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Saracens 28 Gloucester 23: match report

Saracens 28 Gloucester 23: Hodgson marks return by kicking hosts back into second

PUBLISHED:

17:21 GMT, 2 December 2012

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UPDATED:

17:21 GMT, 2 December 2012

Fly-half Charlie Hodgson kicked 23 points as Saracens moved back into second place in the Aviva Premiership table with victory over Gloucester at Vicarage Road.

Hodgson, returning to the side after four weeks out with a fractured cheekbone, landed seven penalties and a conversion – with only one miss – to hand captain Steve Borthwick victory on his 100th appearance for the club.

But they were pushed all the way by Gloucester who competed superbly but were ultimately sunk by replacement Richard Wigglesworth's crucial second-half try for Sarries.

Kicking on: Charlie Hodgson marked his return to Saracens by scoring 23 points

Kicking on: Charlie Hodgson marked his return to Saracens by scoring 23 points

Gloucester, who had two players sin-binned, replied with tries from prop Dan Murphy and flanker Akapusi Qera, with Billy Twelvetrees kicking their other 13 points.

Twelvetrees, switched from centre to fly-half with Freddie Burns on England duty as a replacement in the Twickenham triumph over New Zealand, kicked Gloucester into an early 6-0 lead with penalties in the second and seventh minutes.

Hodgson's second penalty levelled the scores at 6-6 in the 27th minute but, two minutes later, Gloucester scored the first try of the match after the former England fly-half's clearance kick was charged down.

Prop Murphy, who blocked the kick, produced a neat one-touch to control the ball with his boot and a clean pair of hands to collect it and drive over the line, with Twelvetrees converting.

But, three minutes later, Murphy became the villain when he was sin-binned by referee Sean Davey for killing the ball at a ruck.

Hodgson made partial amends for his earlier blunder by kicking the resulting penalty.

Crunched: Billy Twelvetrees of Gloucester runs into trouble

Crunched: Billy Twelvetrees of Gloucester runs into trouble

Coming together: John Smit (right) tries to power past Twelvetrees

Coming together: John Smit (right) tries to power past Twelvetrees

Gloucester sent on Nick Wood as a temporary front-row replacement for Murphy but his first scrum was penalised on the halfway line and Hodgson made his fourth kick appear effortless from the halfway line to reduce the deficit to a single point four minutes before the interval.

Hodgson struck again to kick Saracens ahead three minutes into the second half after Gloucester were penalised for failing to roll away at the tackle.

But Gloucester responded with number eight Sione Kalamafoni making a surging run through the middle from the halfway line before their pack mounted a concerted series of forward drives.

They moved the ball wide before Qera crashed over in the left corner, with Twelvetrees adding the conversion from the touchline.

Saracens, stung into action, came storming back and when Kalamafoni blatantly killed the ball at a ruck he became the second visiting player to be yellow-carded.

Gloucester were forced to defend desperately as Sarries, attempting to capitalise on their second extra-man advantage, threw everything at them in a series of forward assaults.

Easily done: Richard Wigglesworth dives over the line to score a try

Easily done: Richard Wigglesworth dives over the line to score a try

Gloucester somehow kept them out but they were conceding penalties and Hodgson landed his sixth in the 54th minute before suffering his first miss at the seventh attempt three minutes later as he tried to kick the home side ahead from long range.

But Saracens took the lead for the second time in the match when full-back Chris Wyles, back from international duty with the United States, split the Gloucester defence before releasing replacement scrum-half Wigglesworth who crossed in the corner for a real winger's try, converted by Hodgson.

Twelvetrees cut the gap to two points with his third penalty before Hodgson responded with his seventh.

Gloucester mounted a desperate late assault which saw Wigglesworth sin-binned but Saracens managed to soak up the pressure.

Leicester 17 Bath 12: Mass brawl mars Tigers" win as THREE are sent off in five minutes

Leicester 17 Bath 12: Mass brawl mars Tigers' win as THREE are sent off in five minutes of mayhem

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UPDATED:

15:40 GMT, 1 December 2012

Three players were sent off in five minutes of mayhem as Leicester bounced back from last week's defeat at Wasps to beat Bath in the Aviva Premiership at Welford Road.

Bath duo Francois Louw and Matt Banahan and Leicester's Brett Deacon were all shown red cards for foul play between the 60th and 65th minutes.

The dismissals proved a turning point in the game because Bath, who had just lost Simon Taylor to the sin-bin, saw their 12-6 lead – gained through tries from Stephen Donald and Tom Biggs – eroded as the hosts scored 11 points in five minutes.

Aggro: Tempers fray as Tigers' Anthony Allen is treated in the foreground

Aggro: Tempers fray as Tigers' Anthony Allen is treated in the foreground

Adam Thompstone crossed for Leicester's try, with the rest of the Tigers' points coming from the boot of George Ford.

It was a much-needed win for Leicester after last week's defeat at Wasps, while Bath, who beat leaders Harlequins last week, will be kicking themselves for their indiscipline.

Both teams were boosted by the return of some of their internationals, Leicester able to recall props Marcos Ayerza and Martin Castrogiovanni, with Horacio Agulla, Paul James and Louw back for Bath.

It was an emotional return to Welford Road for Argentina back Agulla, who joined Bath last summer, and there was added spice to the match for Leicester fly-half George Ford, whose father Mike is the Bath defence coach.

