Edinburgh Rugby (7) 7 - 40 (14) Saracens

In challenging weather conditions, Edinburgh's last chance to impress in this season's Heineken Cup ended in defeat at Vicarage Road today (Sunday 20 January).

Head coach Michael Bradley said: "They scored five tries, they were the better side on the day and they deserved to win.

"I don't mind losing games if the basics are right but our scrum was up and down and there were too many other inconsistencies.

"I'm very, very disappointed for us and our fans. We're not good enough this year relative to last year, verus the opposition we've had. It's been hard to compare one year with another, though.

"I think Saracens and Munster are tougher opposition and those two sides went about their business well this year."

Following Saturday's change to the bench with David Denton ruled out following a fitness test, to be replaced on the bench by Perry Parker, there was a further late change in the replacements with Robert McAlpine taking the place of Roddy Grant late in the day.

The steady snowfall which began earlier in the morning continued relentlessly throughout the game causing both sides to deal with sliding tackles of a new degree and plenty of loose ball; it was the home side who coped better with the conditions, however, the whitewash becoming the greenwash as the lines were 'hoovered' minutes before kick-off.

Three penalties against Edinburgh in the opening 20-minutes period saw Andy Farrell put the home side 9-0 ahead as they harried the Edinburgh defence, forcing errors and taking their chances.

A neat chip from Barritt was covered by Ashton who put himself on top of the ball for the first try after 26 minutes, the conversion brushing the wrong side of the post.

Clearly rattled by the miss, Saracens made a run of handling errors, Edinburgh stepped up their game and a botched clearance kick from Wigglesworth gave Greig Tonks the chance to welly the ball towards the line and cross for the score. Laidlaw's conversion sailed effortlessly between the uprights to make it 14-7 on 32 minutes.

Edinburgh raised their game for the remainder of the first half but were unable to capitalise on the advantage and the seven-point difference remained as the half-time whistle sounded.

The first opportunity to score in the second half went to Saracens but Farrell again failed to slot the kick however he was back on his game within minutes as a somewhat controversial crossfield kick - the tee for a penalty having already made its way on to the pitch - found Ashton and gave the home side their second five-pointer at 45m, the conversion sliced, to make it 19-7.

Robin Hislop put in a shift up front, constantly challenging the experience of Matt Stevens, with Netani Talei putting in a shift as he did his best to find the gap at every opportunity and Steven Lawrie holding his own against the onslaught.

The snow picked up pace as Saracens piled on the pressure and despite some sterling efforts from Tonks to scoop up loose ball and try to keep the action out of the visitors half, a driving maul saw Stevens touch down for the third try, duly converted by Farrell to make it 26-7 going into the last 25 minutes.

Fired up by their desire to nail a fourth try and a bonus point home quarter final, it was Saracens who put their foot down. With ten minutes to go, an attempt by Barritt was ruled out by the TMO after great work from Dougie Fife held up the ball.

Five minutes later, however, a dummy from man-of-the-match Hodgson ended in a fourth try, duly converted by Farrell with a fifth, just to nail victory, from Wyles. The last kick of the game saw the convrsion slotted from Farrell to make it 40-7 at full time.

Edinburgh:
15. Greig Tonks; 14. Douglas Fife, 13. Ben Cairns, 12. Matt Scott, 11. Tim Visser; 10. Greig Laidlaw, 9. Richie Rees; 1. Robin Hislop, 2. Steve Lawrie, 3. Willem Nel, 4. Grant Gilchrist, 5. Sean Cox, 6. Stuart McInally, 7. Dimitri Basilaia, 8. Netani Talei.
Replacements:
16. Andy Titterrell (on for Hislop) 17. Alex Allan (on for Lawrie) 18. Geoff Cross (on for Nel), 19. Perry Parker (on for Cox) 20. Robert McAlpine (unused) 21. Piers Francis (on for Laidlaw) 22. Ben Atiga (on for Scott) 23. Lee Jones (on for Visser)

Saracens: 15 Chris Wyles; 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Owen Farrell, 12 Brad Barritt, 11 David Strettle; 10 Charlie Hodgson, 9 Richard Wigglesworth; 1 Mako Vunipola, 2 Schalk Brits, 3 Matt Stevens, 4 Steve Borthwick (capt), 5 George Kruis, 6 Kelly Brown, 7 Will Fraser, 8 Ernst Joubert.

Replacements: 16 John Smit, 17 Rhys Gill, 18 Petrus du Plessis, 19 Mouritz Botha, 20 Nick Fenton-Wells, 21 Neil de Kock, 22 Joel Tomkins, 23 Duncan Taylor.

Referee: Jerome Garces (FFR)
Assistant referees: Sebastien Cloute and Jerome Lamirand
Attendance: 5673