Sarries retain stranglehold at the top

Sat, 28 Sep 2013 18:04
Large neil de kock   chris ashton Large premiership launch 2013 Large chris ashton saracens

Chris Ashton's second Premiership try of the season helped Saracens continue their stranglehold over Harlequins.

Chris Ashton's second Premiership try of the season helped Saracens continue their stranglehold over Harlequins.

Sarries came from behind to secure a 22-12 victory at the Stoop.

The result means Sarries now have a four-point lead at the top of the table - their 19 points, with four wins in four starts, bettering Northampton Saints (15) and Bath (13).

Leicester Tigers, on 11, play on Sunday.

* In other Saturday action Guy Mercer bagged a pair of tries to underline his huge potential as Bath recorded their third Premiership victory of the season with a 33-18 win over London Irish at The Rec.

* It was the Worcester old boys who did the damage for London Wasps as Dai Young's men ended an 11-game losing sequence to sink Dean Ryan's Worcester Warriors.

We look at all Saturday's action!

Bath 33-18 London Irish

Guy Mercer bagged a pair of tries to underline his huge potential as Bath recorded their third Premiership victory of the season with a 33-18 win over London Irish at The Rec.

The 20-year-old flank scored two of Bath's five first-half tries as they ran rampant on home soil to extend their unbeaten home Premiership record to eight games.

Fellow rising English starlet George Ford also turned in a star performance as he pulled the strings from the midfield, scoring an early candidate for Premiership try of the season as he ended the afternoon with a personal haul of 13 points.

Shane Geraghty, only brought into the side after Ian Humphreys suffered an injury during the warm-up, scored all 18 points for Irish, who are still without successive Premiership victories since October 2010.

Bath had named a starting XV which included Anthony Watson, Jonathan Joseph and Matt Garvey; all making their first appearances against former club London Irish since their off-season moves to The Rec.

And it was none other than centre Joseph who got the opening score after just four minutes, putting his hand up for selection for England's upcoming Autumn Internationals as he went over from close range, with Ford adding the extra points.

Geraghty narrowed the deficit to 7-3 with a ninth minute penalty after Bath were caught offside, but flashed his next kick wide of the uprights and the home side took full advantage.

Quick thinking from Ford at a line-out allowed Mercer to break through Irish's unorganised backline to cross at a canter on 17 minutes, with the architect adding the extra points after the TMO awarded Bath the try.

Ford continued to dictate the tempo and on 26 minutes he extended Bath's lead further with a stunning solo effort.

Starting from within his own half the 20-year-old embarked on a mazy 60-metre run which opened a large hole in the Exiles back line to cross despite the valiant efforts of Marland Yarde.

And Bath had soon secured the bonus point after a strong line-out drive allowed hooker Rob Webber to cross off the back of a maul to put the home side 26-3 ahead after 30 minutes after Ford failed to add the extras.

Geraghty gave Irish a glimmer of home as he immediately crossed in the corner and converted but as half-time approached Mercer stepped inside after being put through by Fijian wing Semesa Rokoduguni to burst clear for his second of the afternoon.

Ford successfully added the extra points and the away team's frustrations were evident as David Paice was shown yellow at the end of the half after tempers flared, leaving them down to 14 men and trailing 33-10 at the interval.

Despite their numerical disadvantage the visitors came out strongly in the second half and Geraghty added another three points after an early Irish surge forced an infringement from the hosts at the breakdown.

But Brian Smith's side were unable to build on their early momentum, with Alex Lewington knocking on in sight of the line on 55 minutes before they went down to 14 men again after Jamie Hagan was yellow carded for collapsing a scrum on the hour mark.

Geraghty crossed again for Irish late on but it was too little too late for the visitors as Bath made it two Premiership wins from two at The Rec ahead of the visit of West Country rivals Gloucester in four weeks time.

The scorers:

For Bath:
Joseph, Mercer 2, Ford, Webber
Cons: Ford 4

For London Irish:
Geraghty 2
Con: Geraghty
Pens: Geraghty 2

Yellow cards: David Paice (London Irish, 40), Jamie Hagan (London Irish, 57)


Bath: 15 Anthony Watson, 14 Semesa Rokoduguni, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Kyle Eastmond, 11 Matt Banahan, 10 George Ford, 9 Peter Stringer, 8 Leroy Houston, 7 Guy Mercer, 6 Matt Garvey, 5 Dave Attwood (captain), 4 Dominic Day, 3 David Wilson, 2 Rob Webber, 1 Paul James.
Replacements: 16 Tom Dunn, 17 Anthony Perenise, 18 Kane Palma-Newport, 19 Stuart Hooper, 20 Alafoti Fa'osiliva, 21 Martin Roberts, 22 Ollie Devoto, 23 Tom Biggs.

