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Saracens to play in two finals

Monday, May 19, 2014

LONDON - Saracens stayed on course for a domestic and European rugby double by beating London rivals Harlequins 31-17 in the English Premiership semi-finals yesterday.

Victory put Saracens into a May 31 Twickenham final against Northampton, 21-20 winners over Leicester on Friday.

Saracens could go into the domestic showpiece clash as the champions of Europe if they win their first European Cup final, against French title-holders Toulon, at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium next Sunday.

But Saracens, who finished top of the regular season standings, were made to fight hard by a Quins side who forced their way into the play-offs with a late charge.

Indeed the visitors, led 17-11 at half-time after Sarries were briefly down to 13 men.

However, second-half tries from Scotland's Kelly Brown and the England duo of Brad Barritt and Chris Ashton turned the match in Saracens' favour while Red Rose fly-half Owen Farrell kicked 16 points.

There was a worrying moment for England coach Stuart Lancaster when Harlequins' fullback Mike Brown, his first-choice No.15, limped off with a suspected hamstring injury in the second half.

Losing Brown would be a further problem for Lancaster, who already knows he will be unable to select players from Northampton and Saracens for the first Test against the world champion All Blacks in Auckland on June 7.

Brown and wing Ugo Monye scored both of Quins' tries, with former All Blacks stand-off Nick Evans adding a penalty and two conversions.

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