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
Aviva Premiership
Friday , September 5
Northampton vs Gloucester19:45
Saturday , September 6
Saracens vs Wasps14:00
Sale vs Bath14:00
Leicester vs Newcastle15:00
London Irish vs Harlequins16:30
Sunday , September 7
London Welsh vs Exeter14:00
More Aviva Premiership fixtures
Rugby Championship
Saturday , September 6
New Zealand vs Argentina08:35
Australia vs South Africa11:05
More Rugby Championship fixtures
Guinness PRO12
Friday , September 5
Ospreys vs Benetton Treviso19:35
Munster vs Edinburgh19:35
Saturday , September 6
Scarlets vs Ulster14:40
Connacht vs Newport Gwent D'gons17:00
Glasgow vs Leinster17:15
Sunday , September 7
Zebre vs Cardiff Blues17:00
More Guinness PRO12 fixtures
Top 14
Friday , September 5
Montpellier vs Castres20:45
Saturday , September 6
Brive vs Toulouse14:45
Clermont Auvergne vs Racing Metro Paris17:00
Lyon vs Oyonnax18:30
Stade Francais vs Bayonne18:30
Grenoble vs La Rochelle18:30
Toulon vs Bordeaux-Begles20:45
More Top 14 fixtures
Currie Cup
Friday , September 5
Western Province vs Eastern Province Kings19:10
Saturday , September 6
Cheetahs vs Pumas15:00
Sharks vs Griquas17:05
Blue Bulls vs Lions19:10
More Currie Cup fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
ITM Cup
Sunday , August 31
Taranaki 41 - 3 Bay Of PlentyTaranaki vs Bay Of Plenty Report
Auckland 16 - 16 TasmanAuckland vs Tasman Report
More ITM Cup results
Top 14
Saturday , August 30
La Rochelle 37 - 25 ToulouseLa Rochelle vs Toulouse Report
Grenoble 37 - 23 Bordeaux-Begles
Oyonnax 33 - 6 Stade Francais
Castres 30 - 6 BayonneCastres vs Bayonne Report
Racing Metro Paris 17 - 10 ToulonRacing Metro Paris vs Toulon Report
Lyon 24 - 6 Brive
More Top 14 results
Currie Cup
Griquas 25 - 36 CheetahsGriquas vs Cheetahs Report
Eastern Province Kings 22 - 41 LionsEastern Province Kings vs Lions Report
Blue Bulls 18 - 23 Western ProvinceBlue Bulls vs Western Province Report
More Currie Cup results
ITM Cup
Counties Manukau 21 - 27 Hawkes BayCounties Manukau vs Hawkes Bay Report
Southland 22 - 33 Otago
North Harbour 16 - 22 WaikatoNorth Harbour vs Waikato Report
More ITM Cup results
Top 14
Friday , August 29
Clermont Auvergne 20 - 21 MontpellierClermont Auvergne vs Montpellier Report
More Top 14 results
Currie Cup
Pumas 32 - 22 SharksPumas vs Sharks Report
More Currie Cup results
ITM Cup
Wellington 21 - 27 ManawatuWellington vs Manawatu Report
Thursday , August 28
Canterbury 48 - 3 NorthlandCanterbury vs Northland Report
Wednesday, August 27
Waikato 17 - 46 TaranakiWaikato vs Taranaki Report
Sunday , August 24
Manawatu 7 - 35 AucklandManawatu vs Auckland Report
Bay Of Plenty 27 - 56 TasmanBay Of Plenty vs Tasman Report
More ITM Cup results
Rugby Championship
Saturday , August 23
New Zealand 51 - 20 AustraliaNew Zealand vs Australia Report
Argentina 31 - 33 South AfricaArgentina vs South Africa Report
More Rugby Championship results
Top 14
Brive 6 - 21 Clermont AuvergneBrive vs Clermont Auvergne Report
Bayonne 38 - 12 Oyonnax
More Top 14 results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Bath00
2Exeter00
3Gloucester00
4Harlequins00
5Leicester Tigers00