Dec 01, 2015
Saracens hit Warriors for Six at Twickenham
This was a day for the record books. Retiring legends, club debuts, points records broken and a feast of tries all on show as Saracens ran in six tries to beat Worcester Warriors 48 – 18 at Twickenham.
The build-up to the game was dominated by Ernst Joubert’s final curtain call. The 35-year old loose forward would bow out of the game after a superb career in which he has represented Saracens in a six-year spell with some distinction and Sarries put on a display befitting the man.
Two tries from Chris Ashton, one from Ben Spencer, plus efforts from Jackson Wray, Schalk Brits and Ben Ransom rounded off an emphatic victory at HQ for Mark McCall’s unbeaten side.
Since it’s inception in 2004 the London Double Header has provided Saracens with the perfect stage to blood a few younger guys in a big-match atmosphere at Twickenham Stadium. With that in mind, Mark McCall included the likes of Ben Ransom and Ben Spencer in his starting line-up, and young guns such as Jared Saunders, Titi Lamositele and Nick Tompkins named as replacements.
Saracens were forced into a late change before the game with Will Fraser withdrawing with a slight-knock. He was replaced by Jackson Wray, with Kelly Brown switching to openside flanker.
Having only conceded an average of 9.5 points per match so far in their unbeaten season, Saracens have been in a typically miserly mood as they kept their opponents to just two penalty goals for seventy minutes before replacement Joe Rees and GJ Van Velze crashed over for the Warriors late on.
After some initial Warriors pressure Saracens were the first to score and it was half-back Ben Spencer who would light up the contest after four minutes to send Chris Ashton over for the first try of the game. Spencer dummied and parted the Worcester defence with Moses-esq ease to burst through from the halfway line. With the covering Chris Pennell coming into view., Spencer had the vision and more impressively, the skill to chip to Chris Ashton at full flight. Ashton gathered the ball after a kind bounce to score. Hodgson converted.
The Warriors missed a chance to reply, when Tom Heathcote dragged a ninth minute penalty attempt wide and looked dangerous in the opening exchanges only for Saracens to hold steady and keep Dean Ryan’s side scoreless for the majority of the first half.
Hodgson missed a penalty attempt of his own but Sarries needn’t have worried as their second score was just around the corner.
With the Warriors attacking on the halfway line, the Men in Black (with a lot of red theses days) won the ball. Replacement lock (an early enforced change for skipper Alistair Hargreaves) scurried away and showing some sublime timing, fed wing Chris Wyles down the shortside. Wyles outpaced the cover, drew in full-back Pennell and offloaded to the supporting Spencer who dived over to score. Hodgson converted superbly to give his side a 14-0 lead.
Sarries went mighty close to a third try, but Jackson Wray was inches short, although this scribe is not so sure the blond haired back rower was that enamoured with TMO Rowan Kitt’s decision.
Saracens extend their lead with a Hodgson penalty to make the score 17-0 after the 30 minute mark.
Warriors No10 Tom Heathcote broke the Warriors Twickenham points duck with a penalty of his own after 32 minutes, and soon added another to make the scores 17-6.
Saracens though would have the last say in the half, when Charlie Hodgson sent over a 40th minute penalty to make the scores Saracens 20 Worcester 6 at the break.
There would be no respite for the Warriors after the break as Saracens crossed for their third score of the day. Jackson Wray the try scorer on the back of a powerful driving maul – Hodgson converted.
Much like the first half, the early try shocked the Warriors into life, and they enjoyed a five minute purple patch on the Sarries line but yet again the Sarries defence repelled the Worcester attack.
Then Sarries crossed for their fourth try. The try scorer was Chris Ashton (his predatory support play once again impressing) but the try really belonged to Schalk Brits. The fleet-footed hooker danced his way around the Warriors defence, so impressively, that the Springbok hooker wouldn’t look out of place in a sequin suit on a Saturday night on BBC One. After Brits danced through the Warriors players he fed Charlie Hodgson, who then passed to Ashton who did the rest.
Lining up the conversion was Charlie Hodgson, who at this point of the game was on 2,498 Premiership career points. Hodgson sent the ball through the posts to a standing ovation as he clocked up the impressive personal milestone.
Brits though would get his moment, this was more graft than his earlier craft, as he alongside seven other Sarries forwards shunted his way over the line. Next on the scoresheet was Ben Ransom, colelcting a sumptuous Charlie Hodgson pass, the quicksilver full-back dummied and danced his way over to scorer.
Replacement prop Joe Rees and No8 GJ Van Velze crossed for a consolation tries for the Warriors, but this day rightly belonged to the Premiership champions from north London.
Final Score: Saracens 48 Worcester Warriors 18
Saracens: 15 Ben Ransom; 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Marcelo Bosch, 12 Brad Barritt, 11 Chris Wyles; 10 Charlie Hodgson, 9 Ben Spencer; 1 Rhys Gill, 2 Schalk Brits, 3 Juan Figallo; 4 George Kruis, 5 Alistair Hargreaves ©, 6 Jackson Wray, 7 Kelly Brown, 8 Ernst Joubert.
Replacements: 16 Jared Saunders, 17 Richard Barrington, 18 Titi Lamositele, 19 Maro Itoje, 20 Samulea Vunisa, 21 Neil De Kock, 22 Owen Farrell, 23 Nick Tompkins.
Worcester Warriors: 15 Chris Pennell; 14 Bryce Heem, 13 Wynand Olivier, 12 Ryan Mills, 11 Cooper Vuna; 10 Tom Heathcote, 9 Jonny Arr; 1 Na’ama Leleimalefaga, 2 Niall Annett, 3 Nick Schonert; 4 Donncha O’Callaghan, 5 Darren Barry; 6 Phil Dowson, 7 Sam Betty, 8 GJ van Velze (C)
Replacements: 16 Jaba Bregvadze, 17 Val Rapava Ruskin, 18 Joe Rees, 19 Tevita Cavubati, 20 Matt Cox, 21 Charlie Mulchrone, 22 Ryan Lamb, 23 Ben Howard.