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Aviva Premiership Rugby European round-up: Saracens book fifth-straight semi-final

Saracens head coach Mark McCall is relishing the thought of a Champions Cup semi-final against Munster, after his charges swept aside Glasgow Warriors to win 38-13 on Sunday.

Three times the Aviva Premiership Rugby champions saw tries ruled out by the TMO in the first half, but they still led 14-3 at the interval thanks to three penalties from man-of-the-match Owen Farrell and a Chris Ashton try.

And while the Warriors threatened a comeback when Lee Jones crossed early in the second period, scores from Marcelo Bosch, Brad Barritt and Ashton again saw the Wolfpack streak clear and reach their fifth straight European semi-final.

“The only issue at half time was that the dominance and the good play that we’d had wasn’t really reflected on the scoreboard,” said McCall.

“I think we did really well in the second half to not get impatient. We just kept on doing the right things to pull away.

“It’s going to be a very special day [against Munster]. There’s going to be 50,000 Munster fans, we all know there’s an emotional element to this game, and making sure that we’re able to cope with that when it comes along is going to be one of our tasks in the next few weeks.”

Wasps however did not fare so well in the Champions Cup quarter-finals, with a slow start costing them dear in Dublin where they went down 32-17 to three-time European champions Leinster.

Isa Nacewa, Jack Conan and Robbie Henshaw all scored before the interval for the hosts, and Wasps dismay was compounded when Willie Le Roux dropped the ball over the line in the act of responding.

And while Christian Wade and Jimmy Gopperth both caught the eye with superb individual efforts in an improved second-half showing, Fergus McFadden sealed the win for Leinster, and Dai Young admitted his charges were overcome by the occasion.

“We looked like rabbits in the headlights in that first half and the biggest disappointment is we didn’t do ourselves justice,” he said.

“We’ve got to make sure this doesn’t affect our league performance. Obviously we played against a good team, and people keep on saying you learn from losses, and I hope that we do.

“The proof will be in the pudding moving forward, you are going to lose games of rugby, that happens, but for us the massive disappointment was that we didn’t play like we can.”

Meanwhile both Gloucester Rugby and Bath Rugby advanced to the semi-finals of the Challenge Cup on Saturday with superb performances to fend off Cardiff Blues and Brive respectively.

The Cherry & Whites came through a topsy-turvy encounter with their west-of-the-border Welsh rivals, trailing 23-20 after an absorbing first half despite tries from Ross Moriarty and Tom Marshall.

But they turned on the style after the interval with Jonny May, the returning Mark Atkinson and Henry Purdy all getting on the scoresheet while Marshall added his second.

“Cup rugby is all about the result. I thought large parts of the performance were very good, especially on the back of Cardiff’s performance last week,” said director of rugby David Humphreys.

“In the first half we kicked a little bit loosely, Matthew Morgan posed us a couple of problems but we got to half-time and took control in the second half.

“You’re always trying to find solutions to the problems, but our decision-making on the pitch really managed that in the second half and we took the opportunities that we created.”

And Bath shrugged off a humbling Aviva Premiership Rugby defeat to Saracens last weekend to halt a Brive fight-back and win 34-20.

Taulupe Faletau and Semesa Rokoduguni were the stars of the show as they scored two tries each in the win, while Tom Homer also crossed.

But after two quick-fire tries for Fabien Sanconnie had brought Brive back, director of rugby Todd Blackadder was thrilled with the character his side showed ahead of a big week for the club – with The Clash at Twickenham on the horizon next weekend.

He said: “They are always big weeks when you have got to turn things around really quickly. There were a lot of things to fix, but I feel we are definitely on the right track.

“Things needed to be addressed, and we just highlighted things. It wasn’t a case of baby out with the bath water, but our attack just hadn’t been functioning. We hadn’t been scoring tries, and there were reasons for that.

“We started out with plenty of intent, and I am pleased with the result, although we can be so much better than what we were in the second-half.”

Tickets to the Aviva Premiership Rugby Final is on 27 May at Twickenham are now on sale. If you want to have an unforgettable day out at club rugby’s best Cup Final then click here for tickets.

CHAMPIONS CUP

Saracens 38 Glasgow Warriors 13

Saracens 38

Tries: Ashton (2), Bosch, Barritt

Cons: Farrell (3)

Pens: Farrell (4)

Glasgow Warriors 13

Tries: Jones, Wilson

Pens: Russell

Referee: Jerome Garces

Attendance: 15,000

 

Leinster 32 Wasps 17

Leinster 32

Tries: Nacewa, Conan, Henshaw, McFadden

Cons: Sexton (3)

Pens: Sexton (2)

Wasps 17

Tries: Wade, Gopperth

Cons: Gopperth (2)

Pens: Gopperth

Referee: Nigel Owens

Attendance: 50,266

 

CHALLENGE CUP

Gloucester Rugby 46 Cardiff Blues 26

Gloucester Rugby 46

Tries: Moriarty, Marshall (2), May, Atkinson, Purdy

Cons: Burns, Twelvetrees (4)

Pens: Burns, Twelvetrees

Cardiff Blues 26

Tries: Cuthbert (2)

Cons: Shingler (2)

Pens: Shingler (3)

Drop-Goal: Anscombe

Referee: Pascal Gauzere (France)

Attendance: 11,206

 

Bath Rugby 34 Brive 20

Bath Rugby 34

Tries: Faletau (2), Homer, Rokoduguni (2)

Conversions: Priestland (3)

Penalties: Priestland

Brive 20

Tries: Sanconnie (2)

Conversions: Germain (2)

Penalties: Germain (2)

Referee: Marius Mitrea

Attendance: 11,677

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