Saracens scraped past Treviso 26-20 on Sunday, to book themselves a home quarter-final in the Heineken Cup.
Saracens scraped past Treviso 26-20 at the Stadio Comunale di Monigo on Sunday, to book themselves a home quarter-final the Heineken Cup.
Saracens needed to take home just one point from their visit to Italy, but were made to work overtime for their win with things not quite going according to the script.
The hosts – unbeaten at home this season in the Heineken Cup – led 17-13 at half-time, outscoring the Aviva Premiership champions two tries to one thanks to number eight Robert Barbieri and wing Tommaso Iannone crossing the whitewash.
Treviso pivot Kristopher Burton added the two conversions as well as a drop-goal in the first forty minutes, while Saracens kept themselves afloat through a try by lock Mouritz Botha in with Owen Farrell contributing the rest of his sides points from the boot to trail by four at the break.
And with Biarritz dominating proceedings against Ospreys in the other Pool 5 clash, Saracens were at risk of bowing out of the tournament if the French side bagged five points and Treviso denied their visitors any points at all.
However, Saracens made the best start possible in the second half after Botha charged down a Treviso clearance that allowed wing David Strettle to collect and weave his way through for a vital score converted by Farrell to put the visitors in front (20-17).
Burton levelled the scores with his first penalty shot, but Farrell found his target once more for a three-point lead that he later doubled with his fourth successful penalty kick of the match.
Treviso pushed hard for the remainder of a tense encounter, but Sarries managed to hang on by the skin of their teeth for the winning result.
Tries: Barbieri, Iannone
Cons: Burton 2
Tries: Botha, Strettle
Cons: Farrell 2
Pens: Farrell 4
Treviso: 15 Ludovico Nitoglia, 14 Tommaso Iannone, 13 Tommaso Benvenuti, 12 Alberto Sgarbi, 11 Brendan Williams, 10 Kristopher Burton, 9 Tobias Botes, 8 Robert Barbieri, 7 Alessandro Zanni, 6 Benjamin Vermaak, 5 Cornelius van Zyl, 4 Antonio Pavanello, 3 Lorenzo Cittadini, 2 Leonardo Ghiraldini, 1 Michele Rizzo.
Replacements: 16 Enrico Ceccato, 17 Matteo Muccignat, 18 Augusto Allori, 19 Valerio Bernabo, 20 Gonzalo PadrÃ², 21 Marco Filippucci, 22 Fabio Semenzato, 23 Alberto Di Bernardo.
Saracens: 15 Alex Goode, 14 David Strettle, 13 Owen Farrell, 12 Brad Barritt, 11 James Short, 10 Charlie Hodgson, 9 Peter Stringer, 8 Jackson Wray, 7 Andy Saull, 6 Kelly Brown, 5 Mouritz Botha, 4 Steve Borthwick, 3 Carlos Nieto, 2 John Smit, 1 Matt Stevens.
Replacements: 16 Jamie George, 17 Rhys Gill, 18 Petrus du Plessis, 19 Hayden Smith, 20 Justin Melck, 21 Ben Spencer, 22 Chris Wyles, 23 Duncan Taylor.
Referee: Alain Rolland (Ireland)