Feb 08, 2015
Patient Sarries brush aside Exeter
Saracens booked a home LV=Cup semi-final against Northampton Saints after an impressive five try win over Exeter Chiefs at Allianz Park.
In the do-or-die fixture, Joe Shaw’s side entertained the 6,124 crowd present at Allianz Park with some fine running rugby as scrum half Ben Spencer orchestrated things expertly behind a strong pack performance in which loose forward Nick de Jager was particularly impressive.
Try scorers for Saracens were Tim Streather, Nick De Jager (x2), Romanian wing Catalin Fercu and Matt Hankin. Ben Spencer added ten points from the kicking tee.
Both sides came to north London to play. With exciting backs such as Ben Ransom, Mike Ellery and Catalin Fercu well placed to counter attack, in was no surprise that the flee-footed Sarries back three looked to attack and any given opportunity.
Ransom in particular looked dangerous. The quicksliver full-back made numerous line-breaks on kick returns to make the Chiefs kicking options of Lewis, Sweeney and left wing Tom James think about their exit plan.
Maybe the thought of another Ransom kick return delayed winger James' clearance kick in the build-up to Saracens first try of the afternoon. With the Chiefs looking to exit using the tried and tested 'wiper kick', James' trusted left boot looked to march his side up the pitch. Sensing the Chiefs' wings hesitation, Tim Streather charged down his clearance, regathered and finished with ease. Saracens scrum-half Ben Spencer then converted to give his side a 7-0 lead after fifteen minutes.
The Chiefs continued to kick, and continued to find Ransom rather than the solitude of the 3G surface. This would once again be their downfall as Nick De Jager would cross for his first try of the afternoon on the back of a well crafted Sarries counter attack from a Sweeney clearance.
The build-up to De Jager's score was exquisite. With backs and forwards combining and keeping the ball alive in a multiple phase move, the ball was worked out to right hand side to De Jager who powered over the score. Spencer once again made no mistake with the conversion.
Exeter went back to basics, and looked to their set-piece for some solitude. In fairness the Devonshire side did profit for tehir change of tact, and they reduced the home sides lead to seven points when No8 Sam Skinner burst his way over to score from the base of a powerful Exeter Scrum. Ceri Sweeney added the extras, before cooly slotting over a 39th minute penalty goal as the Chiefs cut Saracens lead to four points at the break.
Saracens were rocking and the Chiefs sensed this, and quickly after the break they would take keep chipping away at the home-side's lead when former Welsh international Sweeney added another penalty goal from a Saracens indiscretion.
Saracens needed a response, but things went from bad to worse when Chiefs Tom James raced into score his team's second try of the afternoon and the lead for the first time of the game. Sweeney couldn't add the extras as the Chiefs lead 14-18 after 50 minutes.
To their credit Sarries remained patient and seemed unruffled with the visitors turnaround. Their maturity would bare fruit when the regained the lead when Man of the Match Nick de Jager blasted his way through the Chiefs defence to score. Spencer converted.
The home side then introduced Alex Good to the field. Blessed with an innate understanding of the game, Goode's calmness seemed to rally the troops around him. Saracens would cross again minutes later, when Catalin Fercu raced into score from a bullet Ben Spencer pass on the blindside.
The game was then secured when Matt Hankin muscled his way over for his sides final try of the game. Sensing their fatigued opponents were flailing, Saracens skipper Maro Itoje continued to instruct his fly-half Goode to kick for the touch. Exeter continued to infringe, and on the fourth occasion Hankin burst through the middle of Saracens driving maul to score. Spencer converted.
Final Score: Saracens 35 Exeter Chiefs 18.
15. Ben Ransom (rep Palamo 72 mins) ;14. Mike Ellery, 13. Tim Streather, 12. Max Wilkins( Goode 51); 11. Catalin Fercu; 10. Nils Mordt, 9. Ben Spencer (Whiteley 72); 1. Rhys Gill (Barrington 41); 2. Jared Saunders (Sharman 41); 3. Biyi Alo (Featherstone 72); 4. Maro Itoje © (Sharples 72); 5. Hayden Smith (Thompson-Stringer 41); 6. Nick De Jager, 7. Matt Hankin, 8. Jackson Wray.
Replacements: 16. Brett Sharman, 17. Richard Barrington, 18. Ben Featherstone, 19. Kennett Sharples, 20. Hayden Thompson-Stringer, 21. Tom Whiteley, 22. Thretton Palamo, 23. Alex Goode
Tries: De Jäger x 2, Streather; Fercu; Hankin.
Cons: Spencer x 5
15 Byron McGuigan; 14 Fetu'u Vainikolo; 13 Max Bodilly; 12 Adam Hughes (Arnott 57);11 Tom James; 10 Ceri Sweeney (c); 9 Dave Lewis (Chudley 57); 1 Brett Sturgess (Rimmer 60); 2 Elvis Taione (Bateman 60); 3 Tomas Francis (Brown 41) 4 Jerry Sexton (Holmes 60); 5 Will Carrick-Smith; 6 Tom Johnson; 7 Sam Simmonds; 8 Sam Skinner (White 50).
16 Greg Bateman;17 Carl Rimmer;18 Alex Brown;19 Ed Holmes; 20 Ben White;21 Will Chudley;22 Laurence May;23 Jack Arnott.
Yellow card White 73 min
Tries: Skinner; James.
Penalties: Sweeney x 2
Referee Craig Maxwell-Keys