Saracens 40 Edinburgh 7: Ashton doubles lifts Sarries in Vicarage Road send-off
15:50 GMT, 20 January 2013
23:08 GMT, 20 January 2013
England winger Chris Ashton defied the snow to score two tries and book Saracens a Heineken Cup quater-final clash with Ulster.
It was the sort of day when a winger only touches the ball twice – luckily for Ashton he scored both times. The first was a routine chase but the second came from a controversial cross-field kick from Owen Farrell.
The England fly-half, wearing the Saracens number 13 shirt yesterday, looked to be teeing up a penalty but spotted Ashton open wide and pulled the trigger. The Edinburgh players were furious as the kicking tee was already on the pitch, meaning Saracens, playing their final match at Vicarage Road, had no option but to kick.
Top dogs: Saracens finished first in their table ahead of Munster and Racing Metro
Ecstatic: Charlie Hodgson celebrates after scoring Saracens' fourth try to secure their bonus-point
But Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall preferred to salute Ashton, saying: 'It was great to see Ashy score a couple of tries and getting back to what he really does best.
'The second try was fantastic and I wish I could claim credit for thinking that up; Ashy and Owen (Farrell) just saw each other and they pulled it off.
'We can appreciate just how difficult it was out there and we said after the game that the conditions were as bad as it gets with the ball like a bar of soap.’
Power: Saracens' skipper Steve Borthwick rampages through tackles at a very snowy Vicarage Road
Richard Wigglesworth handed Edinburgh a way back before half-time. With the ball slipping around like an ice-hockey puck the Saracens scrum-half fumbled and Greig Tonks tobogganed over the line.
But the game was won early in the second half with an unstoppable lineout drive. Eight snowmen might have done a better job of slowing down the driving maul than the visiting pack and Matt Stevens emerged smiling.
Reach for the sky: Saracens' Ernst Joubert takes a line-out on full stretch
It was Charlie Hodgson who scored the crucial fourth try to cap off another polished performance this season. Edinburgh captain Greg Laidlaw was distracted by Joel Tomkins’ dummy line and Hodgson simply stepped through the defence.
The only question for Saracens now is where to stage April’s quarter-final. Their new Allianz Park 10,000-seater stadium is not large enough so the club are ‘assessing all options’ with Wembley a possibility.
Braving the cold: Will Fraserescapes the Edinburgh defence on his way to a break the gain line
Snowed under: The groundsmen did a terrific job to get the match on and have the send-off for Vicarage Road