Dec 19, 2015
Perfect Ten for rampant Saracens
Saracens ran in eight tries in an exhilarating display of attacking rugby, to record their tenth win of win of the season after beating Oyonnax 55-13 at Allianz Park in round four of the Champions Cup.
Man of the Match Chris Ashton crossed for a hat-trick of tries, with Samu Vunisa crossing for a brace of scores in a strong showing from the summer signing. Further scores from Alex Goode Mike Ellery and Jamie George sealed Oyonnax’s fate.
Saracens opponents Oyonnax were playing their first ever European Champions Cup game on foreign soil and their first visit to England would prove to be an unpleasant one.
The unbeaten north Londoners were in merciless mood as they repeatedly ran their French visitors ragged in a highly entertaining performance.
From the get-go Saracens looked to stamp their authority on proceedings, looking to play an expansive brand of rugby that has illuminated both the Premiership and the Champions Cup so far this season.
After an initial period of pressure, Oyonnax were camped out in their 22 for the majority of the first half.
Saracens were buoyed by their recent try scoring prowess, in which they have scored 16 tries in their last three games. With this fresh in their minds, and conducted impressively by a revitalised Owen Farrell at outside half, Sarries were here to ‘play’.
And play they did. With the grunt and shove of new signing Samu Vunisa and the bulldozing like carries of Mako Vunipola, Saracens were able to let their backline light up the contest.
Mike Ellery, Duncan Taylor and Chris Ashton were all in red hot form. Ashton crossed for two first half scores and his fellow wingman Ellery made a series of barnstorming runs. The ex-England 7s man is breathing down the Champions Cup leading scorer Chris Wyles’ neck for a starting berth.
Farrell was marvellous in the opening 40. The young England fly-half is known for his steel and metronomic boot, here he showcased a side of his armoury of top class skills that will dispel a few myths that surround the immensely talented Sarries fly-half. There were breaks, blind offloads, grubber kicks and cut out passes, all played to a remarkable tempo, that had the 9,000 plus Sarries faithful drooling.
Much like his fellow Wiganer, Chris Ashton was in red-hot form. Ashton will tell you personally that he deals in tries. The five pointer is his currency and in the first half he crossed for two.
The first was a well worked move, with paitience being the operative word. Phase after phase seemed to see Sarries go from one ruck to the next with not much in terms of quick ball. Marshalled well by Mr Perpetual Motion, Neil de Kock, Sarries backed themselves to manfacture an opening. They did. Ashton, like the poacher-in-chief his is, duly obliged by sneaking in the corner when the chance presented. Farrell slotted the conversion with typical class.
In their groove, Sarries wanted to move through the gears. One of the tries of the season was nearly witnessed when a midfield move that saw skipper Brad Barritt (rock in defence and rock star in attack) combine brilliantly with Duncan Taylor, who in turn released the Cumbrian express Mike Ellery. Ellery raced away, offloaded to Goode, who found Ashton. Ashton just couldn’t offload to return the favour. It would have been a score that would have lived long in the memory.
Oyonnax landed a penalty with outside half Regis Lespinas sending over the three points.
That wouldn’t deter the rampant Sarries. Ashton was in for his second, collecting a Farrell grubber kick to cross in the corner. It could have been Edwards to Offiah in their pomp, both players were enjoying their game. Lespinas added another penalty in return for Oyonnax before Samu Vunisa capped off a fine half with his first try at Allianz Park, before half-time as Sarries led 20-3 at the break.
The fourth score and the bonus point would come right after the break. After his World Cup with Itay, Samu Vunisa has settled into life in north London with some ease. He dotted his second try of the game, his third in as many outings for his new club.
McCall’s side cut loose. Perhaps the try of the day was next, when Alex Goode, who is playing some his finest rugby in a Saracens shirt, weaved his way through the Oyonnax kick chase before hitting the after burners to score a superb solo effort.
After a deserved try for wing Ellery, replacement hooker Jamie George underlined his international credentials with fine solo of effort of his own, reigniting memories of his Premiership final score and showcasing his pace and eye for the line to score from 30 metres after collecting a sublime Charlie Hodgson pass.
Oyonnax crossed for a consolation score through Fetu’ Vainikolo before Chris Ashton crossed for his third and hat-trick clinching try.
Final score: Saracens 55 Oyonnax 13
Tries Ashton(13,31,76);Vunisa(40,44);Goode(49); Ellery(52);George(61).
Cons Farrell x 4; Hodgson x 2
Tries Vainkolo (68).
Saracens: 15 Alex Goode; 13 Chris Ashton, 13 Duncan Taylor, 12 Brad Barritt (c), 11 Michael Ellery; 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Neil de Kock; 1 Mako Vunipola, 2 Schalk Brits, 3 Petrus du Plessis, 4 Jim Hamilton, 5 Maro Itoje, 6 Jackson Wray, 7 Kelly Brown, 8 Samu Vunisa.
Replacements: 16 Jamie George, 17 Richard Barrington, 18 Juan Figallo, 19 Michael Rhodes, 20 Will Fraser, 21 Richard Wigglesworth, 22 Charlie Hodgson, 23 Ben Ransom.
Replacements used: George for Brits (22); Barrington for M.Vunipola (50); Figallo for Du Plessis (50); Rhodes for Itoje(57); Fraser for Hamilton(62); Wigglesworth for De Kock (50); Hodgson for Farrell (56); Ransom for Goode(50);
Oyonnax: 15 Florian Denos (c); 14 Daniel Ikpefan, 13 Guillaume Bousses, 12 Uwa Tawalo, 11 Fetu'u Vainikolo; 10 Regis Lespinas, 9 Julien Blanc; 1 Laurent Delboulbès, 2 Jeremie Maurouard, 3 Marc Clerc, 4 Leon Power, 5 Geoffrey Fabbri, 6 Valentin Ursache, 7 Pedrie Wannenburg, 8 Florian Faure.
Replacements: 16 Jody Jenneker, 17 Stan Wright, 18 Horace Pungea, 19 Viliami Maafu, 20 Thomas Bordes, 21 Arthur Aziza, 22 Rory Clegg, 23 Vincent Martin.
Replacements used Jenneker for Maurouard (59); Wright for Delboulbes (19); Pungea for Clerc (48); Maafu for Faure(50); Bordes for Ursache (66); Aziza for Blanc (62); Clegg for Lespinas (52); Martin for Tawalo (52).