Saracens hammer Leicester 44-17 to reach Aviva Premiership final
By Paul Vinnell
Last Updated: 21/05/16 5:50pm
Defending champions Saracens outclassed Leicester 44-17 in the first Premiership semi-final at Allianz Park on Saturday to reach their third consecutive final.
The newly-crowned European champions, who toppled Racing 92 in last weekend's Champions Cup final, will now defend their Premiership title against Exeter in next Saturday's final at Twickenham.
Leicester were also routed in last year's semi-finals, losing 47-10 to Bath, and this was another dispiriting afternoon for a team that had been thrashed out of sight.
Saracens struck first in an end-to-end start after sharp play exploited the blindside, opening a gap in the Tigers' defence that was exploited with quick thinking from Schalk Brits and George Kruis sending Will Fraser crashing over.
Leicester were making inroads in their response but an ill-advised short kick from fly-half Owen Williams bounced kindly for Chris Wyles and the American wing glided between a hole in defence to cross under the posts.
Manu Tuilagi's departure added to the Tigers' woes and their afternoon continued to deteriorate when Saracens plundered a third try with a brilliantly-worked move from a scrum.
The set-piece was wheeled, Billy Vunipola broke and drew in two defenders before rapid passing from Richard Wigglesworth and Alex Goode created the space for Chris Ashton to score.
With Leicester making mistake after mistake and Vunipola rampaging across Allianz Park, the semi-final was in danger of turning into a procession.
The Tigers hit the self-destruct button once more on the stroke of half-time after a lazy pass from Ben Youngs was picked off by Wyles who raced in the intercept try.
Richard Cockerill's team talk had the desired effect, because with half an hour remaining Leicester had cut the deficit to 31-17.
Telusa Veainu pounced moments into the second half, capitalising on a momentary lapse in Saracens' concentration to cross in the right corner, before a series of drives from a line-out ended with Dom Barrow burrowing over.
But the fightback was brought to a halt in the final quarter through two penalties from Charlie Hodgson, who had replaced Farrell, and a converted opportunist try from Ashton.