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Match Report: London Irish 14 Saracens 51

29 Apr 2018
Match Report: London Irish 14 Saracens 51

Saracens ran in five unanswered second-half tries as they sealed a home semi-final with a comfortable 51-14 triumph against London Irish at the Madejski Stadium.

Irish, whose relegation was confirmed on Saturday, kept in touch with the visitors during a tight first half thanks to tries from Joe Cokanasiga and Johnny Williams.

Those scores came after Brad Barritt and Duncan Taylor had already crossed to give Saracens the lead, with Owen Farrell adding two penalties as they went into the break 16-14 ahead.

However, the Irish resistance buckled in the second half as Mike Rhodes and Marcelo Bosch touched down for the bonus point, before further tries from Richard Barrington, Alex Goode and Schalk Brits added gloss to the final result.

It wasn’t until the 17th minute that Saracens got their first points on the scoreboard when Farrell slotted a penalty after the visitors were unable to make the most of an advantage.

Saracens continued to pile on the pressure and it eventually paid off when Barritt dotted down the first try of the afternoon, finding a way past Irish’s resilient defence.

Liam Williams raced down the right wing and attempted to find Taylor, but his pass popped up off an Irish player and Barritt pounced to collect the ball and dive over the whitewash.

The away side added a second try four minutes later when Farrell’s long looping pass found Taylor in space again and the outside centre strolled in for a simple score.

Irish were not going down without a fight, though, and they cut the deficit against the run of play as Bath-bound Cokanasiga finished off a four-on-one move, with Greig Tonks adding the extras.

A second Farrell penalty extended Saracens’ lead again, but the hosts hit back on the stroke of half time when Williams scored under the posts and Tonks converted.

With Saracens only two points ahead at the break, they came out firing at the start of the second half and quickly had their third try as Rhodes crashed over from a rolling maul.

The bonus-point try soon followed as Marcelo Bosch joined a driving maul and flopped over the line, before Farrell added a further two points with a precision kick.

Mark McCall’s side then began to turn on the style in the final 20 minutes – after Blair Cowan saw yellow – as Barrington, Goode and Brits all crossed the whitewash.

Saracens are now guaranteed to finish second behind leaders Exeter Chiefs, with either Wasps or Newcastle Falcons set to be their opponents in the semi-finals.

They were also boosted by the return of Billy Vunipola, who came off the bench for his first match in three months after breaking his arm in a Champions Cup clash back in January.