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Chris Ashton hat-trick spurs Saracens to big win at Worcester

Chris Ashton scored a hat-trick as Saracens warmed up for next Saturday's European Cup Champions final with a comprehensive 43-19 win over Worcester at Sixways.

The hosts led 14-7 after 25 minutes but fell away badly for their fourth consecutive league defeat, during which they have conceded 178 points.

An outstanding first-half performance from Alex Goode tormented the Warriors, with the full-back a key figure as the visitors touched down four times before the interval.

Saracens' six tries came from Ashton (three) , Neil de Kock, Samu Vuinsa and Ben Ransom. Charlie Hodgson converted five and kicked a penalty.

Cooper Vuna scored two tries for Worcester, with Andy Symons also touching down and Tom Heathcote converting two.

Worcester began strongly to take a third-minute lead. The Warriors declined a kickable penalty in favour of an attacking line-out and were rewarded when the hosts secured possession to maintain the pressure for Symons to force his way over for the try which Heathcote converted.

Within four minutes, Saracens were level when Hodgson and Goode combined cleverly to send De Kock over for the try. There was a hint of a couple of forward passes in the movement but, after a TMO review, the try was awarded for Hodgson to convert.

Hodgson missed a straightforward penalty attempt before the home side scored a splendid try. From the first scrum of the game, Worcester produced a flowing 50-metre movement, which culminated in Vuna finishing powerfully in the corner for Heathcote to convert and the hosts led 14-7 at the end of the first quarter.

Saracens suffered a further blow when De Kock limped off to be replaced by Ben Spencer but they overcame this to score their second try when an excellent run from Goode split the Warriors' defence to send Ashton racing away.

Hodgson was off target with the conversion but his penalty after 32 minutes put his side in front for the first time.

Minutes later, Hodgson had a chance to extend that lead by kicking another penalty but Saracens opted for the driving line-out and it proved the correct choice as Vunisa crashed over.

With the last movement of the half, Saracens collected their bonus point when Ashton scored his second after he took advantage of a clever chip ahead from Goode. Hodgson converted both tries to give Saracens a deserved 29-14 half-time lead.

The outstanding Goode was replaced within two minutes of the restart as Saracens sought to keep him fresh for next week's battle. He was replaced by Ransom and, with both sides making changes, the game was less frenetic than in the first half until Ashton popped up to collect a kick through from Ransom to complete his hat-trick.

Worcester brought on Alex Grove for his 153rd and final appearance for after 10 years at Sixways. He replaced Symons, who was also playing his farewell game as he departs for London Irish next season.

After 66 minutes, Ransom scored Saracens' sixth try to emphasise the visitors' superiority with Hodgson's conversion giving him a tally of 13 points, but Worcester had the final say when Bryce Heem broke out of defence to give Vuna a second try.


From Belfast Telegraph