Match Report: Saracens Men 48-33 Coventry
Saracens’ penultimate pre-season friendly ended in a 48-33 victory over Coventry.
Joel Kpoku and Ryan Burrows swapped tries before Sean Maitland crossed ahead of an away double from Nic Dolly and Ben Nutley.
Dom Morris and Duncan Taylor had Sarries ahead at the interval, but they were pegged back in the second half by Nile Dacres and Pete White.
Richard Barrington scored twice and Kapeli Pifeleti and Andy Christie both crossed to end an entertaining affair in Saracens’ favour.
If there was such a thing as perfect start then Saracens made just that. From Manu Vunipola’s kick-off, the ball bounced kindly for the onrushing Kpoku who gathered in between the Coventry 10 and 22, and rounded the covering defence to cross for one of the quickest tries the StoneX Stadium has ever seen.
Coventry responded as if they hadn’t received a setback and edged ahead on 10 minutes. Flanker Sam Lewis made a huge break on the right wing and following a couple of penalties, captain Burrows snuck over from the back of a maul which fly-half Kieran Wilkinson expertly nudged.
Sarries were happy to let Coventry have possession and their mean Wolfpack defence drove the visitors back 30 metres before they had no option but to kick clear. Aled Davies boxed it back and Maitland’s chase saw him smash full-back Louis Brown deep in away territory.
That’s where Mark McCall’s men remained for a prolonged period thereafter. A cute line-out move saw Tom Woolstencroft and Christie combine for a one-two down the flank and then, after some pressure, they managed to dot down in the corner.
A carbon copy of last weekend’s effort from Rotimi Segun, Vunipola’s delayed double-pump pass to the left allowed Scotland international Maitland the space for an easy trot to the line.
Again, Coventry were fast to react to going behind. Another rampant maul resulted in hooker Dolly flopping over the whitewash for a two-point advantage once more.
Just past the half-hour, that gap was extended by Nutley. Undone by the wind, Davies’ kick flew back and presented the ball back to Coventry and after several pick and goes, the flanker made his way under the sticks on a 45-degree dart from the ruck.
As was the topsy turvy nature of the first period, Christie crashed over in reply only to have the try chalked off for a forward pass in the build-up as Saracens searched for their third of the afternoon before the break.
Like London buses waiting for one, two tries came in quick succession. First, Morris hit a hard line on to Vunipola’s soft pop and the centre burst past a host of pink shirts for an impressive finish.
And then from the restart, Maitland created space on the outside and executed a simple two-on-one for Taylor to cross to send Sarries in 24-19 ahead at half-time.
Things were levelled less than 30 seconds after the second half restart, much like Saracens’ first. This time it was Coventry who got themselves five points with lock Dacres going over on the stretch, leaving an easy conversion for Wilkinson to put his side up by two again.
Coventry added a fifth through White who slipped through following Wilkinson’s break, though Saracens prop Barrington, fresh from signing a new deal, made his way over with assistance from replacement Sean Reffell.
Two points behind, the Men in Black ramped up the tempo and loosehead Barrington managed to creep in for his brace as the home side regained the lead.
White was then sin binned for a deliberate knock on and Saracens made the most of having an extra man on the field as Pifeleti grabbed his fourth try in four matches and the hooker turned provider moments later with a beautiful pass to Christie who deservedly finished off with aplomb to round off the scoring.