Oct 09, 2016
Four Try Saracens Overcome Wasps
Saracens overcame Wasps to move into the top spot of the Aviva Premiership table in front of a packed Allianz Park crowd this afternoon.
Although Saracens got on the board early in the game through a Mako Vunipola try it was a tight first 40 minutes in North London. It looked as if the sides would go in at the break with the scoreline tied a 8-8 but in the dying seconds of the half Richard Wigglesworth set up Mike Ellery on the right wing and he dived over for a score to give the home side a 13-8 lead.
The start of the second half saw the visitors attacking ability come into play, forcing some strong defence from the home side as they looked to snuff out the visitors challenge.
As errors crept into the game both sides trading penalty kicks but with just over ten minutes remaining Saracens drove towards the line and it was Jamie George who crossed over. The last ten minutes were all about the home side as Saracens cranked up the pressure and five minutes later George was in again, securing the try scoring bonus point in the process. Second half substitute Ben Spencer converted to make the final score 30 – 14 to Saracens.
Billed as a game between two the leagues heavyweights there was plenty of action to confirm the pre-match hype. Billy Vunipola’s dominant display from number eight, and Maro Itoje’s rumbustious performance in the loose underlined the two Saracens forwards reputation as the the leagues’ stand-out performers. Attention though should also be centred on the likes on the industrious George Kruis, the granite like display in midfield from skipper Brad Barritt and another strong outing from Sarries’ scheming general Richard Wigglesworth, who’s metronomic kicking performance from scrumhalf continued to pin back Wasps throughout the contest.
Saracens drew first blood when Mako Vunipola barrelled his way over on four minutes for the game’s first try. After the effervescent Schalk Brits punctured the Wasps defence down the left edge Sarries were awarded a penalty which they elected to go for touch. Sarries set up the maul and drove over to score. Lozowski couldn’t add the extras from the Eastern touchline.
Wasps skipper Jimmy Gopperth cut Sarries lead to two points with a penalty, only for Alex Lozowski to reply minutes later with a three-pointer of his own to restore the hosts five point cushion.
The rest of the half saw either side arm wrestle for superiority before Wasps playmaker Danny Cipriani sparked the contest into life with a show and go to break Sarries steadfast defence. The former England fly-half showed impressive acceleration to break through the gap to send over wing Josh Bassett to score. Gopperth failed to add the extras out wide.
Wasps really should have gone into the break level, but Saracens stole a march on their Coventry rivals right on half-time, when some expert vision from Richard Wigglesworth sent over Mike Ellery for the wing’s first try of the season.
Camped out on the Wasps line and with the Sarries artillery hammering the try-line, Wigglesworth spun out a cut out pass across two Wasps defenders to find Ellery unmarked on the right wing. Ellery waltzed over with ease to ground the ball, thanking Saracens half-back for his superb assist in the celebrations. Lozowski failed to add the extras, as the sides went into the break with Saracens leading 13-8.
Saracens cranked up the pressure in the second half, but they could have fallen behind if not for the jet-heeled Alex Lozowski who plucked a bouncing ball from the grasp of his opposite number Danny Cipriani after he chipped over full-back Sean Maitland and looked certain to score.
Wasps though would begin to eat into Saracens lead, with the home-side conceding a number of penalties. Gopperth sent over a 47th minute penalty as the visitors looked the most likely to score during a ten minute purple match after the break.
Lozowski and Gopperth exchanged penalties, as Wasps continued test the hosts.
Sarries though didn’t panic. They continued to play to their strengths with Wigglesworth’s box-kicking and Brad Barritt’s direct approach with ball in hand wearing down the Wasps side. Wasps looked to use their inspirational ball-carrier Nathan Hughes to wrestle back some supremacy, but the Fijian born England squad member was unceremoniously levelled by the superb Billy Vunipola, who treated his opposite number like the proverbial ‘rag-doll’ with a huge hit.
Inspired by his back-rowers exploits, the steely Alex Lozowski then knocked back the Wasps behemoth with a committed hit of his own. Sarries were energised by such defensive plays, as they often are, and they moved through the gears to race away from Dai Young’s team.
Substitute hooker Jamie George has dovetailed with Schalk Brits throughout his career, and after Brits showed flashes of his impish best in a 50 minute spell, George powered over for two tries to seal the win for Saracens.
The Sarries hooker is in prolific form, that’s now five tries in six outings for the the front-rower and his first of this game was on the back of some powerful play from the likes of Schalk Burger and replacement Jackson Wray deep in the Wasps 22. It was inevitable with Saracens patience and control that they would cross for the game changing try and George delivered on 69 minutes. Lozowski, not at his best off the tee during this game dusted himself down to land the all-important conversion. Sarries led 23-14 with ten minutes to play.
On 73 minutes Wasps wing Bassett was yellow carded for a high-tackle and with that, Sarries had the chance for a try-scoring bonus point. The Sarries maul has been a constant strength all-season and once again it yielded another score with George the beneficiary. Replacement scrumhalf Spencer added the extras to secure a fine win for the north Londoners.
Saracens: 15 Sean Maitland; 14 Mike Ellery; 13 Marcelo Bosch; 12 Brad Barritt (c);11 Chris Wyles; 10 Alex Lozowski; 9 Richard Wigglesworth; 1 Mako Vunipola;2 Schalk Brits; 3 Juan Figallo; 4 Maro Itoje; 5 George Kruis; 6 Michael Rhodes; 7 Schalk Burger; 8 Billy Vunipola:
Replacements: 16 Jamie George; 17 Titi Lamositele; 18 Petrus Du Plessis; 19 Jim Hamilton; 20 Jackson Wray; 21 Ben Spencer; 22 Nick Tompkins; 23 Matt Gallagher.
Scores Tries M.Vunipola (4); Ellery (40+1); George (69 & 74).
Cons Lozowski 1/3; Spencer 1:
Penalties Lozowski 2/3:
Replacements used George for Brits (51); Lamositele for M.Vunipola (76); Du Plessis for Figallo (58);
Hamilton for Itoje (76); Wray for Rhodes (52); Spencer for Wigglesworth (71); Tomkins for Barritt (76); Gallagher for Ellery (68):
Wasps: 15. Rob Miller; 14. Christian Wade; 13. Elliot Daly; 12. Jimmy Gopperth ©; 11. Josh Bassett; 10 Danny Cipriani; 9. Dan Robson; 1. Simon McIntyre; 2. Tommy Taylor; 3. Marty Moore; 4. Matt Symons; 5. Kearnan Myall; 6. Ashley Johnson; 7. Thomas Young; 8. Nathan Hughes:
Replacements: 16. Gaskell; 17. Matt Mullan; 18. Jake Cooper-Woolley; 19. Joe Launchbury; 20. Alex Rieder; 21. Joe Simpson; 22. Kyle Eastmond; 23. Frank Halai:
Scores Try Bassett (37):
Penalties Gopperth x 3:
Replacements used Mullan for McIntyre (55); Cooper-Woolley for Moore (55); Launchbury for Myall(39);
Rieder for Johnson (61); Simpson for Robson (41); Eastmond for Miller (57); Halai for Wade (71); Gaskell for Symons (61):
Yellow card Bassett (74):
Scoring sequence 5-0; 5-3; 8-3; 8-8; 13-8; 13-11; 16-11; 16-14; 23-14; 30-14:
Man of the Match Billy Vunipola.
Referee Matthew Carley