Leicester dismantle Exeter as Worcester top London Irish in Premiership return

Steve Borthwick fired an early warning shot to the rest of the Premiership after his Leicester Tigers started their 2021/22 season with an impressive 34-19 win over Exeter Chiefs on Saturday.

Running scores were hard to come by when Saracens opened the campaign with a 26-9 win at Bristol Bears on Friday evening, but thankfully the whitewash saw a lot more action during Saturday's slate.

Worcester Warriors are also waiting on several British and Irish Lions to return from their summer break but still had the resources to overcome London Irish 36-24.

Northampton Saints saved their best until late on to beat Gloucester 34-20, while Sale Sharks completed a clean sweep for the home sides and ensured Danny Cipriani's Bath debut was one to forget, kicking in the final seconds to win 20-19 in the late kick-off.

Mirror Sport breaks down the best of Saturday's Premiership action as England's elite made a thrilling return to action…

Tigers claw Exeter down to size

Curtain-raisers don't get much better than running in five scores against one of last season's finalists, with Leicester never looking as though they were in trouble facing the threat of Exeter .

Hooker Nic Dolly stole the show with two tries after a fine pre-season for the Tigers, while winger Harry Potter also rustled up some magic to bag a score of his own in the opener.

The latter's was one of three first-half tries for Leicester's back line as full-back Fredde Steward and centre Matt Scott also crossed over to establish a 20-5 foothold at the interval.

Leicester wobbled early in the second period when Harry Wells gave up a penalty try and was sin binned for bringing down a maul, while Don Armand and Sam Hidalgo-Clyne also scored for the guests.

The Tigers did a fine job of caging the attacking trio of Ollie Devoto, Henry Slade and Jack Nowell for the most part, while Exeter really missed Sam Simmonds' usual contributions at No. 8.

Do you think Saracens will lift the Premiership crown in their first season back among the top flight? Let us know in the comments section.

New-look Worcester wound Exiles

Last season's basement-dwellers are already capitalising after a string of summer signings, and Worcester oozed potential en route to an opening-day victory over London Irish.

The afternoon didn't get off to a dream start at Sixways after Ollie Hassel-Collins sped to score first for the visitors, but that 5-0 lead lasted only 10 minutes as the Warriors began to sharpen their tools.

Flanker Sam Lewis levelled the try count before Melani Nanai and new signing Willie Heinz each scored before the break, while Matt Kvesic and Perry Humphreys added two more tries after the restart.

Declan Kidney's side crossed the line three times in the second salvo to win the half 19-17, but it wasn't enough to overturn the deficit as Worcester started the season with a spring in their step.

Worcester fans can afford to be excited about what's to come, too, with Duvan van der Merwe and Rory Sutherland still yet to join up with the Warriors following their involvement with the Lions.

Ill discipline costs Gloucester at Northampton

Gloucester struggled to build a head of steam in their visit to Franklin's Gardens, where the Cherry and Whites suffered a 34-20 loss after seeing two players sin binned during the first half.

Northampton were left ruing their own errors after only heading in at half-time as 10-5 leaders, with George Furbank's try all that stood between the two teams.

England-capped Ollie Thorley did his chances of being selected for the autumn internationals no harm by scoring just after his side were reduced to 14, but it wasn't a trend that would stick.

A pair of Gloucester Jacks, Singleton and Clement, each spent 10 minutes in the bin for preventing try-scoring opportunities, but it wasn't until the second half that the Saints found their groove.

Nick Auterac scored his first Northampton try within a minute of coming on, while James Grayson also sprang clear to cross over in addition to his 12 points off the tee.

Jonny May followed Thorley over the line with an opening-day score of his own, but the Saints had the last laugh as Tom Wood stretched the margin back to 14 points.

Harlequins will round off the opening weekend when they kick off their title defence at Newcastle Falcons on Sunday, when new coach Tabai Matson will target a successful start in his first game in charge.

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