Aviva Premiership 2015-16

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Aviva Premiership
Saracens hold off Leicester fightback to reach Premiership final
PA Sport
May 21, 2016
Report Match details
Date/Time: May 21, 2016, 12:30 local, 11:30 GMT
Venue: Allianz Park, Barnet
Saracens 44 - 17 Leicester Tigers
Attendance: 9932  Half-time: 31 - 0
Tries: Ashton 2, Fraser, Wyles 2
Cons: Farrell 4, Hodgson
Pens: Farrell, Hodgson 2
Tries: Barrow, Veainu
Cons: Williams 2
Pens: Williams
BARNET, ENGLAND - MAY 21:  Will Fraser of Saracens celebrates scoring a try during the Aviva Premiership semi final match between Saracens and Leicester Tigers at Allianz Park on May 21, 2016 in Barnet, England.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
Will Fraser celebrates scoring Saracens' first try after four minutes in a first-half rout of Leicester
© Getty Images
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Saracens will take their defence of the Aviva Premiership all the way to Twickenham but only after surviving a second-half fightback from Leicester at Allianz Park.

After kicking their way to the European Champions Cup last Saturday, it was a different Saracens all together that emerged in the first half of this semi-final. Will Fraser opened the floodgates after four minutes, and Leicester could have few complaints about finding themselves 31-0 down at half-time.

However, the visitors were not going to go quietly and two tries and a penalty within the first 12 minutes of the second half suddenly rejuvenated the match as a contest.

Only once Chris Ashton turned a super kick-chase into a try with eight minutes to go could Saracens breathe easy again.

England coach Eddie Jones may have winced as both Manu Tuilagi and Owen Farrell had to go off injured.

Jones names his England squad for next month's three-Test series against the Wallabies on Sunday and will be anxiously awaiting updates on the midfield pair, who were certainties to be included in his squad.

Farrell's exit marred an otherwise fine afternoon for double-chasing Saracens, who had amassed a 31-0 lead by half-time with Wyles crossing twice and man of the match Chris Ashton also finishing with a brace.

The newly-crowned European champions, who toppled Racing 92 in last weekend's Champions Cup final, will now defend their Premiership title against Exeter or Wasps 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 Wyles and the American wing glided between a hole in defence to cross under the posts.

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 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.

Maro Itoje attempts to break through the Leicester defence © Getty Images
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