Kiwi coaches’ teams crash out of English rugby premiership semifinals
Former Hurricanes coach Chris Boyd is heading home without a trophy after four years in England and Tabai Matson’s season has also ended without any silverware.
Boyd watched his Northampton Saints side lose 27-14 to the Leicester Tigers on Saturday (Sunday NZ time) in his final game as the Midlands club’s director of rugby.
Matson took over the director of rugby role at champions Harlequins this term, but they lost their semifinal to Saracens, 34-17 on Friday (Saturday NZ time).
Saracens’ victory means former Crusaders wing Sean Maitland is set to play in another Premiership final at Twickenham.
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The 33-year-old former Scotland international lined up on the right wing against Harlequins in a backline boasting England stars Owen Farrell, Eliot Daly and Max Malins and Wales test centre Nick Tompkins.
Openside flanker Ben Earl – the Premiership player of the year but unwanted by England coach Eddie Jones – scored a hat-trick of tries for Saracens, who had to overcome a nine-point deficit.
Tompkins and Wales scrumhalf Aled Davies also scored.
Saracens had three players sinbinned in the second half – Daly, No 8 Billy Vunipola and Alex Lozowski – and were at times defending with just 13 men, but Harlequins could not capitalise.
Quins’ Kiwi backs coach Nick Evans said the former champions were “a little bit inaccurate at times’’ and Saracens “put us under a lot of pressure’’.
“I thought we struggled to make inroads in that first half in attack,’’ the ex-All Black told the BBC.
“We were only three points down and we were pretty happy with that, but a couple of errors after half-time put the game out of us. We rallied a little bit, but against a side like Sarries you’re not going to break that wall, even when they went down to 13 and 14.”
Boyd is returning to New Zealand to be nearer his family, but his dream of a Twickenham finale was dashed by a Leicester side inspired by George Ford.
The out-of-favour England flyhalf scored a try and kicked a conversion, four penalties and a dropped goal in their 27-14 win.
England fullback Freddie Steward also dotted down for the Tigers.
Northampton crossed the chalk just once, with fullback Tommy Freeman registering their 100th try of the season – an indicator of their attacking approach encouraged by Boyd.
United Rugby Championship
The inaugural United Rugby Championship final will be an all-South African affair between the Bulls and the Stormers, justifying the organisers’ decision to admit teams from the republic to the tournament involving clubs from Wales, Scotland, Ireland and Italy.
A penalty try proved crucial in the Bulls’ 27-26 semifinal win over PRO14 champions Leinster in Dublin.
Leinster captain James Ryan was sinbinned for the penalty try offence which gave the Bulls a 10-point lead.
Veteran Ireland test prop Cian Healy scored a late consolation try for Leinster, but the Irish side – beaten in the European Champions Cup final by La Rochelle – were disappointed again.
Ulster surrendered a five-point lead to a 14-man Stormers side in Cape Town, falling to a 17-15 defeat.
Dan McFarland, Ulster’s head coach, said the Northern Ireland side “handed it to them on a plate’’.
Ulster failed to capitalise after the Stormers’ replacement backrower Adrie Smith was sent off for a high tackle in the 70th minute.
Despite their one-man disadvantage, the Stormers rallied to score a late converted try to fullback Warrick Gelant to clinch the win.