European Rugby Champions Cup: Saracens 38-13 Glasgow Warriors

By Tom EnglishBBC Scotland
Chris Ashton
Chris Ashton touched down twice to see Saracens through at Allianz Park
European Champions Cup
Saracens (14) 38
Tries: Ashton 2, Bosch, Barritt Cons: Farrell 3 Pens: Farrell 4
Glasgow (3) 13
Tries: Jones, Wilson Pens: Russell

Defending champions Saracens eased past Glasgow Warriors to set up a European Champions Cup semi-final with Munster.

Owen Farrell penalties and a powerfully finished try from Chris Ashton put the London club 14-3 up at the interval.

Warriors - in their first European quarter-final - hit back as Lee Jones finished from a fine Finn Russell kick.

But Marcelo Bosch and Brad Barritt went over before Ashton scored to move level with Vincent Clerc as the all-time leading try scorer in the competition.

His 36th European try comfortably booked Saracens a semi-final spot for the fifth-straight year and they began like champions, owning the ball, bossing the match, pinning Glasgow in their own 22 and threatening to score with every attack. Glasgow were under the cosh, hanging on for grim life.

The first of the near things came after just two minutes when Zander Fagerson was ransacked by Jim Hamilton in the Glasgow half. Saracens worked their way downfield, spun it wide to Ashton and only the scrambling Jones snuffed out the danger, the wing just about putting his opposite number into touch.

Four minutes later the black waves washed over Glasgow again. Again it had its origins in a Glasgow error - Henry Pyrgos missing touch - and again they had to rely on last-ditch defending to keep Saracens out, Tommy Seymour doing the job on Sean Maitland this time.

Brad Barritt scores
Brad Barritt crossed as Saracens moved clear in the closing quarter

Farrell knocked over a penalty soon after, a scant return on their possession. For Glasgow, there was the desperate blow of Jonny Gray's injury, a loss that meant they were now without their two main hitters in the second-row having also had to do without the suspended Tim Swinson.

They dragged themselves level through a Russell penalty, then fell behind again with another for Farrell. Saracens got the reward that their possession demanded when Ashton went over in the corner, the arch-finisher at it again.

Farrell's missed conversion kept it at 14-3 to the break. Glasgow had not existed as an attacking force, but they stirred after the restart and manufactured a score out of nothing. Russell's crossfield kick was fielded by Jones who beat Alex Goode, handed-off Ashton and ran on to score. Russell's conversion hit an upright, but, still, they had precious momentum at last.

They had it - and then they lost it. Glasgow became ragged, ruinously missing a simple kick to touch and inviting Saracens back on to them. The heavyweights took advantage as true heavyweights do. Schalk Brits launched the first attack, then Ali Price did brilliantly to scamper after and haul down a Richard Wigglesworth breakaway. But the Glasgow dam burst open just after and in Saracens flowed, Bosch driving through two tacklers and stepping around Price to score. Farrell's conversion made it 21-8. Too good.

The fly-half added a penalty as Saracens carried on pounding away at the Glasgow line. Later still there was another Saracens try that began when they won a strike against the head in the scrum. The visitors were out on their feet now. Saracens went right, then cut back and went left, Barritt finishing it off. Farrell made it 31-8 with the boot.

A fourth try came as Saracens drove the stake deeper. Glasgow's messed up at a lineout and they were made to pay. The hosts went at them, worked an overlap against a jaded team and Ashton got his second of the day. Farrell's conversion was good.

Ryan Wilson got a consolation at the death, but there was a gulf between these teams. Saracens controlled this quarter-final from the first minutes and got their rewards towards the end. Glasgow did well to make the knockouts for the first time in their history, but there's no mercy in the last eight. Life is brutal among the elite.

Analysis - Sarries bank on experience

Former England hooker Brian Moore was glowing in his analysis of Saracens' display
Former England hooker Brian Moore was glowing in his analysis of Saracens' display

Jeremy Guscott on BBC Radio 5 live Sports Extra: "Glasgow have shown their class by not giving up and they know now how much they have to do if they want to make their first semi-final.

"The experience of winning before helps Saracens. Glasgow didn't have an answer for the added impetus of the Saracens subs."

Saracens fly-half Owen Farrell: "We have got some great line-runners here that are going to hold people in. When people are running lines like we had today then there are always going to be opportunities."

Glasgow scrum-half Henry Pyrgos: "Saracens were quality today. We were in the game for 60 minutes but they were ruthless in the last 20. We had a lot of confidence and were in the game but a couple of mistakes which Saracens punished took it away from us.

"This is the start for us as a club, the first time in the knock-outs and we want to be here again next year."

Saracens: Goode, Ashton, Bosch, Barritt, Maitland, Farrell, Wigglesworth, M. Vunipola, George, Figallo, Itoje, Hamilton, Rhodes, Wray, B. Vunipola.

Replacements: Brits, Lamositele, Koch, Brown, Conlon, de Kock, Lozowski, D. Taylor.

Glasgow: Hogg, Seymour, Dunbar, P. Horne, L. Jones, Russell, Pyrgos, Reid, Brown, Fagerson, Alainu-uese, Gray, Harley, Wilson, Ashe.

Replacements: Flynn, Allan, Puafisi, Peterson, Fusaro, Price, Grigg, Hughes.

Referee: Jerome Garces (France)

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