Saracens saw their Heinekens Champions Cup hopes ended by La Rochelle, whose 24-10 win in Bordeuax earned them a semi-final against Exeter.

Ronan O'Gara's men made it 14 wins in a row on the pitch this season and last as they picked up a third Gallagher Premiership scalp of the campaign, having twice beaten Northampton in the pool stages and Gloucester in the round of 16.

Three-time winners Saracens did not get to grips with the refereeing interpretations of Ireland's Andrew Brace, conceding 18 penalties and missing 26 tackles. They also lost replacement hooker Tom Wolstencroft to a yellow card at the end.

The holders fired the first shots with their early pressure earning them two penalties which Antoine Hastoy kicked in the first and fourth minutes.

The home outside-half then missed with a third shot a few minutes later.
All three kicks were down to their tigerish attitude at the breakdown, with Ben Earl, Billy Vunipola and Alex Goode all being punished in that phase.

Fijian Levani Botia, who switches between centre and openside flanker, was brilliant in the back and went on to win a stream of turnovers.

Saracens got their first chance to build pressure in the home 22 after Owen Farrell kicked a penalty to within 10 metres. They could not turn that raid into points, but picked up three from their next entry after 22 minutes when Farrell kicked a penalty from in front of the posts after former Saracens man Will Skelton had infringed.

That attack came at a high cost as Saracens lost number eight Billy Vunipola to what looked like a serious injury to his right knee. The England back row man tried to limp off, but was eventually taken to the dressing room by stretcher and watched the second half on crutches.

Jackson Wray came on to replace him and gave Hastoy a fourth shot at goal just before the half-hour mark when Botica turned him over. Hastoy hit the target and then six minutes later converted a great try from his half-back partner Tawera Kerr-Barlow.

The move began on halfway, with Skelton leading the route one charge. Hooker Pierre Bourgarit was the next to carry, before prop Reda Wardi joined the party. By now the champions were deep in the Saracens 22 and Kerr-Barlow used his number eight Gregory Alldritt as a runaround post before finding a gaping hole to exploit to claim the try.

That made it 16-3 to the home side at the break and left the Saracens with a mountain to climb to get back into the game.

The task got even harder when Kerr-Barlow picked up his second try of the match in the 58th minute. Full-back Brice Dulin made ground over halfway and Kerr-Barlow went right from the ruck. The outstanding Botia joined the back line and dummied his way past Farrell before giving his scrum-half an inside pass to reach the line.

Saracens finally managed to hit back with a try from a close-range tap penalty by replacement prop Eroni Mawi at the posts, which Farrell easily improved to cut the gap temporarily to 11 points.

Hastoy extended that to 14 with another penalty, but then La Rochelle had to show the defensive side to their game as they held up Earl and then Maro Itoje over their line with Dulin in the sin-bin for a high tackle.