European Challenge Cup - Quarter-Finals
Saracens complete semi-final line-up
April 12, 2009

Saracens claimed the last remaining place in this season's European Challenge Cup semi-finals with a comprehensive 32-13 victory over Newcastle at Vicarage Road.

Fly-half Glen Jackson kicked 22 points for the hosts with two tries in five first-half minutes from Brad Barritt and Cencus Johnston putting them on course for victory. Jackson's haul consisted of five penalties, two conversions and a drop goal and he constantly pegged the visitors back with his accurate tactical kicking.

The Falcons rallied with a second half try from Danny Williams and a consolation score from Phil Dowson but Saracens were not to be denied and as a reward will face Northampton Saints in the last four.

Worcester secured their place in the European Challenge Cup semi-finals thanks to an exciting 29-18 win over Brive at Sixways.

Mike Ruddock's side, who were assured of their Guinness Premiership survival last weekend, took early control of the match thanks to a try from winger Marcel Garvey and a penalty from fly-half Matthew Jones. With Brive's England fly-half Andy Goode putting in a poor performance the Warriors were soon further ahead thanks to skipper Pat Sanderson.

With Goode replaced before the half-time whistle, Brive hit back through centre Ronnie Cooke. Cooke crossed either side of half-time to bring his side back to within two points, but the Warriors were not to be denied. Centre Alex Grove scored a bizarre try after Brive failed to gather the ball after a missed Warriors penalty attempt before Garvey crossed for his second try to seal their semi-final appointment with Bourgoin.

Northampton Saints became the second English side to secure their safe passage in to the last four with a comprehensive 42-13 win over Connacht at Franklin's Gardens. The Saints were powered by an immaculate kicking performance by fly-half Stephen Myler, who slotted six consecutive penalties.

Connacht were briefly ahead after half-time thanks to a try from Ray Ofisa, but the home side pulled effortessly clear thanks to second-half tries from Neil Best, Joe Ansbro, Bruce Reihana and Chris Mayor. The Saints' win sets up a semi-final against the winner of Sunday's clash between Newcastle and Saracens.

On Thursday, Bourgoin booked their place in the semis with a surprise 32-30 victory over London Irish in their quarter-final clash at the Madejski Stadium.

England international fullback Delon Armitage missed a conversion attempt with the last kick of the game that would have forced extra-time and as a result the previously undefeated Exiles were sent crashing out of the competition at the end of a rollercoaster encounter.

The French side looked assured of a semi-final place when replacement Matthieu Nicolas' try helped put them 10 points ahead with time almost up. But lock Nick Kennedy kicked a drop goal before flanker Steffon Armitage went over in the corner in a dramatic finale. But Armitage's brother Delon, who kicked 17 points, was off target with the conversion attempt to leave the Guinness Premiership as Irish's sole route for Heineken Cup qualification.

Bourgoin had taken the lead thanks to a try from fullback Anthony Forest, while the Exiles were kept in touch thanks to the kicking of Armitage and a try from centre Seilala Mapusua.

European Challenge Cup Semi-Finals: (May 1/2/3)
Bourgoin v Worcester (Stade Pierre Rajon)
Northampton v Saracens (Franklin's Gardens)


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