Rugby-Saracens beat holders Quins to reach Premiership final


  • Rugby
  • Saturday, 11 Jun 2022

LONDON (Reuters) - Flanker Ben Earl scored a hat-trick as Saracens reached English rugby's Premiership final in their first season back in the top flight when they overcame holders and London rivals Harlequins 34-17 in a feisty, high-quality semi-final on Saturday.

Earl, this week named Premiership player of the season but still somehow out of favour with England coach Eddie Jones, capped a great all-round team performance by the hosts, who had to withstand a sustained last-quarter assault after losing three men to the sin-bin.

Saracens, who were relegated two years ago as punishment for salary cap breaches, will now play either Leicester or Northampton in next Saturday’s Twickenham final where they will hope to claim the trophy for the fifth time in eight seasons.

Quins, the only one of last season's semi-finalists to reach the last four this time, got off to a flying start when Alex Dombrandt was mauled over the line before a superb break by Marcus Smith set up Danny Care for a second try.

Saracens forced their way back though with tries by Earl and, after a great Owen Farrell offload, Nick Tompkins, to lead 15-12 at halftime.

Dombrandt spilled the kickoff for the second half and Saracens pounced immediately to send the ever-supporting Earl over for his second score.

Springbok prop Vincent Koch then blasted through on to another clever Farrell pass to set up Aled Davies and the hosts were 27-12 ahead after 55 minutes.

Quins, who famously came from 28-0 down at Bristol to win last season’s semi-final 43-36 after extra time, closed the gap with a Cadan Murley try when Saracens were briefly down to 13 after yellow cards for Elliot Daly and then Billy Vunipola.

Another high-tackle sin-bin for Alex Lozowski meant more desperate defending for Saracens but they held out superbly and finished on a high when Earl was driven over in the final minute.

Earl was playing on loan at Bristol in the semi-final defeat last year and said that experience made Saturday's victory all the sweeter.

"That gave me sleepless nights for months over the summer so it was nice to get one over them," he said.

"We knew they were never going to go away -– I learned that the hard way -- but we spoke about what the last nine or 10 months has been about.

"We had to fight for each other, that's what this team is all about. We are together and we'll see what happens next week."

(Reporting by Mitch Phillips, editing by Clare Fallon)

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