Match Report: Saracens Men 54 – 13 Bedford Blues
Maro Itoje and Billy Vunipola both scored twice as a re-energised and reinforced Saracens Men got back to Championship action with a dominant bonus-point victory against Bedford Blues.
Back in business after another break weekend, the Men in Black set the tone for what will hopefully be a successful part of the season with eight tries at StoneX Stadium.
First-half doubles from Itoje and Vunipola, two of the five internationals that returned to the starting XV, were added to by scores from Aled Davies, Janco Venter, Andy Christie and a penalty try.
Sarries were ahead on six minutes when, off the back of a solid scrum in the Bedford 22, Elliot Daly got within a metre of the try-line before Itoje’s quick pick-and-go saw him burrow over.
Billy Vunipola had his first score on 15 minutes, the backs shifting the ball left for Sean Maitland to find an edge and gain 30 metres before moving it back for the No.8 to finish in the opposite corner.
A frankly ridiculous curled conversion from Manu Vunipola added the extras for a 14-0 lead and then a frankly genius charge down from Itoje saw the lock score his second with only 23 minutes gone.
The crucial bonus-point score came in some style five minutes before half-time via Billy Vunipola but in reality it was a try the entire pack were patting themselves on the back for.
Bedford had done well to stifle the Saracens maul initially and win a 5m scrum but then the Saracens pack got an incredible shove on their opponents with Vunipola grateful to just dot the ball down.
After the break Elliott Obatoyinbo opened things up for the next score as the full-back danced his way through a tackle to feed Maitland, who in turn fed Itoje and the lock offloaded for Davies to score.
Manu Vunipola once again had his eye in from the tee out wide on the touchline and extended the score to 33-6.
Bedford hit back on 55 minutes as they pierced through the Sarries defence from their own half through Ollie Newman, the flanker offloaded to Pat Tapley to score and Will Maisey converted for 33-13.
Saracens responded with a host of changes and it didn’t take long for one of those new faces to make a positive impact as Venter dotted down at the back of a strong driving maul for 40-13.
The Namibian was heavily involved in the next score too as he brushed aside a Bedford defender, got to within 10 metres of the line, offloaded to Tom Whiteley and then Christie scored from the next phase.
Itoje should have had his hat-trick five minutes from time but was held up over the line, with referee Andrew Jackson subsequently awarding a penalty try to the hosts from the next scrum for 54-13.
Next up Saracens travel to Doncaster Knights looking to end the Castle Park outfit’s unblemished start to the Championship and on this viewing you’d back Mark McCall’s men to do just that.