London – Chris Ashton scored two tries as holders Saracens booked their place in the semi-finals of the European Champions Cup with a 38-13 victory over Glasgow at London’s Allianz Park on Sunday.
Ashton’s double saw him move level with former France star Vincent Clerc’s tournament record of 36 tries and was a fitting way for the ex-England wing to mark his final European appearance at Saracens’ ground before he joins French club Toulon after the end of the season.
Victory saw Saracens set up an enticing semi-final away to Munster in Dublin later this month after the Irish giants beat Toulouse on Saturday.
Saracens, also the English Premiership champions and bidding for a “double double”, outscored Glasgow four tries to two, with centres Marcelo Bosch and Brad Barritt also crossing and the rest of their points kicked by England’s Owen Farrell.
Saracens had won their last 12 home games in the tournament and they came into the match on a back of a 53-10 rout of Bath in the Premiership.
But they were up against a Glasgow team who created the major shock of the pool stage with a 43-0 win away to English giants Leicester.
This was Glasgow’s first appearance in the knockout stages of Europe’s premier club tournament and they had roughly half the support in a capacity crowd of 15,000.
Saracens nearly had two tries in the opening four minutes but Ashton and fellow wing Sean Maitland were denied in opposite corners by great cover tackles from Lee Jones and Stuart Hogg.
Saracens pressure led to a simple penalty in front of the posts for Farrell before Glasgow flyhalf Finn Russell responded in kind.
Glasgow suffered a setback when Scotland lock Jonny Gray was forced to leave the field permanently in the 11th minute for a head injury assessment.
Farrell kicked Saracens into a 6-3 lead with another easy penalty following a high tackle.
He was off-target with a long-range effort but made it 9-3 in the 25th minute after England forward Maro Itoje won a breakdown penalty.
The try Saracens had been threatening arrived in the 31st minute.
Bosch and Barritt made ground before the ball was spun right to Ashton, who stepped inside Alex Dunbar.
Farrell missed the conversion but Saracens still led 14-3.
Ashton almost had another try on the stroke of half time but another fine cover effort from Scotland fullback Hogg forced him into touch.
Shortly after the break, an over-ambitious pass by Billy Vunipola to Farrell saw Saracens lose possession.
Russell hacked the loose ball forward but with Saracens’ Jackson Wray running back referee Jerome Garces ignored calls from Glasgow fans for an obstruction penalty.
Nevertheless Glasgow got the score they needed when Jones regathered Russell’s cross-kick and beat fullback Alex Goode and Ashton for a 48th-minute try.
Russell’s conversion hit the post though and Saracens were still two scores ahead at 14-8.
Just before the hour Saracens made the game safe with their second try.
A box kick from Glasgow’s Ali Price was held on the 22 by Ashton and the ball then taken up by Mako Vunipola and Richard Wigglesworth before Argentina’s Bosch was sent in.
Farrell converted to make it 21-8 and then added a penalty before skipper Barritt went over for a 73rd-minute try after good work by his pack.
Ashton and Glasgow’s Ryan Wilson exchanged late tries but the game had already been decided.