David Ewers and Haydn Thomas had given Exeter a 17-13 lead at the interval.

Anthony Allen crossed for Leicester between those two tries, and England international scrum-half Ben Youngs crossed for what proved the decisive score midway through the second period.

Gloucester were another side to come from behind and win, eventually overcoming Sale Sharks 34-27 at home.

Tom Arscott, Chris Cusiter, Luke McLean and Danny Cipriani all went over for Sale, who led 17-6 at the break, but Gloucester did enough.

Jonny May and Robert Cook crossed for tries, while 19 points from Greig Laidlaw proved crucial together with a penalty try.

Newly-promoted London Welsh shipped 50 points for the second time in as many matches this season, going down 53-26 at Bath.

Semesa Rokoduguni and Jonathan Joseph shared four of Bath's seven tries, although the visitors did manage a bonus point for scoring four tries of their own.

Elsewhere, London Irish held off a late Newcastle Falcons fightback to emerge 20-18 victors in a tight contest at Kingston Park.

The hosts outscored their opponents three tries to two, but were unable to convert any of their scores, with Juan Socino's miss after Sinoti Sinoti's 78th-minute try proving especially costly.

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