Last season Ford got the better of his father, who was then at Newcastle, in a one-sided game, but Bath were a much tougher proposition and they led 5-0 at half-time thanks to a fine solo try from their New Zealand fly-half Donald.

Off you go: Francis Louw (left) is sent off by ref Tim Wigglesworth

Off you go: Francis Louw (left) is sent off by ref Tim Wigglesworth

They were good value for it, too, for they ran hard and were adventurous when attacking and defended resolutely in their own 22.

Leicester created chances but were far too wasteful and Ford turned down several kickable penalties after missing attempts in the ninth and 15th minutes.

Donald missed a long-range penalty in the third minute and then Bath threw everything but the kitchen sink at Leicester, whose defence was rock solid.

But Bath drew first blood in the 13th minute after a fine break by full-back Nick Abendanon. From the ruck, Donald threw a couple of dummies before running straight over full-back Mathew Tait for a terrific try, which he failed to convert.

Ford missed penalties either side of the Bath try before putting Leicester in a great attacking position with a fine touch kick, but they wasted the chance with the referee penalising them for crossing when surging to the line from the line-out.

They passed up another chance to score from a line-out two minutes later and their lack of precision told again when they had a try chalked off for a forward pass.

It came after a brilliant counter-attack which twice involved Tait and winger Thompstone down the left, and when Leicester switched the attack to the right lock Graham Kitchener put Niall Morris over with a long floated pass only to see the video referee adjudge it to have gone forward.

Up above: Graham Kitchener claims the ball in a lineout at Welford Road

Up above: Graham Kitchener claims the ball in a lineout at Welford Road

After last week's defeat at Wasps, Leicester boss Richard Cockerill slammed his side, saying not one player deserved to wear the shirt. He demanded an improvement and, while there was commitment in spades, Leicester paid the price for poor basic skills, another chance going begging in the 34th minute when Anthony Allen threw a long pass to Thompstone that ended up in touch.

Whatever the Leicester coaches said at the break had an effect because they started the second half at a gallop and, when they won a penalty 40 metres out, Ford made no mistake.

Bath found themselves down to 14 men when number eight Taylor was sin-binned for obstruction on Tait in the 50th minute, and five minutes later Ford put Leicester ahead for the first time at 6-5 with a tremendous penalty from 46 metres.

The lead, however, lasted just two minutes because Bath hit back with their second try, winger Biggs cantering over after great work by Donald and Banahan.

Donald added the conversion to put Bath 12-6 ahead but there was another twist moments later when Bath flanker Louw was sent off for use of the elbow.

Leicester took advantage immediately, Thompstone scoring after Leicester had driven to the line from a line-out. Ford missed the conversion.

Worse followed when Michael Claassens conceded a needless penalty, pushing Allen in the back during a Leicester counter-attack and allowing Ford to kick an easy penalty.

And then Banahan was also sent off for a high tackle on Allen. Allen was left prostrate on the ground for several minutes while the medics attended to him before being carried off on a stretcher. Leicester flanker Deacon was also sent off after the incident for appearing to throw a punch.

The madness continued when Donald was sin-binned for also appearing to throw a punch, before Ford put Leicester 17-12 up with his fourth penalty 12 minutes from time.

Saracens 30 Racing Metro 13 – Heineken Cup

Saracens 30 Racing Metro 13: Brits stars with Sarries good value for win

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UPDATED:

17:21 GMT, 20 October 2012

Saracens' dominant first half ensured their experiment of staging a home Heineken Cup match overseas was rewarded with victory at King Baudouin Stadium.

The London club will be content to return to Brussels on the strength of a performance that puts them in control of Pool One, denying Racing a bonus point in the process.

While plans to take group games against Edinburgh and Munster to Cape Town and New York have been frustrated, they were able to entice Racing to the Belgium capital.

Taken out: Saracens' Richard Wigglesworth is tackled by Masi Matadigo

Taken out: Saracens' Richard Wigglesworth is tackled by Masi Matadigo

An estimated 2,000 fans made the journey across the North Sea as part of their ambition to explore new territory until the opening of Allianz Park, their under-development north London stadium, next February.

And Saracens ensured their journey was worthwhile as they established a 20-3 interval lead that Racing, with former England back Olly Barkley pulling the strings at 10, were unable to overhaul.

Tries from Chris Wyles and Steve Borthwick put the 2011 Aviva Premiership champions in the driving seat, but their opponents were only fully subdued by Will Fraser's touchdown four minutes from time.

A crowd of 18,202 saw the superb Charlie Hodgson kick 15 points, missing just one shot at goal, while lock Steve Borthwick and centre Brad Barritt both enjoyed fine afternoons.

But it was hooker Schalk Brits who finished with yet another man of the match award, mainly for the magical skill that led to Wyles' opener.

Star man: Schalk Brits impressed

Star man: Schalk Brits impressed

Only a last-ditch tackle from Barkley prevented winger Wyles, who had been put into space by Barritt's long pass, from crossing in the second minute.

Barkley and Hodgson exchanged penalties before Wyles invited pressure on Saracens by running from his own 22, enabling number eight Jacques Cronje and wing Benjamin Fall to counter-attack.

Racing pulverised the home scrum five metres out, but when the ball was spun wide Fall just failed to gather Fabrice Estebanez's astute chip.

