May 07, 2016
Ashton bags a hat-trick as Worcester hit for six
Saracens rounded off the regular Aviva Premiership season in season in style with a thumping 43-19 win away to Worcester Warriors.
Wing Chris Ashton continued his red-hot streak of form since returning from suspension bagging a hat-trick of tries, as Mark McCall’s side ran-in six scores to give them the perfect send-off before their Champions Cup final in Lyon next Saturday.
Ashton’s three tries were trademark finishes, with the England wing popping up in trademark fashion to cross the whitewash as he picked up the Man of the Match award for the visitors. Other scorers on the day come from scrum half Neil De Kock, (who unfortunately limped off after twenty minutes with a hamstring strain), No8 Samu Vunisa and replacement full-back Ben Ransom. Veteran fly-half Charlie Hodgson added 13 points with the boot.
Heading into the game, Mark McCall named a strong starting XV, to the surprise to many who thought the Saracens director of rugby would field a second string side to face the Warriors. One player who returned to action was Alex Goode, and the elegant full-back (who was celebrating his 28th birthday) produced another vintage performance of counter attacking rugby for the Sarries travelling faithful to enjoy.
It was the Warriors though who flew out of the traps quickest, when Worcester centre Andy Symons powered over to score from 5 metres out after just three minutes of play. No stranger to conceding an early score this season Sarries remained calm and hit-back almost immediately when Neil De Kock was on hand to finish a fine team move that was ignited by an Alex Goode counter attack. Collecting a bullet Charlie Hodgson cut-out pass in his own half, Goode showed the type of evasive running that has many tipping the Sarries full-back to be wearing the England No15 jersey Down Under later this summer. After Goode left numerous Warriors defending grasping for thin air, he combined with the evergreen De Kock who showed all his nous and experience to be on hand to score. Hodgson converted expertly from the sideline’s to level the scores.
After Hodgson missed a penalty opportunity, the Warriors hit back with their wing Cooper Vuna showing tremendous dexterity to ground the ball in the left hand corner after centre Symons had rounded the Sarries drift defence. Heathcote converted brilliantly as the Warriors led 14-7 after the first quarter of play.
The Warriors couldn’t build on their strong start as McCall’s side moved through the gears to blow their hosts off the park. They responded with Ashton’s first try of the game, as the free scoring wing tracked the brilliant Goode to score in the left hand corner. Hodgson couldn’t convert, but minutes later the former England man, who was skippering Sarries on the day, landed a 34th minute penalty to edge Sarries in front after the Warriors defence was penalised for not rolling away.
Samu Vunisa added a try before half-time, before Ashton doubled his tally for the day collecting an Alex Goode grubber kick as Sarries continued to inflict damage on the weary Warriors before the break and securing the try-scoring bonus point in the process.
With a 15-point cushion, Mark McCall was able to use his bench earlier than perhaps was planned. Off went front rowers Richard Barrington and Titi Lamositele, as did England pair George Kruis and Alex Goode, as they all took a seat on the bench after 40 minutes hard work.
It took twelve minutes of second half play until Sarries added another score, and it was try poacher in-chief Chris Ashton who crossed to secure a well-earned hat-trick of tries. Sub Ben Ransom also crossed for as deserved five-pointer before Vuna added a late consolation for the spirited hosts minutes from time.
Saracens now face Leicester Tigers in the Aviva Premiership semi-final at Allianz Park, before then? A date with destiny in Lyon. Bon Chance.
Final Score: Worcester Warriors 19 Saracens 43
15 Alex Goode; 14 Chris Ashton; 13 Marcelo Bosch; 12 Nick Tompkins; 11 Chris Wyles; 10 Charlie Hodgson (c); 9 Neil De Kock; 1 Richard Barrington;2 Jamie George; 3 Petrus Du Plessis; 4 George Kruis; 5 Jim Hamilton; 6 Jackson Wray; 7 Kelly Brown; 8 Samu Vunisa.
Replacements: 16 Jared Saunders; 17 Titi Lamositele; 18 Juan Figallo; 19 Hayden Smith; 20 Will Fraser; 21 Ben Spencer; 22 Tim Streather; 23 Ben Ransom:
Replacements used Saunders for George (64); Lamositele for Barrington (41); Figallo for Du Plessis (41); Smith for Kruis(41); Fraser for Wray(49); Spencer for De Kock (20); Streather for Bosch (62); Ransom for Goode.
Tries: Ashton x 3; De Kock; Vunisa; Ransom:
Cons: Hodgson x 5
15 Chris Pennell; 14 Bryce Heem; 13 Andy Symons; 12 Ryan Mills; 11 Cooper Vuna; 10 Tom Heathcote; 9 Luke Baldwin; 1 Na'ama Leleimalefaga; 2 Niall Annett; 3 Nick Schonert; 4 Donncha O'Callaghan; 5 Dan Sanderson; 6 Sam Betty; 7 Carl Kirwan; 8 Phil Dowson (C).
Replacements: 16 Jaba Bregvadze; 17 Ryan Bower; 18 James Johnston; 19 Charlie Hewitt; 20 Matt Cox; 21 Charlie Mulchrone; 22 Ryan Lamb; 23 Alex Grove.
Replacements used: Bregvadze for Annett (46); Bower for Leleimalefaga (57); Johnston for Schonert (57); Hewitt for Sanderson(66); Cox for Betty(46); Mulchrone for Baldwin(52); Lamb for Heathcote(52); Grove for Symons(52).
Tries: Symons; Vuna x 2:
Cons: Heathcote x 2: