Planet Rugby

Payne sees red as Saracens win

05th April 2014 20:31

Share:

Saracens wing Chris Ashton after scoring his second try in Heineken Cup quarter final

Two tries: Chris Ashton

A fourth-minute red card for full-back Jared Payne helped Saracens book their spot in the Heineken Cup semis as they beat Ulster 17-15 on Saturday.

The result means Saracens will face Clermont in the last-four at Twickenham, with Ulster, who were top seeds, having pushed them all the way.

A double from Chris Ashton and a try from Mouritz Botha saw an intensely physical Saracens storm the Ravenhil fortress.

The hosts responded with kicks from Ruan Pienaar and Irish international Paddy Jackson, but could not quite close the deal.

It was a spirited and courageous effort from the fourteen men, but ultimately Sarries' greater numbers proved decisive. How different this result might have been was it not for a piece of careless indiscipline.

The game got off to a frenetic start, with both teams charging into each other with a shuddering intensity. Farrell had a golden chance to establish a lead for his side on two minutes, but missed the effort.

The physicality of the opening minutes was only halted when Alex Goode sustained what looked like a nasty injury, following a collision with Payne that saw the English full-back taken out in the air. The Ulster full-back was red-carded for his recklessness, giving Sarries a decided advantage.

It was an ugly challenge, and one that seemed to have dire implications for Ulster's chances.

Ulster battled on valiantly thereafter, but were clearly hamstrung by their numerical disadvantage. That said the Irish side's resistance was remarkable in the circumstances.

Incredibly, the game was still scoreless after fifteen minutes. It was at that point that talisman Pienaar gave his side an unlikely lead to make it 3-0.

And the South African scrum-half had a gilt-edged chance to increase the lead a couple of minutes later, but was off-kilter with the kick.

But the extra man was always going to count at some stage, and following a powerful Sarries scrum, Ashton sliced through a gaping hole in the Ulster defence to dive over for a well-taken try. Farrell again was off target with the kick to leave it 5-3.

The momentum was irrefutably with the Premiership side at this stage, albeit with the hosts hanging in really well. Following a sublimely executed rolling maul on 28 minutes, Saracens inevitably conceded a penalty with the home pack just yards from the line. This time, Pienaar made no mistake with the three points to restore Ulster's lead to 5-6.

Ulster's playmaker had another opportunity 37 minutes with a long range effort from way over the halfway line, but it fell just short. But he made amends on the cusp of half time when he slotted another penalty to make it 5-9 to the Ravenhill men.

It was a truly absorbing half of rugby, packed with incident and bone crunching ferocity. Saracens seemed a little off colour during the first period it has to be said, but given their travails, Ulster would have been delighted with their slender lead.

At the start of the second-half, it was very much game on. But Saracens' additional numbers again proved telling on 48 minutes when Botha finished off some slick handling, following a period of concerted Sarries' pressure. Farrell, who was having an evening to forget, again couldn't add the extra points, making it 10-9 to the Englishmen.

Jackson had a good chance to restore Ulster's advantage on 51 minutes, but his kick hit the uprights.

Farrell's jitters continued, however, to leave it a one point ball game. But the visitors were beginning to turn the screw determinedly at this stage, and with Ulster severely depleted, they assuredly scented blood. Thus, with the visitors camped in the home 22, Ulster eventually conceded a penalty on 67 minutes.

From the ensuing advantage, Farrell launched a beautiful cross-field kick that a grateful and unmarked Ashton touched down. Farrell made no mistake with the conversion on this occasion to make it 17-9 to the Premiership outfit.

Given the undoubted dominance of his side, the try had an air of inevitability about it. But the hosts remained stubbornly defiant, and Jackson reduced the deficit on 70 minutes with a sweetly-struck kick.

The Irish fly-half narrowed the gap even further two minutes later to an incredible two points to make it 17-15.

Ulster courageously battered the Sarries' rearguard in the last few minutes. It was brave and committed stuff, but this was destined to be Saracens' day. How different it might have been if Ulster had retained fifteen players on the pitch. For a delighted Saracens, it's onwards and upwards.

The scorers:

For Ulster:
Pen: Pienaar 3, Jackson 2

For Saracens:
Tries: Ashton 2, Botha
Con: Farrell

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

Saracens: 15 Alex Goode, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Duncan Taylor, 12 Brad Barritt, 11 David Strettle, 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Richard Wigglesworth, 8 Ernst Joubert, 7 Jacques Burger, 6 Billy Vunipola, 5 Mouritz Botha, 4 Steve Borthwick (c), 3 James Johnston, 2 Schalk Brits, 1 Mako Vunipola.
Replacements: 16 Jamie George, 17 Richard Barrington, 18 Matt Stevens, 19 Eoin Sheriff, 20 Kelly Brown, 21 Neil de Kock, 22 Charlie Hodgson, 23 Chris Wyles.

