Saracens reach semi-finals
A review of the weekend's action in the LV= Cup, including a victory for Saracens as they booked their semi-final spot.
- Related Content
Saracens recorded a comfortable 41-8 victory over Newcastle to ensure that they finished top of their LV= Cup group and progressed to the semi-finals of the competition.
A home tie in the last four would be a bonus for the Saracens but this will depend on next week's away fixture at Northampton.
Northampton have 14 points, Saracens have 15 and the winners of the game seem sure to have crucial home advantage.
A much-weakened Saracens took a considerable amount of time to subdue a stubborn Newcastle and only led 15-8 at the interval with Ben Spencer kicking five penalties.
It was not until early in the second half that they were to pick up their first try but two from number eight Jackson Wray put Newcastle out of contention.
Centre Tim Streather was Saracens' best player, making a number of penetrative runs and it was he who created their third try for Ben Ransom. Tom Jubb scored Saracens' bonus-point try with three conversions from Spencer completing the scoring.
On Saturday, Bath were too powerful for a youthful and enterprising Cardiff side and duly clinched a semi-final place, aided by Worcester's defeat at Sale.
The home team's punishing driving maul laid the platform for three of their tries, including first-half touchdowns by flanker Alafoti Fa'osilva and scrum-half Micky Young.
Gavin Henson came off the bench against one of his former clubs to claim the third early in the second half but it was just five minutes before the end that Guy Mercer claimed the bonus-point try for the runaway Pool Three leaders.
Second-half tries by Mark Easter and Charlie Ingall kept Sale in contention for a semi-final place. They beat Worcester 20-6, a result which helped Bath progress.
Referee Gwyn Morris called full-time nine minutes from the scheduled end as holders Harlequins secured their first win in this season's competition at the third attempt and hand 2012 winners Leicester their first defeat.
Play was halted when a torrential hailstorm and high winds hit the Twickenham Stoop and the crowd were warned to move clear of scaffolding at one end of the ground.
With high winds, rain, hail and lightning lashing The Stoop where advertising hoardings and assorted debris were blowing on to the pitch, referee Morris ordered the players to the dressing room.
It was announced that the game had been stopped early on "health and safety grounds".
Even though their own hopes of reaching the last four had been virtually extinguished before kick-off, Quins had shown their pride with a disciplined display which leaves Tigers' last-four ambitions in the balance.
Wasps collected their first victory in the competition with a deserved 22-15 win over their close rivals London Irish.
Irish remain winless in the competition and on paper they had the stronger side but a poor start and missed goal kicks by the visitors cost them the match.
Each team scored three tries but seven points from the boot of Joe Carlisle was the decisive factor.
Northampton are almost certain to be through to the knockout stages after they took the second half of their clash with Newport Gwent Dragons by the scruff of the neck and finished with a 34-16 victory.
Tries from wing Fa'atoina Autagavaia, a penalty try, hooker Mike Haywood, prop Gareth Denman and back row Gerrit Jan Van Vetize plus three conversions and a penalty from fly-half Glenn Dickson secured the win that leaves second-placed Scarlets six points adrift with one game to play in the pool.
Exeter Chiefs made it three wins over Ospreys in as many seasons with a 36-22 success to keep alive their slim hopes of progressing.
With Leicester loosing at Harlequins, the Devon side need maximum points from next weekend's trip to Worcester to achieve their goal.
Tries from centre Steffan Hughes and wing Aaron Warren earned the Scarlets a hard-fought 13-7 victory over Gloucester at Parc Y Scarlets on Friday.