They will be joined there by champions Exeter or Newcastle, who meet at Sandy Park later but Billy Vunipola may not be with them. His latest comeback – he had played just 249 minutes in a year before this game – ended when he did not emerge after half-time having received treatment to his right leg. He wanted to play on, but Saracens’ management’s common sense intervened; there is confidence he will be fit for the final.
Vunipola’s opposite number, Nathan Hughes, lasted 66 minutes on his return from injury to put himself in contention to tour South Africa, but Wasps’ 21-year-old flanker Jack Willis – who has been called up by the watching Eddie Jones for the first time – hyperextended his knee and left the ground on crutches and with the joint in a brace. He looks unlikely to tour. Both returning No8s had shown a little early ring-rustiness – Hughes had the ball ripped from him by a winger, Sean Maitland – but they grew in authority. James Haskell, meanwhile, was in Windsor, not Barnet. A foot injury meant he was able to go to the Royal Wedding and has played his last game for Wasps.
Saracens outscored Wasps six tries to five as both teams looked to run from deep. Victory, though, was underpinned by a near-flawless performance from the man of the match Owen Farrell, who was successful with all 11 of his kicks and amassed 27 of Saracens’ 57 points - a record for a Premiership playoff - while barely making an error with ball in hand.
Farrell’s performance, as well as those of Nick Isiekwe and Mako Vunipola, will have delighted the watching Eddie Jones. The England coach did not travel alone; alongside him was Paul Gustard, his defence coach who is so strongly linked to the vacancy at Harelquins. Less pleasing will have been the injuries of Willis and Vunipola, who had received treatment on his hamstring.
Saracens’ appetite for confrontation and aggression were clear before the game even began as Farrell, ball in hand ready to kick-off, shouted down his opponents. Moments later, he was bursting through a gap before anyone else knew of its existence. That released Alex Lozowski who crossed under the post whilst also dishing out a sledge to his opponents. Vincent Koch crossed 10 minutes later.
They would start the second-half with equal energy as Farrell’s long touch-finding penalty, then grunt from the forwards and slick hands from the backs through Farrell and Alex Goode put Chris Wyles – playing at Allianz Park for the final time – in on the left. Farrell’s conversion made it 30-5.
Wasps refused to believe the game was ever beyond them, however. In both halves Wasps – through Jimmy Gopperth then Elliott Daly – came close in the corner, with both coming from sweeping attacking moves, only to be denied by an arm in touch.
They were undeterred. After Daly was denied by a surprising call from the TMO, they scored twice in three minutes – against a team who have not conceded a second half point in five games. Cipriani was central to both, kicking and long and clean to the corner; pressure from the forwards told and Jake Cooper-Wooley crashed over. Gopperth converted and in Wasps’ next move, Cipriani’s deft touch released Christian Wade on the angle, and Thomas Young crossed in the corner.
The pace on show was devastating, just as it was when Le Roux scored for the second time. This one came after lovely work from Cipriani in conjunction with Guy Thompson, who was on for Willis. When Wade scored late – by then, the game was finally beyond Wasps – Thompson was once more at the heart of it.
Saracens’ accuracy and intent meant they lasted that little bit longer. They matched Wasps’ four second-half tries, with Juan Figallo, Maro Itoje and Ben Spencer all crossing in the final quarter. They really will take some beating at Twickenham on Saturday.