Saracens

Saracens to launch appeal

The Premiership and European champions were ruled to have failed to disclose payments and exceeded the ceiling for payments to players in each of the last three seasons.

An Independent Panel upheld all charges, which were brought following a nine-month Premiership Rugby investigation.

Exeter Chiefs 31-13 Saracens

Two Owen Farrell penalties gave Sarries an early lead but Luke Cowan-Dickie's try and a Gareth Steenson penalty saw the home side go into the break ahead.

A Farrell penalty hit the post at the start of an error-strewn second half.

But scores from Harry Williams and Matt Kvesic, plus a penalty try, sealed the victory, with Ben Spencer's effort a mere consolation for Saracens.

The win moves Exeter three points above Saracens at the top of the table as they approach the midway point of the season.

 

     

Saracens hopeful over Vunipola

The powerful back-row forward returned from a fractured forearm suffered in January to feature in the 51-14 victory over London Irish on Sunday.

There were fears the 25-year-old had swiftly fallen victim to yet another fitness setback after he experienced an issue on Wednesday.

And while Vunipola is indeed set to miss Saturday's regular-season Premiership finale against Gloucester, Saracens' director of rugby McCall claimed his star should be back for the team's subsequent last-four showdown against Newcastle Falcons or Wasps. 

Saracens edge into last eight

Even on the back of a 62-14 victory over Northampton Saints on Saturday, the Pool 2 runners-up still faced the possibility of elimination with their fate in the hands of other teams.

But Premiership rivals Wasps did them a favour with a comfortable 26-7 victory over Ulster, securing Sarries' qualification as one of the three best second-placed teams, though they face a last-eight clash against a Leinster side who won all of their pool games.

McCall hails 'extraordinary' Vunipola

Vunipola had not featured for Sarries since suffering a knee injury in September and was reportedly in danger of missing the start of the Six Nations next month.

His return in Sunday's impressive victory put any doubts about his participation with England to bed as he produced a trademark all-action display at the Ricoh Arena.

And that was a joy to behold for McCall, who also welcomed back Maro Itoje from a broken jaw.

"I thought he [Vunipola] was great," the club's director of rugby told BT Sport.

Saracens, Scotland without Maitland

The wing sustained an injury to his right ankle in Sarries' loss to Wasps earlier this month and had surgery this week. He is expected to be out of action for 12 weeks.

Maitland has scored eight tries during his first season with the club after his move from London Irish and will be unavailable for the Premiership semi-final at Exeter Chiefs this Saturday.

The 28-year-old will also miss the decider on May 27, should the holders, who have retained their European Champions Cup crown, reach the domestic showpiece at Twickenham.

Saracens old boy Strettle a threat in Murrayfield final – McCall

The lively winger was a fans' favourite at Allianz Park, but Sarries' director of rugby McCall fears he could return to haunt them in Saturday's showdown as the English side seek a second consecutive Premiership and European double.

With 11 tries in 15 games, Strettle is likely to be Clermont's danger man at Murrayfield and McCall knows it. 

"Strettle is playing outstandingly well at the moment, he was playing outstandingly well when he left here," he said of the 33-year-old, who departed in 2015.

Saracens, Clermont seal progression

Sarries looked set to suffer a first defeat in Pool 3 when they trailed by seven points at Parc y Scarlets with the clock having ticked past 80 minutes and Will Skelton in the sin bin.

However, England playmaker Farrell then dummied his way through the home backline and passed inside for Chris Ashton to go over by the posts, before adding the extras to the winger's second try.

Ashton receives 13-week ban for biting

After a lengthy hearing on Tuesday, a disciplinary panel found Ashton guilty of biting Waller during Saracens' 27-12 win in the Premiership on Saturday.

Ashton contested two counts of biting, but was found guilty of one and banned for 13 weeks.

He is free to play again on Dec. 19.

"Having considered detailed evidence the panel concluded that during the course of a ruck Chris Ashton bit the arm of Alex Waller at a time that Mr Waller was attempting to clear him out," Philip Evans QC, chairman of the disciplinary panel, said.

Bite me once shame on you, bite me twice?

The 29-year-old former England international is alleged to have bitten Northampton prop Alex Waller during Sunday's English Premiership victory.

The two incidents occurred in the 24th and 25th minutes of the game at Allianz Park, which Saracens won 27-12.

Ashton's mouth appeared to make contact with Waller's hand during a tangle on the floor.

Photo: Photosport