Rugby Union

Saracens survive against 14-man Ulster

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Football News

Saracens are through to the semi-finals of the Heineken Cup after a 17-15 win against 14-man Ulster at Ravenhill.

The hosts played almost the entire contest a player light, after full-back Jared Payne was dismissed for reckless contact in the air on Alex Goode with just four minutes on the clock.

It was a contentious decision met with uproar among the home fans, but their was little doubt about the danger of the incident as the Sarries man was knocked out on the pitch and taken away on a stretcher.

Rather than end Ulster's chances immediately, it made for a contest even more brutal than expected, as the visitors struggled to capitalise and match the early intensity. And, at the break, it was Mark Ansombe's side who were ahead thanks to the boot of Ruan Pienaar.

He gave his side the lead before Chris Ashton went over for the first of his two tries on the night. Owen Farrell failed to convert however, and two more Pienaar penalties made it 9-5 to the RaboDirect Pro 12 side at the interval.

Mouritz Botha got Sarries back in-front with the first score in the second period, and when Pienaar was forced off with a shoulder injury, the energy was briefly taken out of the 2012 finalists.

Paddy Jackson replaced the South African at the kicking tee, but his next effort would crucially hit the woodwork, before Ashton stretched the advantage of the Aviva Premiership leaders with an easy finish from Farrell's cross-field kick.

The England number ten then nailed his conversion from out wide - the hardest of his three attempts - and it was another crucial moment  as Jackson would go on to make his two next penalties in the closing stages of the contest.

It wasn't enough for valiant Ulster however, and it's Saracens who move into the last four - and they face Clermont Auvergne at Twickenham after their pulsating victory over Leicester Tigers earlier in the day.

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Chris Ashton
Rugby Union
Heineken Cup

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