Saracens surged ahead in the 21st minute after the dazzling skills of Brits sent over Wyles, who was making his 100th appearance for the club.

The South African raced through a gap, handed off one Racing defender and side-stepped another before slipping the scoring pass to Wyles, who was perfectly positioned in support.

Over the line: Steve Borthwick, the Saracens captain, dives over for a try

Over the line: Steve Borthwick, the Saracens captain, dives over for a try

Seven minutes later and Saracens were further ahead, Borthwick crashing over next to the posts following several phases that started with Chris Ashton marauding into space.

Hodgson landed both conversions, almost wriggled through an opening he created and then slotted a penalty as the Premiership club continued to dominate.

Racing openside Bernard Le Roux was sin-binned for illegally preventing scrum-half Neil de Kock from distributing the ball and Saracens' control extended into the second half.

Estebanez knocked on with the line at his mercy and it took until the 58th minute for the next points to arrive, via the boot of Hodgson.

Racing touched down for the first time after Masi Matadigo and Juan Martin Hernandez combined to send winger Juan Imhoff scorching over, giving hope of a final-quarter fightback.

Those hopes hardened when Gaetan Germain booted a penalty with 10 minutes left as the momentum began to shift behind the French club.

Smart rugby saw Saracens kick for the corners, however, and they were able to produce a third try when Fraser sliced through a ragged defence, with Hodgson converting.

Harlequins 16 Saracens 18: Owen Farrell on fire

Harlequins 16 Saracens 18: Farrell on fire for Sarries to break unbeaten Quins run

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UPDATED:

16:54 GMT, 30 September 2012

England fly-half Owen Farrell kicked the winning penalty six minutes from time as Saracens consigned Harlequins to their first defeat in five Aviva Premiership matches this season.

Farrell scored all 18 points for the visitors, with six penalties, in a hard-fought encounter at the Twickenham Stoop.

Harlequins, knocked off the top of the table when Northampton beat Wasps on Friday night, replied with an opportunist try from scrum-half Danny Care and 11 points from the boot of fly-half Nick Evans.

On form: Owen Farrell scored all of Sarries points

On form: Owen Farrell scored all of Sarries points

Breakout: Brad Barritt is tackled by Harlequins' Nick Easter

Breakout: Brad Barritt is tackled by Harlequins' Nick Easter

Match facts

Harlequins: Brown, Stegman, Hopper, Turner-Hall, Monye, Evans, Care, Marler, Gray, Johnston, Kohn, Robson, Guest, Robshaw, Easter.

Replacements: Buchanan for Gray (28), Matthews for Kohn (54), Fa'asavalu for Guest (54).

Not Used: Lambert, Collier, Dickson, Clegg, Lindsay-Hague.

Sin Bin: Kohn (33).

Tries: Care. Cons: Evans. Pens: Evans 3.

Saracens: Goode, Ashton, Tomkins, Barritt, Wyles, Farrell, Wigglesworth, Gill, Brits, Du Plessis, Borthwick, Hargreaves, Brown, Fraser, Joubert.

Replacements: Strettle for Tomkins (53), Hodgson for Wyles (69), Spencer for Wigglesworth (74), Vunipola for Gill (49), Smit for Brits (63), Stevens for Du Plessis (45), Kruis for Hargreaves (54), Saull for Fraser (72).

Sin Bin: Kruis (66).

Pens: Farrell 6.

Att: 14,224

Ref: Andrew Small (RFU).

But the usually dependable former All
Black missed three kickable second-half penalties, any one of which
would have been enough to preserve Quins' 100 per cent record this
season.

Evans kicked Harlequins into a
second-minute lead but six minutes later he saw a second attempt rebound
off the post after Sarries flanker Will Fraser pulled down a rolling
maul.

Saracens drew level in the 12th minute with Farrell's simple opening penalty after Harlequins strayed offside.

Two minutes later Evans restored his side's lead with his second successful kick.

Farrell equalised again in the 21st
minute after former England number eight Nick Easter was penalised for
not rolling away from a ruck.

The first try-scoring opportunity was
wasted by Quins. Evans found Easter but, with full-back Mike Brown
outside him, the back-row man's final pass went straight into the arms
of Saracens' England wing Chris Ashton.

A quick break out of defence put
Sarries on the front foot when Farrell and hooker Schalk Brits combined
to release Ashton down the right touchline but he was superbly tackled
into touch by Brown.

Harlequins hit trouble when they lost
hooker Joe Gray to injury, had lock Ollie Kohn sin-binned and fell
behind to Farrell's third penalty.

Over the line: Danny Care dives over to score a try

Over the line: Danny Care dives over to score a try

Gray's game ended in the 28th minute
when he was replaced for the second time by Rob Buchanan, only four
minutes after returning to the pitch following a 14-minute blood-injury
absence.

Five minutes later referee Andrew
Small showed Kohn the yellow card for killing the ball near his own line
and Farrell landed the resulting penalty.

On the move: Care breaks through

On the move: Care breaks through

But 14-man Quins put the misfortunes
behind them when Care, looking far more lively than England scrum-half
rival and opposite number Richard Wigglesworth, scored a real sniper's
try.

Exploiting a rare gap in the
Premiership's meanest defence, he dashed clear to touch down near the
posts, leaving Evans a simple conversion.

