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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 18 December 2018

'Our attack was a lot better than our defence': Owen Farrell boots Saracens into English Premiership final

Farrell's 27 points - a semi-final record - in a flawless kicking display helped ensure Saracens reach Twickenham showpiece with 57-33 win over Wasps. Waiting for them are the Exeter Chiefs, who eased past Newcastle Falcons

Owen Farrell of Saracens kicks a penalty during the Aviva Premiership semi-final win against Wasps at Allianz Park. Clive Rose / Getty Images
Owen Farrell of Saracens kicks a penalty during the Aviva Premiership semi-final win against Wasps at Allianz Park. Clive Rose / Getty Images

Owen Farrell's goalkicking proved the difference as Saracens eventually overwhelmed Wasps 57-33 to book a place in the English Premiership final against defending champions Exeter Chiefs.

Saracens were just ahead on try-count, 6-5, at their Allianz Park ground in north London come the finish of the first of Saturday's two play-off semi-finals.

But England centre Farrell's 27 points - a semi-final record - in a flawless kicking display helped ensure Saracens remained in command.

Wasps, however, fought back superbly after being 30-5 down early in the second half of what became the highest scoring Premiership semi-final, topping the 77 points, including 10 tries, shared when Wasps beat Northampton 57-20 in 2004.

"I thought we were up for it during the week and our start showed that we were," Farrell told BT Sport.

"Our attack was a lot better than our defence and there's some things we need to fix up, but we'll enjoy watching the second semi-final."

"We were always just enough ahead to not be under too much pressure. It's credit to our boys for sticking in and not letting their heads dip when they had a chance of getting back into it."

Waiting for Saracens in next week's final will be reigning Premiership champions Exeter Chiefs, who ran out 36-5 winners over Newcastle Falcons at Sandy Park in Saturday's second semi-final.

This season's Premiership final will be a repeat of the 2016 title showdown - Saracens beat Exeter 28-20 on that occasion - and will see England's top two teams following the 22-game regular season going head to head.

If Exeter win, they will become only the third club after Leicester, Wasps and Saracens to successfully defend Premiership silverware in the competition's 20-year history.

Saracens' pack, with Maro Itoje one of several impressive England internationals on show, also played a key role in ensuring the home side would travel across London for the Twickenham final a week on Saturday.

But a match played in glorious sunshine, with England coach Eddie Jones among the crowd, produced some mixed news for the Red Rose ahead of their upcoming three-Test tour of South Africa.

Saracens' Billy Vunipola and Wasps' Nathan Hughes, England's first-choice No 8s, both returned from long-term injury problems.

Vunipola, however, did not appear for the second half after receiving further treatment for the hamstring problem that delayed his return from a broken arm.

Saracens, however, insisted this was a precautionary move. Meanwhile Hughes, who had not been expected to play again this season after knee surgery and was left out of the South Africa squad as a result, could yet force his way back into the party to face the Springboks after playing three-quarters of this gruelling match.

Farrell, who will be England's captain in South Africa in the absence of the injured Dylan Hartley, sent Saracens on their way as early as the second minute when his break and pass released Alex Lozowski for the opening try.

Vincent Kock took Saracens further ahead with their second try before South Africa's Willie le Roux started and finished a try-scoring move to give Wasps a foothold in the match.

However, it looked as if Saracens were all but out of sight when veteran United States wing Chris Wyles dived over in the corner for a try early in the second half.

Wasps though were far from finished, with Jake Cooper-Woolley crossing for a try that sparked a bewilderingly quick array of scores.

Danny Cipriani then released speedy wing Christian Wade, who found Thomas Young for yet another Wasps try.

Farrell's fourth and fifth penalties gave Saracens a measure of breathing space only for Wasps, thanks to more good work by Cipriani and Guy Thompson, to send Le Roux in for their fourth try.

Saracens retained their composure and solid drives near the Wasps' line paved the way for a try by Juan Figallo.

Itoje and Wade then exchanged tries before Saracens replacement scrum-half Ben Spencer ended the try-scoring in a semi-final that entertained the crowd but doubtless disappointed the defence coaches on both sides.