Home Rugby Saracens Snatch Top Seed With Hard Fought Win Over Warriors

Saracens Snatch Top Seed With Hard Fought Win Over Warriors

BARNET, ENGLAND - JANUARY 19: Billy Vunipola of Saracens scores his sides third try despite the efforts of Adam Hastings (l) of Glasgow Warriors during the Champions Cup match between Saracens and Glasgow Warriors at Allianz Park on January 19, 2019 in Barnet, United Kingdom. (Photo by Henry Browne/Getty Images)

Saracens saw off a furious challenge from Glasgow Warriors to win 38-19 at Allianz Park on Saturday and clinch first place in Pool 3 and the top seed in the European Champions Cup quarter-finals.

Saracens had won their first five games to ensure a last-eight spot. Glasgow had already qualified on Friday without playing when Scottish rivals Edinburgh beat Montpellier 19-10.

That result sealed last-eight spots for both Scottish teams. Edinburgh won Pool 5 while Glasgow were guaranteed, at the least, one of the slots for the three best second-place teams in the five pools.

On Saturday, in a frenzied opening 30 minutes the Warriors looked capable of matching Saracens blow for blow.

After Ben Spencer finished a sharp break by David Strettle in the seventh minute, Glasgow rapidly hit back twice.

In the ninth minute winger, Tommy Seymour touched down in the corner. Four minutes later, scrum half Ali Price galloped through an uncharacteristically disorganised Saracens defence to put the Warriors ahead.

Vincent Koch restored the home lead after 17 minutes.

Again Glasgow quickly hit back with Ryan Wilson scoring three minutes later.

Hard-hitting Saracens back row Billy Vunipola then crashed over for the sixth try in the first 30 minutes.

After that Sarries, who led by five points, began to stifle Glasgow’s free-running rugby.

In the last 11 minutes, as the Scots wearied, the home team ran in two more tries through Maro Itoje and Will Skelton to make the result secure for the winners of this trophy in 2016 and 2017.

“This game was by no means easy,” Itoje told BT Sport after the final whistle. “They challenged us physically and played a very expansive brand of rugby.”

In the other Pool 3 game, Cardiff Blues scored six tries as they beat visiting Lyon, 33-14. The result meant Lyon ended the pool without a point, a first for a French club.

Edinburgh’s victory on Friday meant they reached the European Champions Cup quarter-finals for the first time since 2012.

However, coach Richard Cockerill said Edinburgh’s prospects of winning the trophy were low.

“Not a chance, but I don’t think any of the eight teams (in the quarter-finals) would say they could win the tournament because it’s such a hard tournament to win. There is so much luck involved,” he said.

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About Oisin McQueirns

Oisin McQueirns is a digital journalist at Pundit Arena. Massive fan of Leeds United, Ric Flair and Trusting The Process. Contact him here oisin@punditarena.com