Saracens - Saracens book Anglo-Welsh Cup home semi-final

Feb 05, 2017

Saracens book Anglo-Welsh Cup home semi-final


Saracens booked a home Anglo-Welsh Cup semi-final spot with a bonus-point 29-20 win over an experienced Leicester Tigers at Allianz Park.

A late try from Tom Whiteley sent the 8,734 crowd in attendance at Allianz Park in raptures as a depleted and youthful Sarries side produced a fine performance to defeat the Tigers. Whiteley’s 79th minute effort rounded off a fine afternoon for the north Londoners after Ian Vass’ young side ran-in three tries to race in a 19-3 lead.  The Tigers hit back with tries from No8 Luke Hamilton and a barnstorming effort from hooker George McGuigan either side of half-time, but Whiteley’s late show secured the home semi-final for the Cup holders.

The first try of the game went Saracens’ way. Richard Barrington blasted his way over to score, after another bruising carry from the loosehead prop punctured the Tigers defence. Barrington was a constant menace for Tigers throughout his 52 minutes on the field with a series of strong carries, and his ball-carrying prowess sent him over for the game’s first try.

If Sarries first score was born out of pure physicality, then their second was more of a creative approach. A wonderful backs move released Nathan Earle to score from a scrum, after intelligent interplay from Tom Whiteley, Nick Tompkins in the midfield released Matt Gallagher, who rolled in a deft grubber for Nathan Earle to race onto. It was a fine team score.

Leicester looked for a way back into the game, and with a powerful set-piece they certainly had an avenue to do so. After prop forward Pat Cillers forced Saracens to concede a penalty Freddie Burns stepped up to kick Leicester’s first points of the game.

Saracens youngsters were beginning to show a real effervescence in attack and defence, as Ian Vass’ young charges’ enthusiasm continued to knock the Tigers off their stride. Leicester tried to match Saracens tempo, but it would backfire for the East Midlanders. Never one to take a backward step Freddie Burns quick-tapped under the shadow of his own posts, but ran into some swarming Sarries defenders and into Man of the Match Nick Tompkins who was once again superb at the heart of the Saracens midfield. As Burns was dragged to the ground, Tompkins swooped into to wrestle the ball from Tigers’ impish fly-half and raced away to score unopposed.

Leicester would have fancied their chances with strong matchday 23, and their class was beginning to tell as they responded with try either side of the break. A close-range try from No8 Luke Hamilton cut Saracens lead to nine, before hooker George McGuigan raced away to score his side’s second of the afternoon.

The Tigers had their tails up, and but Saracens stood firm. A wonderful try-saving tackle from the superb Samu Vunisa on Tigers’ centre Charlie Thacker was a particular highlight, whilst full-back Matt Gallagher dragged his side out of their own 22 with some brave and committed kick returns.

Whiteley and Burns traded penalties to make the score 22-20 as the game entered the closing stages. Leicester’s ill-discipline would ultimately haunt them, and when former England and British Lions man Tom Croft saw yellow for some cynical play at the breakdown the Tigers challenge ended. Saracens though still had some unfinished business as they chased the all-important score. Vunisa went close, as did Dom Morris who equipped himself very well after replacing Sarries skipper Tim Streather earlier in the game.

With the crowd willing them on Sarries kicked to touch with a minute left to play after the Tigers were penalised for dragging a rolling maul down. After recycling the ball, Whiteley collected a bullet Neil De Kock pass and danced around some desperate Tigers defenders before pressing the accelerator to race away to score before being mobbed by the entire Saracens matchday squad.

Saracens will host Leicester Tigers at Allianz Park in the Anglo-Welsh Cup semi-final. Ties to played on weekend of the 11th/12th March.

Saracens: 15 Matt Gallagher; 14 Mike Ellery; 13 Tim Streather (c) (Morris 26); 12 Nick Tompkins; 11 Nathan Earle; 10 Tom Whiteley; 9 Henry Taylor (De Kock 55); 1 Richard Barrington (Lamositele 52); 2 Jared Saunders (Wray 71’); 3 Petrus Du Plessis (Walker {19-32} & {66}); 4 Mark Flanagan; 5 Brian Tuilagi (Thompson-Stringer 66); 6 Kelly Brown; 7 Will Fraser (Spurling 55); 8 Samu Vunisa

Replacements 16 Scott Spurling; 17 Titi Lamositele; 18 Billy Walker; 19 Hayden Thompson-Stringer; 20 Jackson Wray; 21 Neil De Kock; 22 Dominic Morris; 23 Rotimi Segun:

Tries: Barrington (12); Earle (16); Tompkins (24); Whiteley (54):

Cons: Whiteley x 3/4:

Penalties: Whiteley X 1/2:

Leicester Tigers: 15 George Worth; 14 Peter Betham; 13 Charlie Thacker; 12 Oli Bryant; 11 George Catchpole (Brady 30); 10 Freddie Burns; 9 Sam Harrison (White 78); 1 Michele Rizzo (Brugnara 55); 2 George McGuigan;                        3 Pat Cilliers (Betts 66); 4 Harry Wells; 5 Dom Barrow (c) (Maksymiw 59); 6 Tom Croft; 7 Harry Thacker (Williams 52) ;8 Luke Hamilton (H.Thacker 52).

Replacements 16 Brendon O'Connor; 17 Riccardo Brugnara; 18 Ben Betts; 19 Joe Maksymiw; 20 Mike Williams; 21 Ben White; 22 Maxime Mermoz; 23 Tom Brady:

Tries: Hamilton (34); McGuigan (50)

Cons: Burns x 2

Penalties: Burns x 2/3

Yellow card: Croft (76):

Man of the Match: Nick Tompkins

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