Charge: Harlequins' Mike Brown breaks through a tackle from Saracens' Will Fraser (left) and Steve Borthwick

Charge: Harlequins' Mike Brown breaks through a tackle from Saracens' Will Fraser (left) and Steve Borthwick

Farrell reduced Quins' lead to a single point with a 45-metre penalty four minutes into the second half.

Then hooker Brits produced a touch of
magic worthy of a half-back when he found space and directed an
inch-perfect kick into the corner for the chasing Ashton but he was once
again thwarted by Brown's first-class covering.

Evans missed a 52nd-minute penalty
kick for Harlequins and, three minutes later, Farrell kicked the
visitors ahead after Quins were penalised at the breakdown.

Pure gold: Mo Farah does the Mobot with the Harlequins mascots and daughter Rihanna

Pure gold: Mo Farah does the Mobot with the Harlequins mascots and daughter Rihanna

Evans was off-target again in the 62nd
minute after Sarries' replacement prop Mako Vunipola was penalised for
entering a ruck from the side.

But Evans made no mistake from in
front of the posts in the 66th minute after Saracens' replacement lock
George Kruis, who had only been on the pitch for 12 minutes, was
yellow-carded for hands in the ruck.

Evans then missed another penalty shot before Farrell kicked the winner in the 74th minute.

Saracens 9 Leicester 9: Toby Flood outshines Owen Farrell

Saracens 9 Leicester 9: Flood outshines Farrell as title contenders share spoils at Wembley

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UPDATED:

17:09 GMT, 15 September 2012

Former England fly-half Charlie Hodgson went from hero to villain as the battle of the Red Rose No 10s past and present ended in stalemate at Wembley.

After replacing the woefully off-colour Owen Farrell early in the second half Hodgson's kicking – both from the tee and in open play – dragged Saracens back into the game.

However, after kicking two penalties in quick succession to level proceedings, the 31-year-old was off target with a last-gasp drop goal in front of the posts.

Close call: Flood (above) and Hodgson (below) both missed late drop goal attempts

Close call: Flood (above) and Hodgson (below) both missed late drop goal attempts

Close call: Flood (above) and Hodgson (below) both missed late drop goal attempts
MATCH FACTS

Saracens: Pens: Farrell, Hodgson 2.

Saracens: Goode, Ashton, Tomkins, Barritt, Short, Farrell, de Kock, Vunipola, Brits, Nieto, Borthwick, Botha, Brown, Wray, Joubert.

Replacements: Wyles for Short (60), Hodgson for Farrell (52), Wigglesworth for de Kock (52), Gill for Vunipola (66), Smit for Brits (66), Du Plessis for Nieto (48), Hargreaves for Botha (65), Fraser for Wray (71).

Leicester: Pens: Flood 3.

Leicester: Murphy, Hamilton, Tuilagi, Allen, Goneva, Flood, Harrison, Mulipola, T Youngs, Cole, Kitchener, Parling, Mafi, Salvi, Waldrom.

Replacements: Smith for Murphy (15), Stankovich for Mulipola (64), Chuter for T. Youngs (71), Castrogiovanni for Cole (50), Crane for Waldrom (62).

Not Used: Andrew, Phibbs, Ford.

Another England fly-half, Toby Flood,
kicked the three penalties that had seemingly put Leicester on course
for victory but the Tigers pivot was also off-target with a drop-goal
attempt with the last kick of the game as the points were shared.

The place-kicking battle started early, with Flood successful with two penalties inside the first six minutes.

Sarries barely got out of their own half early on but slowly came into
the match and could have reduced the deficit on 10 minutes.

But in a sign of what was to follow in a dismal first half for Farrell,
making his first start of the season, the 20-year-old dragged his effort
wide – the first of four misses from five attempts.

Leicester skipper Geordan Murphy was forced off through injury after 14
minutes, replaced by Matt Smith, before Farrell failed to take advantage
with his next penalty attempt – dragging his effort off target from 40
metres.

The Tigers slowly took a grip on the game and enjoyed an impressive
spell of possession, Vereniki Goneva and Scott Hamilton nearly linking
up to produce the first try but for the timely intervention of Alex
Goode on the left wing.

Bad day at the office: Farrell (right) is consoled by captain Steve Bortwick after missing another penalty

Bad day at the office: Farrell (right) is consoled by captain Steve Bortwick after missing another penalty

Despite sustained pressure they had to settle for a penalty, Flood
extending the lead to nine with his third success on the half-hour mark.

Farrell finally got himself off the mark with his fourth penalty attempt
on 34 minutes but he was wayward again with the last kick of the first
half to leave the margin at 9-3.

Sarries kept the faith with their misfiring fly-half in the early stages
of the second half but Hodgson joined the fray in the 51st minute and
seconds later succeeded where Farrell had failed.

Powerhouse: Manu Tuilagi bursts through for Leicester

Powerhouse: Manu Tuilagi bursts through for Leicester

The former Sale No 10 – who retired from international duty in the
summer – kicked Sarries to victory against his old club last week and he
found his range immediately after Tigers were penalised for coming in
at the side.

The scores were level before the hour mark when Hodgson made it two from
two. Julian Salvi did not roll away quickly enough and the 31-year-old
duly slotted the penalty to set up a grandstand finish.

Leicester had the next chance to restore their lead on 68 minutes but
Flood pulled his kickable penalty attempt wide for his first miss of the
day at a most inopportune moment.