London Irish: 15 Topsy Ojo, 14 Marland Yarde, 13 Fergus Mulchrone, 12 Eamonn Sheridan, 11 Alex Lewington, 10 Ian Humphreys; 9 Tomás O'Leary (captain), 8 Ofisa Treviranus, 7 Declan Danaher, 6 Kieran Low, 5 Jebb Sinclair, 4 Nic Rouse, 3 Leo Halavatau, 2 David Paice, 1 Matt Parr.
Replacements: 16 Jimmy Stevens, 17 John Yapp, 18 Jamie Hagan, 19 Ian Gough, 20 Bryn Evans, 21 Blair Cowan, 22 Shane Geraghty, 23 Darren Allinson.

Referee: Luke Pearce
Assistant Referees: Paul Burton & Peter Huckle
TMO: Keith Lewis

London Wasps 32-16 Worcester Warriors

It was the Worcester old boys who did the damage for London Wasps as Dai Young's men ended an 11-game losing sequence to sink Dean Ryan's Worcester Warriors.

In the battle of the basement boys; it was former Warriors Andy Goode and Matt Mullan who shone for Wasps as the home side erased an unwanted losing run in all competitions.

England wing Christian Wade, prop Jake Cooper-Woolley and Guy Thompson also went over for London Wasps as Worcester's atrocious form on the road continued.

The early play was dominated by the boot as the two flyhalves, Andy Goode for Wasps and Worcester's Ignacio Mieres, traded penalties in a tight and cagey opening.

Goode, playing against Worcester for the first time since leaving Sixways in the off-season, twice put Wasps in front with routine penalties inside the first 10 minutes.

Argentine Mieres matched his opposite number on each occasion with kicks of his own before slotting over for a third time to give the visitors the lead on 17 minutes.

The 26-year-old is in his first season at Worcester after three years racking up 395 points with Exeter and he was a calming influence on the visitors until he was he was injured and replaced by Danny Gray after 36 minutes.

As the half wore on the home side began to grow in confidence and finally broke over the Worcester try-line on 31 minutes.

Former Warrior Mullan, who moved to London to help progress his international career with England, barged over from five metres out after a lightening break down the left wing from Josh Bassett.

Just two minutes later Mieres was unable to capitalise on Goode's missed conversion after edging a touch-line penalty wide of the post.

The Warrior's flyhalf was in the thick of the action but his afternoon took a turn for the worse as he went off for concussion as the game ticked towards the interval.

The Warriors have not won away from home in the Premiership since they visited Adams Park on New Year's Day 2012 and beat their hosts 6-0 and their quest to overturn that unwanted statistic got worse on 43 minutes as England hopeful Christian Wade scored an opportunist try for London Wasps - Goode missed his kick at goal though.

And Worcester's chances of leaving Adams Park with a win were effectively ended just minutes later as Jake Cooper-Woolley burrowed over from close range, capitalizing on a powerful break from Ashley Johnson - again Goode missed to leave the score at 21-9.

London Wasps would have been out of sight before 50 minutes had Goode not missed four kicks at goal.

Ryan's side continued to make basic errors and very nearly conceded again just minutes later as Goode and his forward pack were held up just short of the line after a period of sustained London Wasps pressure.

Worcester, who slumped to their ninth straight Premiership loss, fell further behind just before the hour as Goode slotted a penalty to make the score 24-9.

Worcester have also failed to score a try at Saturday's venue since Sam Tuitupou's effort in September 2008 but that statistic changed on 64 minutes as Josh Drauniniu scored and Gray converted the effort.

A yellow card for Chris Brooker on 67 minutes effectively ended the Worcester fightback and Wasps took full advantage of their numerical advantage.

Guy Thompson secured the London Wasps try bonus point on 68 minutes but again Goode missed his kick at goal to extend the home team's advantage to 29-16.

Another former Warrior, Joe Carlisle on for Goode, extended London Wasps' lead to 32-16 with eight minutes remaining as Worcester all but waved the white flag.

The scorers:

For Wasps:
Mullan, Wade, Cooper-Woolley, Thompson
Pen: Goode 3, Carlisle

For Worcester:
Con: Gray
Pens: Mieres 3

Yellow card: Chris Brooker (Worcester Warriors, 67)


Wasps: 15 Elliot Daly, 14 Christian Wade, 13 Ben Jacobs, 12 Chris Bell (captain), 11 Josh Bassett, 10 Andy Goode, 9 Charlie Davies, 8 Nathan Hughes, 7 Sam Jones, 6 Ashley Johnson, 5 Kearnan Myall, 4 Joe Launchbury, 3 Jake Cooper-Woolley, 2 Carlo Festuccia, 1 Matt Mullan.
Replacements: 16 Tom Lindsay, 17 Simon McIntyre, 18 Will Taylor, 19 Tom Palmer, 20 Guy Thompson, 21 Jack Moates, 22 Joe Carlisle, 23 Charlie Hayter.

