|Saracens (23) 44|
|Tries: Maitland, Spencer, Williams, Tompkins 3 Cons: Farrell 4 Pens: Farrell 2|
|Gloucester (7) 19|
|Tries: Morgan, Dreyer, Ludlow Cons: Twelvetrees 2 Pens:|
Nick Tompkins’ second-half hat-trick helped Saracens cruise past Gloucester 44-19 and keep up their hopes of a second domestic and European double.
Ben Morgan’s second-minute try was cancelled out by scores from Sean Maitland, Ben Spencer and Liam Williams as Owen Farrell kicked eight points in an engrossing first half.
Replacement Tompkins’ treble came in the first 16 minutes after the break.
Ruan Dreyer and Lewis Ludlow got consolation tries for Gloucester.
Gloucester looked like they could upset the form book as Morgan went over after a superb six-pass move that included a lovely reverse ball by Mark Atkinson to open up a hole in the Saracens defence.
But Mark McCall’s side showed why they are Europe’s best as they strangled Gloucester’s ambitions and pressurised them with high balls and front-foot defence.
They hit back within two minutes as Maitland gathered Farrell’s grubber kick, after Williams acrobatically kept the ball alive from the kick-off, before Spencer crossed after a brilliant 40-metre break and dummy by Maro Itoje.
Gloucester’s first half was summed up by two moments in the final 10 minutes – first Charlie Sharples’ pass after a lovely backs move was intercepted by Alex Goode when the Cherry and Whites had an overlap, and then Alex Lozowski snaffled a high kick and fed Sarries’ Wales and British and Irish Lions star Williams, who coasted into the corner.
First-half replacement Tompkins’ first score was a 40-metre dash a minute after the restart, while his second came at the end of some slick inter-passing from his team-mates and his third was from a metre out after Goode was held up on the Gloucester line.
Front-row replacement Dreyer got one try back after a lovely dummy opened up a gap under the posts while Ludlow ran in from distance following a cute Billy Twelvetrees offload.
But Saracens were not troubled as they made a fifth Premiership final in six years.
Farrell wins battle with Cipriani
The pre-match hype centred on the contest between arguably the best two fly-halves in the country as double Player of the Year Cipriani faced up against England’s first-choice Owen Farrell.
Saracens’ defence did not allow Gloucester the opportunities to get the ball into Cipriani’s hands and show his talent, while Farrell was key to his side’s first try.
Although the Saracens man did miss a number of kickable penalties, barring injury you would expect Farrell to be the one of the first men on the plane to Japan for the World Cup.
Whether Cipriani’s performance has persuaded Eddie Jones that he should join him is still in the balance.
Saracens sweat over Barritt
Saracens’ only concern from the victory was seeing skipper Brad Barritt limp off after 27 minutes.
The former England centre appeared to have a hamstring problem and would seem a major doubt for next week’s showpiece at Twickenham.
However, his replacement Tompkins proved a more than able deputy as his tries snuffed out any hope of a Cherry and Whites comeback.
“It’s devastating to lose Brad and it’s very unlikely he’ll be able to play in the final,” said Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall. “Given what he’s given the team this year, that feels very sad.
“Nick has had a phenomenal game. He’s been involved in every Premiership and European game this season. He’s been one of the players who has risen this year.”
Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall:
“I feel quite funny because the scoreline does them [Gloucester] a disservice. We need to be better against whoever we play at Twickenham next weekend.
“It’s almost perfect because we’ve won comfortably and scored some good tries, but still have a frustrated changing room.
“If we want to get the result we want [in the final], then we need to be better. The players understand that.
“For 10 minutes before half-time and 10 minutes after, we took advantage of some crucial turnovers. Our ability to recover the ball from kicks was outstanding.
“But there were other parts of the game we weren’t too happy with, so there are enough things for us to fix.”
Saracens: Goode; Williams, Lozowski, Barrett (capt), Maitland; Farrell, Spencer; Barrington, George, Koch, Skelton, Kruis, Itoje, Wray, B Vunipola.
Replacements: Gray, Adams-Hale, Judge, Isiekwe, Rhodes, Wigglesworth, Tompkins, Strettle.
Gloucester: Woodward; Sharples, Twelvetrees, Atkinson, Marshall; Cipriani, Heinz (capt); Hohneck, Marais, Balmain, Slater, Mostert, Ackermann, Kriel, Morgan.
Replacements: Sherry, Rapava Ruskin, Dreyer, Savage, Ludlow, Polledri, Vellacott, Purdy.
Referee: Luke Pearce.