Title contenders: The two sides met in last season's play-off semi-final

Title contenders: The two sides met in last season's play-off semi-final

Title contenders: The two sides met in last season's play-off semi-final

Sarries wasted a chance on the counter-attack after some quick thinking
by Goode, Richard Wigglesworth knocking on with a gap looking to have
opened up.

A Saracens turnover and a kick ahead from Hodgson forced Leicester to
concede a line-out within metres of their line heading into the last
five minutes.

Safe line-out ball allowed Sarries to set-up the replacement fly-half
with a drop-goal attempt in front of the posts but Hodgson sliced it
wide.

Leicester got themselves down the other end of the field to give Flood
his chance to be the hero but his effort was just wide as the points
were shared.

Centre of attention: Brad Barritt takes on Scott Hamilton

Centre of attention: Brad Barritt takes on Scott Hamilton

England 57 Barbarians 26: Ashton returns to form with Twickenham treble

England 57 Barbarians 26: Ashton returns to form with Twickenham treble

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UPDATED:

15:51 GMT, 27 May 2012

Chris Ashton rediscovered his scoring touch with a Twickenham hat-trick as England warmed up for their tour of South Africa with a comfortable victory over the Barbarians.

Ashton, the joint-leading try-scorer at the World Cup, had drawn a blank in each of his last six Test matches but he roamed menacingly and touched down twice before the interval and once after.

Although this was not a capped international, a third hat-trick in England colours was a timely confidence boost for Ashton before next month's three-Test series against the Springboks.

Hat-trick hero: Chris Ashton of England evades Paul Sackey to score a try

Hat-trick hero: Chris Ashton of England evades Paul Sackey to score a try

MATCH FACTS

England: Tries: Ashton 3, Hartley, Wade, Wigglesworth,
Joseph 2. Cons: Farrell 7. Pens: Farrell.

England: Foden, Ashton, Barritt, Farrell, Wade, Hodgson,
Dickson, Stevens, Hartley, Doran-Jones, Botha, Palmer, Johnson,
Fearns, Dowson.

Replacements: Goode for Foden (50), Joseph for Hodgson (50),
Wigglesworth for Dickson (61), Mullan for Stevens (41),
Launchbury for Botha (56), Gibson for Fearns (56),
Mears for Dowson (60).

Barbarians: Tries: Muliaina 2, Tindall, Taele.

Cons: Donald 2, Contepomi.

Barbarians: Muliaina, Sackey, Laulala, Tindall, Balshaw,
Donald, Lawson, Tialata, Smit, Afoa, Chisholm, A. van Zyl,
Joubert, Qera, Beattie.

Replacements: Tagicakibau for Sackey (44), Contepomi for Tindall (68), Fillol for Lawson (57), Jones for Tialata (60), August for Smit (60), Lakafia for Qera (60), Taele for Beattie (68).

Att: 42,269

Ref: John Lacey (Ireland).

The tries were taken soberly too. There was no sign of the elaborate and controversial 'Ash Splash' dive he pledged to shelve as 'the end of an era'.

England hooker Dylan Hartley accepted his own opportunity to make a fresh start with both hands, scoring a try and organising England's forward effort effectively on his return from an eight-week biting ban.

Christian Wade capped a busy afternoon on his senior debut with a try just before the hour and England's win was rounded off by a try from Richard Wigglesworth and two from Jonathan Joseph.

Of those who caught the eye without making the scoresheet, Mouritz Botha produced a barnstorming second row performance and Tom Johnson delivered a strong display on the blindside flank.

England coach Stuart Lancaster still has issues to resolve before the Test series, not least over who should start at fly-half after a rusty performance from Owen Farrell.

England will also be disappointed to have conceded four tries to the Barbarians, one of which was scored by former red rose centre Mike Tindall.

Mils Muliaina scored the Barbarians' first two tries and Biarritz's Pelu Taele added the other late on.

The England touring squad will be boosted by the 18-strong Harlequins and Leicester contingent, who were unavailable after Saturday's sensational Aviva Premiership final.

Phil Dowson captained England in the absence of Chris Robshaw but there will be question marks over his fitness after he left the game on a stretcher.

Farrell, who started at inside centre before switching to fly-half, kicked England into an early lead before scuffing his next penalty shot.

Muted: Ashton is congratulated by Owen Farrell (left) and Charlie Hodgson

Muted: Ashton is congratulated by Owen Farrell (left) and Charlie Hodgson

England made a pragmatic start but soon came close to engineering the opening try when Farrell's grubber kick skipped into touch just ahead of Wade.

Lee Dickson then made two sniping runs, perhaps a response to Danny Care's performance on Saturday, before creating the opening try with an inside ball for Ashton to score.

England missed an opportunity when Farrell passed too early to Botha and Brad Barritt then knocked on the offload.

It was a frustrating inaccuracy from England and it cost them as the Barbarians moved up-field and Iain Balshaw's kick fell for Muliaina to touch down.

England responded immediately. Dowson instructed Farrell to kick a penalty for touch so England could exploit their dominant lineout drive, and they executed it to perfection with Hartley touching down.

Familiar face: Mike Tindall (centre) scored a try for the Barbarians

Familiar face: Mike Tindall (centre) scored a try for the Barbarians

Farrell scuffed another kick but then supplied the pass for Ashton to score a second try, after a break from Hartley, as England took control.

