Saracens into Aviva Premiership final after 90-point thriller

2018-05-19 19:28
Owen Farrell (Getty Images)
Owen Farrell (Getty Images)

London - Owen Farrell's goalkicking proved the difference as Saracens eventually overwhelmed Wasps 57-33 to book a place in the English Premiership final.

They will face Exeter on May 26 at Twickenham after the reigning champions overpowered Newcastle 36-5 in Saturday's second semi-final.

Saracens were just ahead on try-count, 6-5, at their Allianz Park ground in north London 

But England centre Farrell's 27 points - a semi-final record - in a flawless kicking display helped ensure Saracens remained in command.

Wasps, however, fought back superbly after being 30-5 down early in the second half of what became the highest-scoring Premiership semi-final, topping the 77 points, including 10 tries, shared when Wasps beat Northampton 57-20 in 2004. 

"I thought we were up for it during the week and our start showed that we were," Farrell told BT Sport.

"We were always just enough ahead to not be under too much pressure. It's credit to our boys for sticking in and not letting their heads dip when they had a chance of getting back into it."

But a match played in glorious sunshine, with England coach Eddie Jones among the crowd, produced some mixed news for the Red Rose ahead of their upcoming three-Test tour of South Africa.

Saracens' Billy Vunipola and Wasps' Nathan Hughes, England's first-choice No 8s, both returned from long-term injury problems.

Vunipola, however, did not appear for the second half after receiving further treatment for the hamstring problem that delayed his return from a broken arm.

Saracens, however, insisted this was a precautionary move. Meanwhile Hughes, who had not been expected to play again this season after knee surgery and was left out of the South Africa squad as a result, could yet force his way back into the party to face the Springboks after playing three-quarters of this gruelling match. 

Farrell, who will be England's captain in South Africa in the absence of the injured Dylan Hartley, sent Saracens on their way as early as the second minute when his break and pass released Alex Lozowski for the opening try.

Vincent Kock took Saracens further ahead with their second try before South Africa's Willie le Roux started and finished a try-scoring move to give Wasps a foothold in the match.

However, it looked as if Saracens were all but out of sight when veteran United States wing Chris Wyles dived over in the corner for a try early in the second half.

Wasps though were far from finished, with Jake Cooper-Woolley and Thomas Young crossing for tries.

Farrell's fourth and fifth penalties gave Saracens a measure of breathing space only for Wasps, thanks to more good work by Cipriani and Guy Thompson, to send le Roux in for their fourth try.

Saracens retained their composure and solid drives near the Wasps' line paved the way for a try by Juan Figallo.

Itoje and Wade then exchanged tries before Saracens replacement scrumhalf Ben Spencer ended the try-scoring.

By contrast, Exeter were rarely stretched during Saturday's second semi-final as Newcastle's first appearance at this stage ended in a heavy defeat.

Exeter were 16 points ahead at the break thanks to a try from scrumhalf Nic White, with flyhalf Joe Simmonds adding a conversion and three penalties.

Further tries after the break by wing Olly Woodburn and flanker Don Armand, plus two more penalties and two more conversions, one by Gareth Steenson, completed Exeter's convincing win.

Alex Tait claimed a consolation try for Newcastle but for the Falcons, coached by ex-England No 8 Dean Richards, there was the consolation of knowing that this season had seen them make a huge climb up the table.

"I think in the first half we didn't do much defending and when that's the case you feel a bit fresher," said Exeter back-rower Thomas Waldrom.

"Big credit to the boys - we've worked hard all week and it showed in the result today."

Read more on:    saracens  |  owen farrell  |  rugby


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