Apr 06, 2013
Saracens 27 Ulster 16
Saracens booked a place in the semi-finals of the Heineken Cup with a 27-16 victory against Ulster at Twickenham.
In front of a record crowd for a quarter-final in England of 37,888, tries from Man of the Match Will Fraser and Chris Ashton, Sarries booked their place in the final four of the competition for only the second time in their history.
Fly-half Owen Farrell also kicked 17 points in the victory that sets up the semi-final clash at Twickenham on April 28.
Scrum-half Ruan Pienaar booted three penalties for Ulster and converted flanker Iain Henderson's late try, yet they never threatened a repeat of last season's Heineken Cup heroics that saw them reach the final.
Farrell booted Saracens ahead through a second-minute penalty but the opening exchanges were dominated by largely aimless tactical kicking from both teams as try-scoring opportunities proved few and far between.
Ulster quickly grew into the game but Pienaar missed two penalty chances in three minutes - his second attempt hit the post - but he made no mistake from close range two minutes later.
And with Saracens finding themselves under increased scrummage pressure, England prop Mako Vunipola was penalised after being demolished by Ulster tighthead John Afoa and Pienaar hauled Ulster level.
They were only on level terms for three minutes, though, as a concerted spell of Saracens pressure resulted in Fraser powering over, although it required several reviews by television match official Eric Gauzins before the try was awarded.
Farrell converted and then kicked a penalty as half-time approached, hoisting Saracens 10 points clear to give them a degree of breathing space for the first time.
And when Farrell added a further penalty eight minutes into the second period Ulster had a mountain to climb, trailing by 13 points and with seemingly little hope of replicating last season's achievement in Europe.
Ulster tried to increase the tempo but Saracens were not noticeably threatened defensively despite some powerful Ulster surges led by blindside flanker Iain Henderson.
Farrell kicked another penalty to give Ulster further cause for concern and victory was sealed when prop Rhys Gill secured possession in midfield and Ashton ran around two defenders to claim a try that he celebrated with a trademark dive.
Henderson had the final say, posting a try that Pienaar converted, but it was Saracens' day.