Champions Cup: Saracens steamroller their way into the semi-final over hapless Glasgow
- Credit: Picture: DANNY LOO
The road to the 2019 Heineken Champions Cup final in Newcastle will have one final stop for the Saracens juggernaut after a comprehensive 56-27 win over Glasgow Warriors.
That stop will be the Ricoh Arena in Coventry for a semi-final with Munster after the seven-try success at a pleasantly-warm Allianz Park.
Liam Williams and David Strettle got two each while Brad Barritt, Jamie George and Nick Tompkins got the others. Alex Lozowski converted six of them and kicked three penalties.
It was a typical performance from the Men in Black, displaying all the usual hallmarks that you have come to expect from the two-times winners of the trophy.
They even did it without England captain Owen Farrell who dropped out of the squad when his wife went into labour.
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It meant a reshuffle in the backs with Alex Goode going to fly-half and Liam Williams in at 15.
That meant a place on the bench for former Old Albanian Max Malins, joining St Albans’ Nick Isiekwe.
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The late change could not even be blamed for the opening score, which arrived after just 68 seconds, as Saracens had barely touched it by that point.
It was a move full of strong and fast running that was finished off by Matt Fagerson and converted by Adam Hastings.
It had the huge numbers of the boisterous Glasgow fans off their feet and cheering like mad.
But that was as good as it got for the next 30 minutes as Saracens did what they do every week, simply grind teams down.
They were level on five minutes thanks to chip forward by Goode and Williams finished it off with a trademark leap and catch.
Alex Lozowski slotted the conversion and then a penalty and after the Glasgow defence were required to put in strength-sapping tackle after strength-sapping tackle, Strettle went over in the far corner.
As if to prove that the Warriors were floundering at this point the kick-off went straight into touch and after a scrum on halfway the ball was move forward with Barritt finishing things off and Lozowski moving the lead to 15.
But the hordes of Scottish fans were given something else to cheer about in the closing stages of the half at least as Hastings landed two penalties and frantic, last-ditch tackling kept Glasgow out as the clock ticked down.
They should have really scored from that move and that will hurt, especially as they barely got a look-in after the break.
Lozowski kicked a penalty, Glasgow again being caught offside, and then came the fourth try, made by man-of-the-match George.
The Welwyn Garden City-born hooker may well be auditioning for a role in the backs as he certainly wasn’t loitering out on the right wing, hitting the line with pace Strettle and Sean Maitland would have been proud of.
He was only stopped at the second attempt but it didn’t matter as Williams was in support to shrug off the tackle and grab his second.
All that was inside the opening 10 minutes of the second period but if Glasgow thought that was it, they were hugely mistaken as another 10 points were added in the next 10 minutes too.
Lozowski kicked three and then a conversion after Strettle gleefully accepted Stafford McDowell’s gift on halfway.
A Scottish wag in the crowd shouted “remember Twickenham” but there was never going to be a comeback of that magnitude and as if to underline that Saracens scored another try five minutes later.
It went to George, this time doing more-typical Jamie George-like things.
He came round from a five-metre line-out and got the final touch as the black wave simply swept over the Warriors.
George Horne did raise a smile among the visiting support with a good score, made by Samuel Johnson’s positive charge into Saracens’ territory
They would also get the final try on the last play but by that point the hosts had got their final try, Tompkins taking a short ball and scoring under the posts.
George left the field with nine minutes to go to a standing ovation while the good news continued for Saracens as Maro Itoje completed a full 80 minutes despite a late scare.
And on this performance Munster will have to be at the belligerent best to derail the seemingly unstoppable Saracens charge.
Saracens: Barrington, George, Judge, Skelton, Kruis, Itoje, Wray, Vunipola, Specer, Goode, Strettle, Barritt, Lozowski, Maitland, Williams.
Replacements: Woolstencroft, Lamositele, Koch, Isiekwe, Burger, Whiteley, Malins, Tompkins.
Tries: Williams 5, 49, Strettle 26, 57, Barritt 30, George 63, Tompkins 71
Conversions: Lozowski 5, 30, 49, 57, 63, 71
Penalties: Lozowski 15, 43, 55
Glasgow Warriors: Kebble, Brown, Z.Fagerson, Swinson, Cummings, Harley, Gibbins, M.Fagerson, Price, Hastings, Hughes, Johnson, McDowall.Steyn, Hogg.
Replacements: Bryce, Bhatti, Halanukonuka, Gray, Fusaro, G.Horne, P.Horne, Matawalu.
Tries: M.Fagerson 2, 80 G.Horne 67
Conversions: Hastings 2, 80
Penalties: Hastings 33, 38
HT: Saracens 22 Glasgow Warriors 13
Referee: Nigel Owens