The complexion of the game changed in the six minutes before half-time and England were back in the try-scoring routine after the interval.
Ashton had already made one break, which was halted expertly by Muliaini, when he hacked on a loose ball to complete his hat-trick.

The Barbarians responded with Muliaina's second try after a moment of attacking quality from Casey Laulala, who drew two defenders and supplied the one-handed scoring pass.

Tom Palmer knocked on with a try at his mercy after good approach play from Botha but England kept the pressure on and worked an overlap for Wade to score.

Plucked: Barbarians' full back MilsMuliaina jumps for the ball at Twickenham

Plucked: Barbarians' full back Mils Muliaina jumps for the ball at Twickenham

England began to ring the changes and worked a delightful try for new scrum-half Richard Wigglesworth, who finished off an Ashton break after a delightful pass from Tom Johnston.

Tindall marked his Twickenham return with a try for the Barbarians after taking a quick tap penalty and England will have been disappointed to concede again, to Pelu Taele.

But Jonathan Joseph came off the bench to wrap up the victory with two tries of his own.

Dylan Hartley in England squad v Barbarians

Hartley to make England return against Barbarians after bite ban expires

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UPDATED:

15:18 GMT, 15 May 2012

Dylan Hartley will return from an eight-week biting ban in England's traditional pre-tour match against the Barbarians at Twickenham on May 27.

Hartley's suspension, for biting Stephen Ferris in England's RBS 6 Nations victory over Ireland in March, expired on Monday.

The Northampton captain has been named in a 27-man England squad that does not feature any players from Leicester or Harlequins, who meet in the Aviva Premiership final the previous day.

Recall: Dylan Hartley (centre) is set to face the Barbarians at Twickenham

Recall: Dylan Hartley (centre) is set to face the Barbarians at Twickenham

Freddie Burns, Jamie Gibson, Haydn Thomas and Richard Wigglesworth have all been drafted into the squad from outside England's touring party for the non-cap international.

England head to South Africa after the Barbarians game for a five-match tour, which includes a three-Test series against the Springboks.

England coach Stuart Lancaster said: 'This match has become an established fixture in the season and is hugely important for us ahead of the tour.

Old faces: Mike Tindall (left) will feature for the Barbarians against England

Old faces: Mike Tindall (left) will feature for the Barbarians against England

'We will obviously be without the Leicester and Harlequins players – and best of luck to both those teams in the Aviva Premiership final – but this is a great opportunity for the rest of the squad, as well as Freddie, Jamie, Richard and Haydn, to put a marker down before we leave for the tour.'

England will face a Barbarians side featuring former captain Mike Tindall and featuring Wales fly-half Stephen Jones, plus Samoan pair Sailosi Tagicakibau and Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu.

Leicester 21 Saracens 15: George Ford guides Tigers to eighth Aviva Premiership final

Leicester 21 Saracens 15: Teen Ford guides Tigers to eighth Aviva Premiership final

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UPDATED:

21:02 GMT, 13 May 2012

George Ford is on course to parade his teenage talents at Twickenham, as Toby Flood is almost certain to miss Leicester's latest appearance in the Aviva Premiership Final and England's summer tour through injury.

On Saturday, 19-year-old Ford, the IRB Young Player of the Year, illustrated why he was deemed worthy of such a prestigious award by showing remarkable composure to guide the Tigers into their eighth consecutive final with a 24-15 win over champions Saracens.

Going places: George Ford shows his pace

Going places: George Ford shows his pace

The son of former England defence coach Mike Ford had a major hand in both Leicester tries and kicked 14 points.

He finished on the winning side
despite the efforts of his former national Under 20 team-mate Owen
Farrell, who landed five penalties for the visitors.

Tiger's roar: Alesana Tuilagi celebrates after scoring the first try at Welford Road

Tiger's roar: Alesana Tuilagi celebrates after scoring the first try at Welford Road

MATCH FACTS

Leicester: Murphy, Agulla, M. Tuilagi, Allen, A. Tuilagi, Ford, B. Youngs, Ayerza, Chuter, Cole, Skivington, Parling, Mafi, Newby, Waldrom.

Replacements: Castrogiovanni for Cole (58).

Not Used: T. Youngs, Mulipola, Kitchener, Woods, Harrison, Twelvetrees, Hamilton.

Tries: A. Tuilagi, Mafi.

Cons: Ford.

Pens: Ford 4.

Saracens: Goode, Strettle, Farrell, B. Barritt, Wyles, Hodgson, de Kock, Gill, Brits, Stevens, Borthwick, Botha, Wray, Fraser, Joubert.

Replacements: Short for Strettle (66), Powell for B. Barritt (78), Smit for Gill (78), George for Brits (78), Nieto for Stevens (62).

Not Used: Vyvyan, Kruis, Wigglesworth.

Pens: Farrell 5.

Attendance: 20,173

Referee: Dave Pearson (RFU).

Officially, Ford Jnr was a late replacement for Flood, who had been named in the Tigers starting XV.

In reality, the more experienced Englishman was never in contention and Sportsmail understands that the ankle injury he sustained against Bath on May 5 is worse than first thought.

Flood is set to be ruled out of
travelling to South Africa with England for next month's three-Test tour
against the Springboks, leaving Farrell to continue in the Test No 10
shirt.

Gloucester's Freddie Burns is the man most likely to be called into the squad as a replacement fly-half.

