Friday 23 February 2018

Saracens power into second European final in three years

Saracens 24 Wasps 17

Billy Vunipola of Saracens celebrates with team mate Brad Barritt (L) after their victory Photo: Getty
Billy Vunipola of Saracens celebrates with team mate Brad Barritt (L) after their victory Photo: Getty
Ashley Johnson of Wasps scores a try Photo: Getty
Joe Launchbury of Wasps is tackled by Owen Farrell Photo: Getty

Nigel Whittaker

Saracens took a giant step towards sealing a possible domestic and European double as they booked their place in next month's Champions Cup final at the expense of their Premiership rivals, Wasps.

Saracens were tested physically but flanker Michael Rhodes' first-half score, which was followed by a penalty try that Owen Farrell converted as part of a 14-point haul, proved enough.

Farrell also spent 10 minutes in the sin bin for what was deemed a dangerous tackle on Dan Robson which led to the Wasps scrum-half being taken off on a stretcher after a sickening clash of heads.

Wasps replacement prop Simon McIntyre was also yellow-carded for an apparent kick on man of the match Maro Itoje's head and he was lucky that referee Romain Poite didn't show him a red.

Wasps went into the game as outsiders, but they required just 73 seconds to make an impact as they stunned Saracens with a blistering opening converted try through Robson.

Farrell added a penalty after Rhodes' try as Sarries took an 8-7 lead into the break and the England out-half continued to find his range in the second half with three more penalties.

Jimmy Gopperth fired over a penalty for Wasps but Saracens were awarded a penalty try and although Ashley Johnson crossed late on, it didn't deny them a place in the final against Racing 92.

Saracens:  A Goode; C Ashton, D Taylor, B Barritt, C Wyles; O Farrell, R Wigglesworth (N De Kock 76); M Vunipola, S Brits (J Saunders 76), P Du Plessis (T Lamositele 76); M Itoje, G Kruis; M Rhodes (J Wray 62), W Fraser, B Vunipola.
Wasps: C Piutau; C Wade, E Daly, S Piutau, F Halai; J Gopperth, D Robson (J Simpson 65); M Mullan (S McIntyre 60), C Festuccia (A Johnson 69), L Cittadini (P Swainston 65); J Launchbury, B Davies; J Haskell (T Young 69), G Smith, N Hughes (S Jones 69).
REF - R Poite (France)

Irish Independent

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