Referee: Jérôme Garcès (France)
Assistant referees: Mathieu Raynal (France), Cédric Marchat (France)
TMO: Eric Gauzins (France)

By Rory McGimpsey
@RoryMcGimpsey

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
European Rugby Champions Cup
Friday , October 24
Munster vs SaracensMunster vs Saracens Preview
Saturday , October 25
Ulster vs ToulonUlster vs Toulon Preview
Scarlets vs LeicesterScarlets vs Leicester Preview
Bath vs ToulouseBath vs Toulouse Preview
Montpellier vs GlasgowMontpellier vs Glasgow Preview
Northampton vs OspreysNorthampton vs Ospreys Preview
Sunday , October 26
Clermont Auvergne vs Sale SharksClermont Auvergne vs Sale Sharks Preview
Castres vs LeinsterCastres vs Leinster Preview
Wasps vs HarlequinsWasps vs Harlequins Preview
Benetton Treviso vs Racing Metro 92Benetton Treviso vs Racing Metro 92 Preview
More European Rugby Champions Cup fixtures
European Rugby Challenge Cup
Friday , October 24
La Rochelle vs Bayonne18:30
Brive vs Zebre18:30
Grenoble vs London IrishGrenoble vs London Irish Preview
Newport Gwent D'gons vs Newcastle19:30
Edinburgh vs LOU Rugby19:45
Saturday , October 25
Bucuresti vs Stade Francais14:00
Rovigo vs Cardiff Blues14:00
Exeter vs ConnachtExeter vs Connacht Preview
Oyonnax vs Gloucester19:45
More European Rugby Challenge Cup fixtures
Currie Cup
Saturday , October 25
Western Province vs LionsWestern Province vs Lions Preview
More Currie Cup fixtures
ITM Cup
Saturday , October 25
Taranaki vs TasmanTaranaki vs Tasman Preview
More ITM Cup fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
European Rugby Challenge Cup
Thursday , October 23
London Welsh 20 - 52 Bordeaux-BeglesLondon Welsh vs Bordeaux-Begles Report
More European Rugby Challenge Cup results
European Rugby Champions Cup
Sunday , October 19
Ospreys 42 - 7 Benetton TrevisoOspreys vs Benetton Treviso Report
Toulouse 30 - 23 MontpellierToulouse vs Montpellier Report
Toulon 28 - 18 ScarletsToulon vs Scarlets Report
Leinster 25 - 20 WaspsLeinster vs Wasps Report
More European Rugby Champions Cup results
European Rugby Challenge Cup
London Irish 70 - 14 RovigoLondon Irish vs Rovigo Report
More European Rugby Challenge Cup results
International Match
Saturday , October 18
Australia 28 - 29 New ZealandAustralia vs New Zealand Report
More International Match results
European Rugby Champions Cup
Sale Sharks 26 - 27 MunsterSale Sharks vs Munster Report
Saracens 30 - 23 Clermont AuvergneSaracens vs Clermont Auvergne Report
Racing Metro 92 20 - 11 NorthamptonRacing Metro 92 vs Northampton Report
Glasgow 37 - 10 BathGlasgow vs Bath Report
Leicester 25 - 18 UlsterLeicester vs Ulster Report
More European Rugby Champions Cup results
European Rugby Challenge Cup
LOU Rugby 28 - 18 London WelshLOU Rugby vs London Welsh Report
Zebre 24 - 33 Oyonnax
Cardiff Blues 37 - 14 Grenoble
Stade Francais 22 - 38 Newport Gwent D'gons
Bayonne 30 - 24 Exeter
Connacht 48 - 12 La Rochelle
More European Rugby Challenge Cup results
Currie Cup
Lions 50 - 20 SharksLions vs Sharks Report
Western Province 31 - 23 Blue BullsWestern Province vs Blue Bulls Report
More Currie Cup results
ITM Cup
Taranaki 49 - 30 AucklandTaranaki vs Auckland Report
Manawatu 23 - 18 Southland
Tasman 26 - 6 CanterburyTasman vs Canterbury Report
More ITM Cup results
European Rugby Champions Cup
Friday , October 17
Harlequins 25 - 9 CastresHarlequins vs Castres Report
More European Rugby Champions Cup results
European Rugby Challenge Cup
Bordeaux-Begles 13 - 15 EdinburghBordeaux-Begles vs Edinburgh Report
More European Rugby Challenge Cup results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Northampton625
2Saracens622
3Exeter620
4Bath620
5Wasps615