Flood's absence would also clear the
way for Ford to resume the conductor's duties in a second final of the
season, having wielded the baton with aplomb when Leicester won the LV
Cup in March.

On this occasion, it was the rookie's
astute, deep pass which sent Alesana Tuilagi clear for a try on his
last home appearance for the Midlands club.

The young playmaker's break then paved the way for Steve Mafi's second-half try.

Ford said: 'I was nervous before the
game, but there were lads out there with lots of experience and they
helped me out massively.'

Touching down: Leicester's Steve Mafi dives over to score his side's second try of the match

Touching down: Leicester's Steve Mafi dives over to score his side's second try of the match

Defensive duties: Leicester scrum-half Ben Youngs kicks the ball upfield at Welford Road

Defensive duties: Leicester scrum-half Ben Youngs kicks the ball upfield at Welford Road

Although Ford accepts that Flood is
first choice at Leicester, he added: 'You want to develop. your own game
so it can get quite frustrating at times but when opportunities come
like this you have to take them.'

Despite having had limited game time
for his club, Ford was considered by Stuart Lancaster for a place in
England's senior tour squad, but a decision was made in consultation
with the Tigers to leave him at home, to concentrate on bulking up a
comparatively slight frame.

Joe Marler looks bound for his
England debut after helping Harlequins' emerging front row leave
Northampton's heavyweights Brian Mujati and Soane Tonga'uiha substituted
and exhausted.

Trusty boot: Saracens star Owen Farrell kicks a penalty during the Aviva Premiership semi-final

Trusty boot: Saracens star Owen Farrell kicks a penalty during the Aviva Premiership semi-final

The 21-year-old has gained the
headlines for his Mohican-style haircut, but the talk now is of his
rapidly improving all-action style and strong scrummaging.

Marler scored the crucial try in
this semi-final victory and then had the confidence to declare that he
and his colleagues were confident of taking on any team after Quins came
back from a 23-15 deficit.

His try, following a rolling maul
involving 13 colleagues, levelled the scores at 23-23 before Nick Evans
slotted the match-winning conversion.

Foot in touch: Leicester back Alesana Tuilagi makes a try-saving tackle on David Strettle

Foot in touch: Leicester back Alesana Tuilagi makes a try-saving tackle on David Strettle

Marler believes Quins' improvement up
front began this time last year when they beat Stade Francais in the
European Challenge Cup final after a semi-final trip to Limerick to beat
Munster.

On the evidence of his energetic
display in which he overpowered Mujati on a personal level, he is set
for his senior England debut on the tour to South Africa.

With Bath's David Wilson out of the
trip due to a wrist injury, Marler is now the back-up for Andrew
Corbisiero, the London Irish loosehead who has been picked for the trip
despite a recent operation on a bicep injury.

Catch me if you can: Tigers centre Manu Tuilagi breaks through a tackle

Catch me if you can: Tigers centre Manu Tuilagi breaks through a tackle

Rumble: Ernst Joubert is tackled by Leicester prop Dan Cole (second right)

Rumble: Ernst Joubert is tackled by Leicester prop Dan Cole (second right)

Leicester 21 Saracens 15: Tigers set up Premiership final against Harlequins

Leicester 21 Saracens 15: Tigers end Sarries' reign to set up Quins final date

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UPDATED:

18:40 GMT, 12 May 2012

Teenager George Ford drove Leicester into a remarkable eighth successive Premiership final as Tigers ended Saracens' reign as English champions.

The 19-year-old, son of former England defence coach Mike Ford, kicked four penalties and a conversion after replacing ankle injury victim Toby Flood.

Ford's inclusion was the headline selection by Tigers, especially as they had named Flood on their official team sheet, but he did not let down a club in pursuit of its 10th league title.

Tiger's roar: Alesana Tuilagi celebrates after scoring the first try at Welford Road

Tiger's roar: Alesana Tuilagi celebrates after scoring the first try at Welford Road

HEADER HERE

Leicester: Murphy, Agulla, M. Tuilagi, Allen, A. Tuilagi, Ford, B. Youngs, Ayerza, Chuter, Cole, Skivington, Parling, Mafi, Newby, Waldrom.

Replacements: Castrogiovanni for Cole (58).

Not Used: T. Youngs, Mulipola, Kitchener, Woods, Harrison, Twelvetrees, Hamilton.

Tries: A. Tuilagi, Mafi.

Cons: Ford.

Pens: Ford 4.

Saracens: Goode, Strettle, Farrell, B. Barritt, Wyles, Hodgson, de Kock, Gill, Brits, Stevens, Borthwick, Botha, Wray, Fraser, Joubert.

Replacements: Short for Strettle (66), Powell for B. Barritt (78), Smit for Gill (78), George for Brits (78), Nieto for Stevens (62).

Not Used: Vyvyan, Kruis, Wigglesworth.

Pens: Farrell 5.

Attendance: 20,173

Referee: Dave Pearson (RFU).

In addition to his priceless points from the boot, Ford also created both Leicester tries through slick passing that cut open a Saracens defence renowned for its Scrooge-like quality.

Wing Alesana Tuilagi, on his final Tigers appearance at Welford Road before moving to Japan, touched down midway through the first half, while flanker Steve Mafi also crossed to thwart a Saracens side whose points came from five Owen Farrell penalties.

