Tompkins hat-trick spearheads Saracens romp into final

London (AFP) –


Nick Tompkins' hat-trick of tries in the second half inspired champions Saracens to a 44-19 thumping of Gloucester in the Premiership play-off on Saturday, capping a memorable 100th appearance for the centre.

Saracens will play Exeter in a repeat of last year's final at Twickenham next Saturday after the 2017 champions whipped Northampton 42-12 to reach their fourth successive final.

Saracens will be seeking to add the domestic title -- which would be their fourth in the last five years -- to the European crown they won a fortnight ago in beating Leinster.

Tompkins, who came on for captain Brad Barritt midway through the first half after the latter went off with a hamstring injury, ended any hopes Gloucester had of an upset comeback after they trailed 23-7 at the break.

Tompkins preferred to talk about the team effort rather than his personal exploit.

"We just try get to a point that nothing will set us back, nothing will upset our energy -- good or bad," he told BT Sport.

"That energy is what gets us through each week.

"Nothing brings us down. We found our rhythm in the later stages and didn't let anything dictate how we felt."

Although Gloucester started brightly in scoring a converted try through Ben Morgan within the first four minutes, the hotly-anticipated duel between Premiership player of the year Danny Cipriani and Saracens England fly-half Owen Farrell never really materialised.

Indeed Cipriani -- studiously ignored by England head coach Eddie Jones throughout the season -- fluffed his lines a bit.

A kick straight into touch and a misplaced pass gave Saracens possession which they eventually turned into points in the first half and contributed to Gloucester's seventh defeat in seven visits to Saracens.

Farrell may have missed a few kicks at goal but it was his grubber kick that teed up Sean Maitland nicely to touch down shortly after Morgan's try.

Further touchdowns by man of the match Ben Spencer -- after great work by Maro Itoje -- and Liam Williams put Saracens comfortably in front and Tompkins' one-man show added extra polish.

Exeter had looked in complete control of their play-off when they surged into a 14-0 lead -- Harry Williams and Joe Simmonds scoring tries with the latter converting both -- but the momentum changed in the 29th minute.

Exeter's Tom O'Flaherty was sin-binned and Saints awarded a penalty try, and a minute later Ahsee Tuala went over though Dan Biggar failed to convert to leave Saints only two points adrift at the break, 14-12.

O'Flaherty more than made up for his indiscretion when he scored a brilliant individual try early in the second half -- Dave Dennis having touched down already for Exeter which Simmonds converted -- to put them clear at 28-12.

Joe Simmonds' brother Sam marked his return after a long absence due to injury with a try and Chiefs rounded it off with a sixth try from Sam Hill as Simmonds converted both.