Saracens ran wild at Allianz Park scoring eleven tries in the process to book their place in the Heineken Cup last eight for a third successive season.
Winger David Strettle scored a hat-trick, with fellow wing-man Chris Ashton crossing for a well deserved brace. Other try scorers on the day were, Schalk Brits, Alex Goode, George Kruis, Jackson Wray and James Johnston.
The game began with Connacht enjoying taking the lead. The visitors would open the scoring after 5 minutes, when Parks gave his side the lead with a well struck penalty after Saracens were penalised at the breakdown in the aftermath of a charged down Richard Wigglesworth box-kick.
Saracens had the chance to draw level after their impressive scrum forced the Connacht eight into conceding a penalty, but Hodgson, who endured a mixed day from the kicking tee dragged his attempt wide.
Although Hodgson’s place kicking was somewhat errant, the former England pivot was in imperious form – distributing well, kicking intelligently and taking Richard Wigglesworth’s fine service a flat as possible on numerous occasions.
It came as no surprise then that Hodgson played a key role in Saracens opening try of the game. After Mako Vunipola broke the Connacht line with another trademark barnstorming run, Saracens recycled the ball quickly to find the outside half whose short pass was expertly collected by winger Chris Ashton. The England winger did magnificently well to finish in the right hand corner.
After Parks and Hodgson exchanged penalties Saracens were now breaking the Connacht defence with alarming regularity for Connacht head coach Pat Lam, with Billy Vunipola, brother Mako and hooker Schalk Brits all carrying well.
In the 20th minute the home side would cross for their second of the afternoon – David Strettle collecting Duncan Taylor’s pass to place the ball over the line to score what is probably the easiest of tries the free scoring winger will ever score.
Saracens were in the ascendant, with their bruising bunch of ball carriers wreaking havoc amongst the Connacht rearguard. The Irishmen were becoming increasingly frustrated, with their ire boiling over with Nathan White’s at best extremely careless, and at worst vicious repeated stamping on Brad Barritt’s head earning the Connacht tighthead a yellow card.
With numerical advantage Saracens pressed for another score right before halftime and they crossed for their third of the afternoon, as Schalk Brits emerged as the try scorer from a pile of bodies after Saracens executed a trademark catch and drive.
After a post try exchange calmed down, Hodgson again missed the resulting conversion, hitting the posts with his kick.
If Connacht were glad for the break their ten minute hiatus did not stem the tide as Saracens ran riot in a stunning second half that yielded seven tries.
First up to score and clinch the try scoring bonus point was David Strettle, who finished off a sweeping move to score his second of the dayin the 42nd minute; Alex Goode, (who was superb throughout) – collected Gavin Duffy clearance and showing fantastic footwork and pace he jinked his way through some would be defenders to find Duncan Taylor in support. The Scotsman collected and drew the retreating Connacht defence to feed Strettle who showed great pace to run in his second from 25 metres out.
Next to score for Saracens was Goode himself, and this was the pick of the bunch. Again collecting a loose kick Goode waltzed past what looked to be at least half the Connacht team to score a scintillating try, running across field then arching his run to expert effect to accelerate past the Connacht defence.
The floodgates were now well and truly open and the home side was in ruthless mood; George Kruis powered over to score next, then replacement Chris Wyles got in on the act collecting Jamie George’s offload after the replacement hooker broke through to feed the US Eagle international.
Fellow substitutes Jackson Wray and James Johnston were the next try scorers, before Strettle completed his hat-trick with an expert finish.
In the closing moments, Chris Ashton raced away to score his sides tenth of the afternoon (his second), to send the 9,614 fans home thoroughly entertained.
Tries; Ashton 2 ( 11 and 80 mins ); Strettle 3 ( 28-42-77 mins); Brits (40 mins); Goode (50 mins); Kruis (58 min); Wyles (66 min); Wray (69 min); Johnston (73 min).
Cons Hodgson 1
15. Alex Goode; 14. Chris Ashton, 13. Duncan Taylor(rep Wyles 53 mins); 12. Brad Barritt, 11. David Strettle; 10. Charlie Hodgson (Farrell 60-67);9. Richard Wigglesworth (De Kock 50 );Mako Vunipola( Barrington 56); 2 Schalk Brits ( George ); 3. Matt Stevens ( Johnston 50 );4. Steve Borthwick (c), 5. George Kruis ( Hargreaves 59 ), 6. Billy Vunipola, 7. Kelly Brown ( Wray 64); 8. Ernst Joubert
16. Jamie George, 17. Richard Barrington, 18. James Johnston, 19. Alistair Hargreaves, 20. Jackson Wray, 21. Neil de Kock, 22. Owen Farrell, 23. Chris Wyles
15. Gavin Duffy; 14. Fionn Carr, 13. Robbie Henshaw, 12. Eoin Griffin, 11. Matt Healy; 10. Dan Parks, 9. Kieran Marmion; 1. Brett Wilkinson, 2. Sean Henry, 3. Nathan White, 4. Michael Swift, 5. Craig Clarke (c), 6. Andrew Browne, 7. Jake Heenan, 8. John Muldoon
16. Jason Harris Wright, 17. Denis Buckley, 18. Rodney Ah You, 19. Mick Kearney, 20. George Naoupu, 21. Paul O’Donohoe, 22. Darragh Leader, 23. Tiernan O’Halloran