Leeds Tykes managed a comfortable 27-13 win over Saracens in the second leg of their Zurich Wildcard semi-final at Headingley on Sunday, but the 14-point winning margin was not enough to see them through to the final.
Saracens, who took a huge 36-point lead into Sunday's return leg, go through to the final with a 22-point aggregate winning margin – after having thumped the Yorkshire outfit by 57-21 at Vicarage Road in the first leg on Wednesday.
Leeds managed to outscore Sarries by four tries to one on Sunday, but as was the case on Wednesday – when Saracens ran in six tries – the boot of fly-half Andy Goode made sure his team always kept the 36-point margin out of reach.
This time round he only scored eight points – a conversion and two penalties – but they came at crucial stages of the game.
In fact Goode opened the scoring at Headingley on Sunday, with a first minute penalty – which meant that Leeds were suddenly 39 points behind on aggregate.
Leeds fly-half Gordon Ross managed to bring it back to just 36 points in the third minute, when he made the score 3-all on the day with a penalty.
But for the next 25 minutes Saracens managed to keep the home team at bay and their next score was only in the 28th minute, when Dan Scarbrough scored the first try of the match. Ross failed to add the conversion and his team still needed another 31 points – despite an 8-3 lead on the day.
Saracens were the next to score, when hooker Matthew Cairns went over in the 41st minute. Goode added the conversion and the visitors were leading 10-8 – with an aggregate margin of 38 points.
Leeds came out after the break determined to close the gap, but it was also clear that Saracens knew the almost a point per minute needed by the opposition were always going to be too much.
Lock Chris Murphy scored for Leeds in the 55th minute and this time Ross added the conversion, but his team still needed 31 points, despite their 15-10 lead.
When No.8 Alix Popham scored in the 67th minute and flank Cameron Mather went over three minutes later – Ross converted just one of those tries – there was a glimmer of hope that the home team could still close the gap.
Saracens were clearly holding back somewhat and Leeds now needed just 19 points.
But it was Goode who closed out the match for his team with a penalty five minutes from time, to ensure that Leeds needed more than three converted tries to win on aggregate.
Saracens, who narrowly missed out on a spot in this year's Parker Pen Challenge Cup Final, now have another shot at a place in the Heineken Cup if they can win the Final at Franklin’s Gardens on May 31.
Leeds Tykes, who finished fifth in the Zurich Premiership, can still qualify for the Heineken Cup should Wasps win the Parker Pen Challenge Cup next Sunday, May 25.
For Leeds:Tries: Murphy, Scarbrough, Popham, Mather Cons: Ross 2Pen: Ross
For Saracens: Try: CairnsCon: GoodePens: Goode 2