Planet Rugby

Saracens power past Ulster

06th April 2013 20:19

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Chris Ashton of Saracens

Impressive: Saracens

Saracens will take on either Toulon or Leicester in the Heineken Cup semi-finals after overcoming Ulster 27-16 in an impressive showing on Saturday.

It was an English victory built on solid defence as they displayed hunger and intelligence that in truth meant Ulster rarely threatened the whitewash until the dying embers of matters at Twickenham.

Despite coming off second best at scrum-time, Saracens were dominant in the maul and also sucked the life out of Ulster in open play as last year's finalists struggled to penetrate the wall.

Man-of-the-match was flanker Will Fraser but that prize could have gone in several directions as Steve Borthwick and Brad Barritt also shone.

Tries from Fraser and Chris Ashton added to a near-perfect day at the office for Owen Farrell to put paid to any hopes that Ulster may have had of booking a semi-final spot at the Aviva Stadium.

A tight opening saw little in the way of genuine scoring opportunities, but Farrell put Saracens on the scoreboard with a third minute penalty.

Ulster's poor kicking percentage was laid bare for all to see, as Springbok Ruan Pienaar missed two penalties before slotting his first successful kick just before the half hour.

Further penalties were traded between the sides, and at 6-6, Fraser scored the first try of the game, driving over, for the score to be awarded after referee Romain Poite went to the TMO for clarification of the score. With Farrell adding the conversion, the home side entered half-time 16-6 up, having ruthlessly taken advantage of an Ulster indiscretion.

Two more Farrell penalties, with one more for Pienaar came before Ashton added the second try for Saracens, taking the ball wide past the Ulster defensive cover, to stretch the lead to 27-9 as the game entered the final quarter. It was now a long road back for Ulster.

The game ended as Iain Henderson rounded off a great move which saw his side work the ball from one half to the other, forcing his way over after great hands along his back line.

Pienaar's conversion was the last play of the game, which now sees Saracens return to Twickenham for their semi-final match against Toulon or Leicester later in the month.

The scorers:

For Saracens:
Tries: Fraser, Ashton
Con: Farrell
Pen: Farrell 5

For Ulster:
Try: Henderson
Con: Pienaar
Pen: Pienaar 3

Saracens: 15 Alex Goode, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Joel Tomkins, 12 Brad Barritt, 11 David Strettle, 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Richard Wigglesworth, 8 Ernst Joubert, 7 Will Fraser, 6 Kelly Brown, 5 Alistair Hargreaves, 4 Steve Borthwick (c) 3 Matt Stevens, 2 Schalk Brits, 1 Mako Vunipola.
Replacements: 16 John Smit, 17 Rhys Gill, 18 Petrus du Plessis, 19 Mouritz Botha, 20 Jackson Wray, 21 Neil de Kock, 22 Charlie Hodgson, 23 Chris Wyles.

Ulster: 15 Jared Payne, 14 Andrew Trimble, 13 Darren Cave, 12 Luke Marshall, 11 Craig Gilroy, 10 Paddy Jackson, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Nick Williams, 7 Chris Henry, 6 Iain Henderson, 5 Dan Tuohy, 4 Johann Muller (c), 3 John Afoa, 2 Rory Best, 1 Tom Court.
Replacements: 16 Rob Herring, 17 Callum Black, 18 Ricky Lutton, 19 Robbie Diack, 20 Roger Wilson, 21 Paul Marshall, 22 Stuart Olding, 23 Tommy Bowe.

Referee: Romain Poite (France)
Assistant referees: Leighton Hodges (Wales), Cédric Marchat (France)

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