Worcester: 15 Chris Pennell, 14 Josh Drauniniu, 13 Ravai Fatiaki, 12 Josh Matavesi, 11 David Lemi, 10 Ignacio Mieres, 9 Paul Hodgson, 8 Semisi Taulava, 7 Jake Abbott, 6 Jonathan Thomas (captain), 5 Chris Jones, 4 Mike Williams, 3 Euan Murray, 2 Ed Shervington, 1 George Porter.
Replacements: 16 Chris Brooker, 17 Paul Andrew, 18 John Andress, 19 Dean Schofield, 20 Sam Betty, 21 Jeremy Su'a, 22 Danny Gray, 23 Dean Hammond.

Referee: Greg Garner
Assistant Referees: Roy Maybank & Andrew Pearce
TMO: David Grashoff

Harlequins 12-22 Saracens

Chris Ashton's second Premiership try of the season helped Saracens continue their stranglehold over Harlequins as they came from behind to secure victory at the Stoop.

Harlequins were hoping for a better run out at the Stoop against Sarries, having fallen to Northampton Saints last time out in front of their home fans.

And things looked good as the two sides heading into the interval with Nick Evans outkicking opposite number Owen Farrell as the home side led 12-6.

But England wing Ashton was sent over after the restart and while the kicks at the posts dried up for Evans Saracens' flyhalf Farrell was kept busy as the visitors eased to their sixth win in their last seven games against Harlequins as well as their fourth straight to start the new campaign.

It was the home side who started the brighter and with just three minutes on the board Evans had his side in front as he kicked his first three-pointer of the game.

But things almost turned very sour for the Kiwi just moments later as following a deep restart by the visitors his attempted clearance was charged down by Richard Wigglesworth, but the scrum-half couldn't gather the ball to dot it down as it ran out of play.

But this was a sign of things to come and Saracens began to threaten and Harlequins needed a last-ditch tackle from George Lowe to prevent David Strettle going over in the left corner.

However Sarries soon found themselves down to 14 men on 11 minutes as Alex Goode was dent to the bin for a professional foul as he was deemed to have deliberately blocked Ugo Monye as the wing looked to chase his own kick.

Evans kicked the resulting penalty and Harlequins had built an early 6-0 lead, although Farrell did get his side on the scoresheet five minutes later with a penalty to half the deficit.

However Evans replied with a penalty of his own as Quins regained their six-point cushion, although they were soon given a reminder of the danger Sarries pose as they were caught napping at a line-out and Kelly Brown thought he had gone over only for Tom Williams - on his 200th Harlequins appearance - hold him up with a superb tackle.

A skirmish broke out before the television match official was able to rule the try out and the home side were reduced to 14 men as Maurie Fa'asavalu was shown a yellow card.

Two minutes later Farrell had got his side back to within three points with a penalty but immediately after the restart Duncan Taylor was pinged for not rolling away and Evans kicked one of his own as Quins headed into half-time 12-6 ahead.

However Saracens started the second half like a team possessed and just five minutes after the restart took the lead for the first time as a flowing move ensued between Farrell, Chris Wyles and Ashton with the latter dotting down under the posts.

Things went from bad to worse for the hosts as just three minutes later Joe Marler was sent to the bin for deliberately pulling down a maul with Saracens well and truly on top.

And Harlequins had no answer for Sarries' dominance as Farrell kicked another three penalties while Quins were unable to add to their first-half scores, Evans wayward with a 74th-minute effort to sum their afternoon up.

The scorers:

For Harlequins:
Evans 4

For Saracens:
Con: Farrell
Pens: Farrell 5

Yellow cards: Alex Goode (Saracens, 11), Maurie Fa'asavalu (Harlequins, 34), Joe Marler (Harlequins, 53)


Harlequins: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Tom Williams, 13 George Lowe, 12 Tom Casson, 11 Ugo Monye, 10 Nick Evans, 9 Danny Care, 8 Tom Guest, 7 Chris Robshaw (captain), 6 Maurie Fa'asavalu, 5 George Robson, 4 Nick Easter, 3 Will Collier, 2 Rob Buchanan, 1 Joe Marler
Replacements: 16 Dave Ward, 17 Mark Lambert, 18 Kyle Sinckler, 19 George Merrick, 20 Luke Wallace, 21 Karl Dickson, 22 Ben Botica, 23 Matt Hopper.

Saracens: 15 Alex Goode, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Chris Wyles, 12 Duncan Taylor, 11 David Strettle, 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Richard Wigglesworth, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Jacques Burger, 6 Kelly Brown, 5 George Kruis, 4 Steve Borthwick (captain), 3 Matt Stevens, 2 Schalk Brits, 1 Mako Vunipola.
Replacements: 16 Jamie George, 17 Nick Auterac, 19 James Johnston, 19 Alistair Hargreaves, 20 Jackson Wray, 21 Neil de Kock, 22 Michael Tagicakibau, 23 Jack Wilson.

Referee: Martin Fox
Assistant Referees: Gareth Copsey & Andy Watson
TMO: Sean Davey

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Team P W D L Pts
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Saracens 22 16 0 6 77
Wasps 22 14 1 7 71
Newcastle Falcons 22 14 0 8 63
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