Champions Cup: Saracens beat Wasps to reach final

By Adam WilliamsBBC Sport at Madejski Stadium
Mako Vunipola celebrates as Wasps are awarded a penalty try
Saracens finally killed off Wasps' challenge with a late penalty try
Saracens (8) 24
Tries: Rhodes, penalty Con: Farrell Pens: Farrell 4
Wasps (7) 17
Tries: Robson, Johnson Cons: Gopperth 2 Pen: Gopperth

Saracens reached their second final in three years on Europe's biggest stage as they held off the challenge of fellow English club Wasps.

Dan Robson's early try put Wasps ahead but a Michael Rhodes try and Owen Farrell penalty saw Sarries lead 8-7.

Three more Farrell penalties and a penalty try made it 24-10.

And although Ashley Johnson scored late on for Wasps, it is Saracens who will meet Leicester or Racing 92 in the Champions Cup final.

The Tigers play Parisians Racing in the second semi-final on Sunday for the right to face English champions Saracens in Lyon on 14 May.

Report: Montpellier 22-12 Newport Gwent Dragons

Saracens come from behind

Despite dominating possession and territory after their early set-back, Mark McCall's Saracens side only led for the first time on the stroke of half-time.

Their tries came when Rhodes charged down Jimmy Gopperth's attempted clearance and when Wasps illegally collapsed a surging maul late on.

Farrell, who missed three kicks in total, rediscovered his range and accuracy in the second half and although Wasps produced a brave display of gutsy, attacking rugby in the latter stages, Johnson's try was all they could manage.

Champions Cup final, 14 May, Parc Olympique Lyonnais, Lyon
Saracens (Eng) v Leicester (Eng) or Racing 92 (Fra)

Sarries' defence snuffs out Wasps' attack

Robson's try in the opening 90 seconds was created by an electric 60-metre break from Christian Wade, who was by far the Coventry-based side's sharpest attacking weapon in the face of Saracens' smothering defence and superb control of the ball.

Fresh from his Premiership record-equalling six tries against Worcester last week, Wade sizzled past two would-be tacklers before feeding inside to Robson, who finished off a fine move.

Wade's burst of pace frightened Saracens, but the home side's reputation for dogged defence and relentless work at the breakdown was shown to be well deserved as they strangled the life out of Wasps.

As the game went on both Vunipola brothers, Mako and Billy, alongside hooker Schalk Brits and Grand Slam-winning second rows George Kruis and Maro Itoje, turned the screw up front for Saracens.

Saracens wrap up Joe Launchbury

Fiery exchanges

There were two yellow cards - one for each side - during what was, at times, a tempestuous encounter.

Farrell was the first man in the sin bin when Romain Poite and television match official Eric Gauzins adjudged the fly-half's tackle on Robson - which led to the Wasps scrum-half being taken off on a stretcher after a sickening clash of heads - to be illegal.

Wasps replacement prop Simon McIntyre was the second man in the sin bin when he was caught kicking out at Itoje's face at the back of a ruck after the England man held onto the front-rower's leg.

Man of the match - Schalk Brits

Schalk Brits (right) attacks for Saracens
Livewire hooker Brits married his excellent running game to an industrious defensive display on Saturday

While Itoje - who was imperious in the line-out and got the official award - second row partner Kruis and the Vunipola brothers may be in fashion following England's Grand Slam victory last month, Saracens' South Africa hooker shone alongside them.

Strong in the tackle and accurate with his line-out throws, Brits' work on the floor also helped turn the tide in Saracens' favour in the first half and again as Wasps' discipline began to desert them in the second.

What they said

Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall:

"Our scrum was dominant both on our put-in but also when they had the ball, and our defensive line-out was outstanding.

"When they did get good positions, we were able to put them under pressure in the air.

"There were times when we could have got a bit frustrated, but we were really composed and able to combine that with unbelievable energy and physicality."

Maro Itoje soars to take a line-out for Saracens
Saracens second row Maro Itoje turned in another imperious performance

Wasps director of rugby Dai Young:

"In the first half Saracens had a bit of a stranglehold on us. We didn't get a lot of possession or territory, but you've got to give them a lot of credit for that.

"For 10 minutes in the first half, we resorted to a bit of a kicking game, which is not us. But that was due to the pressure and accuracy of Saracens.

"There's a lot of things we could have done better, some things we're disappointed with, but I couldn't be prouder of the group."

Saracens: Goode; Ashton, Taylor, Barritt, Wyles; Farrell, Wigglesworth; M Vunipola, Brits, Du Plessis, Itoje, Kruis, Rhodes, Fraser, B Vunipola.

Replacements: De Kock for Wigglesworth (76), Saunders for Brits (74), Lamositele for du Plessis (76), Wray for Rhodes (62).

Not Used: Barrington, J Hamilton, Hodgson, Bosch.

Sin Bin: Farrell (50).

Wasps: C Piutau; Wade, Daly, S Piutau, Halai; Gopperth, Robson; Mullan, Festuccia, Cittadini, Launchbury, Davies, Haskell, Smith, Hughes.

Replacements: Simpson for Robson (50), McIntyre for Mullan (60), Johnson for Festuccia (69), Swainston for Cittadini (65), Young for Haskell (60), Jones for N Hughes (69).

Not Used: Jackson, Miller.