Aviva Premiership: Saracens win to confirm top spot and relegate opponents Worcester
Last Updated: 03/05/14 5:42pm
Saracens beat Worcester 44-20 to ensure that they will finish top of the Aviva Premiership table, whilst confirming relegation for the Warriors in the process.
It always looked like being a tall order for Dean Ryan's men at Allianz Park and so it proved as Sarries ran in six tries, with Jackson Wray grabbing a hat-trick, Chris Ashton going over twice and David Strettle crossing to complete a routine win.
Chris Pennell's brace and a score for Semisi Taulava came to nought for the Warriors, who will now end the season bottom of the Premiership - the Sixways outfit facing a second Championship season in five years, provided the second-tier promotion contenders pass the Premiership's entry criteria.
Bristol, Leeds and London Welsh will breeze through any scrutiny, while Rotherham are now likely to meet the minimum standards too having agreed a ground-sharing deal in principle to play their rugby at Barnsley's Oakwell ground next term.
Worcester were relegated for the first time in 22 years in 2010 and now face the ignominy once more, although director of rugby Ryan will suffer precious little blame for Worcester's impending demotion.
Saracens were quickly about their business on Saturday afternoon, Strettle coasting home on the left wing after Mako Vunipola's defence-busting rumble from a tapped free-kick - Alex Goode landed the conversion with England fly-half Owen Farrell still not resuming goal-kicking duties after foot trouble.
Billy Vunipola's crude late shoulder barge on Jonny Arr gifted Worcester three points from Ryan Lamb's boot.
Mako Vunipola then walked off with a suspected leg injury, Saracens choosing to remove him as a precaution with the Heineken Cup final and Premiership play-offs ahead.
Ashton eased immediately into the right corner, thanks to Billy Vunipola's break and Goode creating the extra man in the line, the latter failed with the touchline conversion but landed a penalty on the quarter-hour after Brad Barritt's thunderous midfield tackle.
Ashton on song
David Lemi's chip forced Ashton to carry over his goal-line and dot down, handing Worcester a five-metre scrum. Five scrums and three penalties later, Rhys Gill was handed a yellow card, for continually buckling under pressure from Scotland tighthead Euan Murray.
Worcester finally struck when Saracens conceded a cheap breakdown penalty after failing to clear. Impressive full-back Pennell cut a smart short line off Lamb, to sneak home, with Lamb converting to cut Saracens' lead to just five points.
Saracens struck back immediately once again, though, making light of their 14 men with flanker Wray scything home after perceptive work from Marcelo Bosch - Goode's conversion put Saracens 22-10 to the good at half-time.
Gill returned after the break, and Saracens quickly dismantled Worcester's scrum to hand full-back Goode his second penalty goal of the afternoon.
Saracens grabbed their bonus-point score on 51 minutes when Ashton shimmied in for his second try of the day, though Goode was unable to convert.
Wray added his second just past the hour and centre Bosch thought he had added try number six, only for Lamb to be sin-binned for a deliberate knock-on and the score chalked off given Hargreaves' fumble.
Saracens scored straight from the scrum with Wray driving home for his hat-trick, Goode converting to push the hosts into a 44-10 lead.
Injury to Will Fraser reduced Saracens to 14, the home side having emptied their bench, and late yellow cards to Strettle and Neil de Kock saw them finish with just 12 men on the field.
Worcester took advantage as Taulava and Pennell both crossed for late unconverted tries to add a touch of respectablity to the scoreline, but they finished well beaten.
Fri 24th Apr
Bath43 - 18London Irish
Sat 25th Apr
Sale Sharks23 - 25Harlequins
Gloucester42 - 40Newcastle Falcons
Leicester Tigers38 - 17London Welsh
Northampton25 - 20Saracens
Sun 26th Apr
Wasps36 - 29Exeter
Fri 8th May
Harlequins0 - 0Bath
Sat 9th May
Sale Sharks0 - 0Newcastle Falcons
Gloucester0 - 0London Irish
Northampton0 - 0London Welsh
Wasps0 - 0Leicester Tigers
Sun 10th May
Saracens0 - 0Exeter
Sat 16th May
Bath0 - 0Gloucester
Exeter0 - 0Sale Sharks
Leicester Tigers0 - 0Northampton
London Irish0 - 0Wasps
London Welsh0 - 0Saracens
Newcastle Falcons0 - 0Harlequins
Aviva Premiership 2013/14 R21
Conor O'Shea praised Harlequins' never-say-die attitude after seeing them claim a stunning late victory over Exeter
Tom Guest scored a try five minutes from time as Harlequins picked up a priceless bonus point in a 30-29 win at Exeter.
Dean Ryan believes Worcester can still hold on to prized asset Chris Pennell, despite his side's relegation.