Leicester slumped to 11th in the Premiership after their first six games, of which they lost five, but 14 subsequent victories and a draw saw them climb to just one point behind regular season leaders Harlequins.

And it was Ford, current junior world
player of the year, who showed admirable maturity to steer Leicester
towards a Twickenham appointment with Quins on May 26.

England international Flood will
probably return for the final, yet there can be no doubting Ford's
contribution to Tigers during a season when he also kicked 16 points in
their LV= Cup final victory over Northampton.

Saracens, despite leading 12-10 just
before the break, were punished for their failure to convert a number of
promising attacking positions into points.

Touching down: Leicester's Steve Mafi dives over to score his side's second try of the match

Touching down: Leicester's Steve Mafi dives over to score his side's second try of the match

Defensive duties: Leicester scrum-half Ben Youngs kicks the ball upfield at Welford Road

Defensive duties: Leicester scrum-half Ben Youngs kicks the ball upfield at Welford Road

And Leicester needed no second invitation to capitalise as fortress Welford Road once again lived up to its reputation for visiting teams.

Tigers' official explanation for Flood's absence was that he failed a late fitness test, while flanker Craig Newby took over from Julian Salvi (hamstring), who Leicester said was also a late cry-off.

Farrell lined up at outside centre for Saracens, with Charlie Hodgson wearing the number 10 shirt and young flankers Jackson Wray and Will Fraser also featuring as the visitors targeted a fourth successive victory on Leicester soil.

Trusty boot: Saracens star Owen Farrell kicks a penalty during the Aviva Premiership semi-final

Trusty boot: Saracens star Owen Farrell kicks a penalty during the Aviva Premiership semi-final

Farrell and Ford exchanged early penalties, but Saracens looked the most threatening side early on, and they should have posted a 12th-minute try.

Fraser made a superb touchline break before full-back Alex Goode found David Strettle, but although the England wing avoided Tuilagi's tackle, he lost control of the ball as he stretched for a one-handed touchdown.

Farrell then put Saracens back in front with a short-range penalty, yet Leicester bounced back midway through the half when Samoa international Tuilagi powered over for his 63rd Tigers try after a superbly-timed Ford pass.

Foot in touch: Leicester back Alesana Tuilagi makes a try-saving tackle on David Strettle

Foot in touch: Leicester back Alesana Tuilagi makes a try-saving tackle on David Strettle

Ford added the conversion, hoisting Leicester 10-6 ahead as Saracens suddenly found themselves in reverse gear, courtesy of Tigers cranking up intensity levels.

A third Farrell penalty cut the gap to a point, and then after he missed an angled strike, his fourth successful goal put Saracens 12-10 in front nearing the end of a ferociously-intense first period.
Ford, though, had the final say, displaying an unflappable temperament when he bisected the posts from just inside Saracens' half to secure a 13-12 interval advantage for Tigers.

Catch me if you can: Tigers centre Manu Tuilagi breaks through a tackle

Catch me if you can: Tigers centre Manu Tuilagi breaks through a tackle

Ford missed an early second half penalty, yet his response was both audacious and brilliant, slashing through Saracens' midfield defence and allowing Leicester to spin possession wide that ended with Mafi crossing.

Saracens breathed a collective sigh of relief when Ford drifted the conversion wide, but his successful penalty just three minutes later left the visitors more than a converted try adrift.

Rumble: Ernst Joubert is tackled by Leicester prop Dan Cole (second right)

Rumble: Ernst Joubert is tackled by Leicester prop Dan Cole (second right)

Farrell's fifth successful penalty ensured a gripping final quarter, but Tigers had more than enough left in the tank to cross the finishing line.

Saracens, despite the best efforts of workaholic forwards Schalk Brits, prop Matt Stevens and skipper Steve Borthwick, had to concede second best as Leicester began preparing for a familiar journey to Twickenham in two weeks' time.

And Ford's final penalty success five minutes from time meant Leicester could finally breathe easily, content that it was yet another case of mission accomplished in a major semi-final.

SIX NATIONS 2012: England call up Joe Launchbury and Karl Dickson

Launchbury shocked at England call after Wasps lock joins training squad

Surprise call: Joe Launchbury

Surprise call: Joe Launchbury

England have called Wasps lock Joe Launchbury and Harlequins scrum-half Karl Dickson into their RBS Six Nations training squad.

Launchbury, 20, replaces Northampton lock Courtney Lawes, who will miss the remainder of England's Six Nations campaign with a shin complaint.

Dickson, the elder brother of England's first-choice scrum-half Lee, comes into the squad after Joe Simpson dislocated his shoulder in Wasps' victory over London Irish at the weekend.

Both players will join the England camp at their Pennyhill Park base on Monday night.

Launchbury, England's players' player of the tournament at the 2011 Under-20 World Cup, said: 'I am totally shocked but thrilled to get the chance to train with the squad.

'It was a totally unexpected call especially as I have missed so much of this season but it's a great opportunity for me to pick up some really valuable experience at the highest level.

'I'm really looking forward to it.'

Call: Karl Dickson has also joined England's Six Nation's training squad

Call: Karl Dickson has also joined England's Six Nation's training squad

Dickson was briefly drafted into the England set-up earlier in the championship when his brother suffered a fractured bone in his hand.

England are without Saracens' injured scrum-half Richard Wigglesworth and Danny Care, who is serving an international suspension following his conviction for drink driving.