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Rugby | Champions Cup

Chris Ashton © Gallo Images

Saracens set up Munster showdown



Saracens put on a masterclass of knockout rugby against Glasgow on Sunday as they won 38-8 to book a Champions Cup semifinal spot.

The victory sets up a mouth-watering clash with Munster at the Aviva Stadium as tries from Chris Ashton (2), Marcelo Bosch and Brad Barritt scored their tries. Owen Farrell was man-of-the-match after an 18-point haul.

Mark McCall’s men were outstanding before the break, opening up an 11-point buffer through Ashton’s first try and three Farrell penalties.

Finn Russell did get the Scottish outfit on the scoreboard in the first-half and Lee Jones’ effort reduced the arrears seven minutes into the second period, but Sarries were ultimately too strong.

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Bosch ended the game as a contest with a score 20 minutes from time before Barritt and Ashton rubber-stamped the win with a three-pointer, despite a late Ryan Wilson consolation.

Glasgow have come a long way under the stewardship of Gregor Townsend but they struggled to handle the sheer ferocity of the defending champions.

After making the quarterfinals for the first time, this proved to be a step too far, despite their battling qualities keeping the scoreline close in the early exchanges.

Sarries created opportunities at will in the opening 10 minutes and could have scored two tries when Ashton and Sean Maitland crossed the whitewash out wide.

However, following some excellent cover defence by the visitors, both were adjudged to be in touch and the Englishmen had to be content with a single Farrell penalty.

The Warriors’ rearguard excellence was then rewarded with a Russell three-pointer, but the pressure was unrelenting and successive efforts off the tee by the hosts’ stand-off took Saracens 9-3 in front.

Townsend’s men were failing to stop the Premiership outfit on the gainline and they were finally breached after another flowing move.

Forwards and backs combined before Barritt’s superb offload found Ashton and the Toulon-bound wing did the rest, weaving inside one attempted tackle and touching down.

Farrell’s missed conversion meant that the damage was not quite as severe as it could have been at the interval, but their head coach required a response in the second period.

It was one he duly received. Russell almost scampered away after a rare Sarries’ error but they were not to be denied for long as the fly-half’s cross-field kick was collected by Jones, who handed off Ashton and went over.

Glasgow knew that there would be a response from the home side and once again they failed to cope. To their credit, the Warriors were gallant in defence but they had to break at some point and Bosch took advantage when the hole opened for him.

Farrell then made it a three-score game from the tee and it was the lead Saracens needed to open up. They displayed some wonderful hands in the last few minutes and deservedly touched down twice more via Barritt and Ashton to complete a fine performance.

Townsend’s side did have the final word through Wilson but it was very much Sarries’ day.

SCORERS:

Saracens: Tries: Ashton 2, Bosch, Barritt Cons: Farrell 3 Pens: Farrell 4

Glasgow: Tries: Jones, Wilson Pen: Russell



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