Saracens 33-17 Ulster: Sarries’ ease into the quarter-final with commanding win
Saracens are through to the European Champions Cup quarter-finals with a game spare
They hosts eased to a commanding 33-17 victory over Ulster at Allianz Park
Sarries’ Owen Farrell produced a man of the match performance
Saracens romped to a 33-17 bonus-point to dispatch of Ulster and book their place in the Champions Cup play-off stage.
Luke Marshall’s neat early score had put the visitors ahead before Billy Vunipola crossed from a rolling maul to give the reigning Premiership champions a narrow half-time lead.
The Pool leaders then cut loose after the break though, with Duncan Taylor edging Sarries’ in front before forwards Maro Itoje and Schalk Brits got in on the act.
As Pool One winners, Saracens will be at home in the last eight.
Saracens started the better with Farrell opening the score from the tee but it was the visitors who opened the try scoring after just four minutes. Luke Marshall collected Jared Payne’s kick to dive over for the opening try before Paddy Jackson’s successful conversion made it 3-7.
Farrell kicked another penalty to reduce the deficit to a single point before Vunipola scored forced the ball down following a rolling maul. Farrell’s conversion then made it 13-7 at the interval.
Jackson’s penalty goal five minutes into the second half reduced Sarries lead to just three points but Farrell was on hand to knock over another penalty, 16-10.
The crucial score for Sarries came on 52 minutes, when Scotland international Taylor followed a Farrell break to stroll over. This time the England international couldn’t convert but the hosts were ahead by 11 with 25 minutes to play.
Itoje took the game further away from Ulster on the hour when he finished in the corner following dominant play in the forwards. And the points flurry continued minutes later when Schalk Brits broke from 20 metres out to score.
Farrell converted the latter score to make it 33-10, and though an Ian Humphreys interception earned Ulster a consolation try, it was not enough to make Sarries sweat as the hosts strolled to their victory in the closing stages.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Saracens: Owen Farrell
Sarries’ Farrell produced a man of the match performance, kicking two conversions and three penalties and having a hand in much of the hosts’ attacking play.
Saracens: 15 Ben Ransom, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Marcelo Bosch, 12 Brad Barritt, 11 Chris Wyles, 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Richard Wigglesworth, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Will Fraser, 6 Michael Rhodes, 5 George Kruis, 4 Maro Itoje, 3 Petrus du Plessis, 2 Jamie George, 1 Mako Vunipola
Replacements: 16 Schalk Brits, 17 Richard Barrington, 18 Juan Figallo, 19 Jim Hamilton, 20 Jackson Wray, 21 Neil de Kock, 22 Charlie Hodgson, 23 Duncan Taylor
Ulster: 15 Jared Payne, 14 Andrew Trimble, 13 Luke Marshall, 12 Stuart McCloskey, 11 Craig Gilroy, 10 Paddy Jackson, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Roger Wilson, 7 Sean Reidy, 6 Robbie Diack, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Alan O’Connor, 3 Wiehahn Herbst, 2 Rory Best, 1 Kyle McCall
Replacements: 16 Rob Herring, 17 Callum Black, 18 Ricky Lutton, 19 Lewis Stevenson, 20 Clive Ross, 21 Paul Marshall, 22 Ian Humphreys, 23 Rory Scholes
Date: Saturday, January 16
Venue: Allianz Park
Kick-off: 15:15 GMT
Referee: Jérôme Garcès (France)
Assistant Referees: Mathieu Raynal (France), Mathieu Noirot (France)
TMO: Gilles Cogne (France)