May 16, 2015
Saracens secure play-off berth in nine try win
Saracens booked a place in the Aviva Premiership semi-finals where they will face Northampton Saints with a 68-17 win over London Welsh at the Kassam Stadium in Oxford.
The convincing scoreline on a nervous afternoon meant the visitors went through to the knockout stages on points difference and secured the visit to Franklins Gardens on Saturday after finishing fourth in the Premiership table.
Chris Ashton scored four tries in the victory and there were also scores for Billy Vunipola, Mako Vunipola, David Strettle, Juan Figallo and Alex Goode.
Saracens were on the board within five minutes. After a series of penalties that ended with Welsh second row Matt Corker sent to the sin bin, the forward took another lineout and drove over from close range with Billy Vunipola getting the touchdown. Owen Farrell added the extras.
But London Welsh equalised with 10 minutes on the clock. Capitalising on turnover ball, Tom May’s dancing feet took him clear of the defence and he released Nic Reynolds to score. Chris Elder added the conversion to level the scores.
But before long Saracens were back in front. A scrum in centre field went through the hands before David Strettle got the ball out wide and hot-stepped his way into the corner. Farrell converted from the touchline.
The home side then spent much of the next 10 minutes in the Saracens 22 but all they had to show for their efforts and hard work was an Elder penalty.
On their next attacked, Saracens had another try. Stealing Welsh ball from a lineout on the home side’s 22, the forwards went through the phases inching their way towards the line before Mako Vunipola went over under the sticks. Farrell converted.
But from the kick off Elder took the ball unopposed and raced home before adding the extras.
The visitors wrapped up the bonus point on the stroke of half time. Another drive from the pack from a lineout saw them stopped just short of the line but Chris Ashton picked up from the base and dived over to make it 26-17 at the break to the visitors.
After the break, the visitors scored their fifth of the game. Terrific defence forced the Welsh attack back 20metres and then after winning the penalty, Alex Goode took a quick tap and raced home from halfway. Farrell converted.
A frustrating 10 minutes followed as mistakes crept into the game before a sixth try came. Again it was a quick tap penalty for the visiting side and replacement prop Juan Figallo went the final inch over the line.
The try of the game followed minutes later. Going from inside their own half, Farrell made the break through the defensive line before it went through the hands of Goode and Chris Wyles before he offloaded to Ashton for his second of the game.
Ashton completed his hat-trick minutes later when Goode got the ball out wide and released him to score in the corner and number four of the game came in their next attacked after Duncan Taylor scythed through the Welsh defence.
Another scored followed when replacement Charlie Hodgson darted through two defenders and ran the ball in from 35metres to score in the corner. Farrell added the extra two points and wrapped upthe 68-17 win.
London Welsh: 15. Seb Jewell, 14. Alan Awcock, 13. Nic Reynolds, 12. Tom May (c), 11. Chris Elder, 10. Olly Barkley, 9. Rob Lewis, 1. Eddie Aholelei, 2. Koree Britton, 3. Jack Gilding, 4. Josh McNally,
5. Matt Corker, 6. Ben West, 7. Darren Waters, 8. Opeti Fonua.
Replacements: 16. Nathan Morris, 17. Nathan Trevett, 18. Ben Cooper, 19. Daniel Browne, 20. James Down, 21. Paul Rowley
Replacements Morris for Britton(50)~Trevett for Aholelei(51)~Cooper for Gilding(50)~Browne for Waters(41)~Down for West(45)~Rowley for Lewis(61)~Stegmann for Fonua(57)~ Robinson for Barkley(64).
London Welsh Scorers
Tries Reynolds (11);Elder (32).
Cons Elder x 2
Saracens: 15 Alex Goode; 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Marcelo Bosch, 12 Chris Wyles, 11 David Strettle; 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Neil de Kock; 1 Mako Vunipola, 2 Schalk Brits, 3 Petrus Du Plessis; 4 George Kruis, 5 Alistair Hargreaves ©; 6 Jackson Wray, 7 Jacques Burger, 8 Billy Vunipola.
Replacements: 16 Jamie George, 17 Rhys Gill, 18 Juan Figallo, 19 Maro Itoje, 20 Kelly Brown, 21 Richard Wigglesworth, 22 Charlie Hodgson, 23 Duncan Taylor.
Replacements George for Brits (50)~Gill for M.Vunipola(60)~Figallo for Du Plessis(50)~Itoje for Hargreaves(55)~Brown for Burger(67)~Wigglesworth for De Kock(50)~Hodgson for Wyles(72)~Taylor for Bosch(61).
Tries B.Vunipola (6);Strettle (15); M.Vunipola(31); Ashton (39-63-66-68);Goode (44); Figallo(60); Hodgson (78).
Cons Farrell x 9.