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Sarries cement top spot

Sat, 04 Jan 2014 17:45
Neil-de-kock-sarries-v-glou
O'Connor took centre stage
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Saracens ended a miserable run of results at Kingsholm as Mark McCall's men continued their irresistible form at the top of the Premiership.

Tries from Neil De Kock, David Strettle and Alex Goode saw Saracens run out comfortable winners as the visitors recorded their highest ever total at Kingsholm.

* In the other game on Saturday James O'Connor took centre stage, as London Irish secured their first Premiership win in seven over a Worcester side who remain rooted to the foot of the table.

O'Connor scored the only try of the game on the hour mark, his first for the club, and kicked 17 points as the Exiles leapfrogged Newcastle to take tenth spot.

We look at Saturday's matches!

London Irish 22-9 Worcester Warriors

James O'Connor took centre stage as London Irish secured their first Premiership win in seven over a Worcester side who remain rooted to the foot of the table.

O'Connor scored the only try of the game on the hour mark, his first for the club, and kicked 17 points as the Exiles leapfrogged Newcastle to take tenth spot.

The 23-year-old was a class above at the Madejski Stadium and finished off a period of concerted pressure from the home side's pack to score easily from 20 metres out.

Worcester captain Chris Pennell kicked all nine of the away side's points as the Warrior's fell to their 12th consecutive defeat of the season.

O'Connor pushed a fourth minute penalty wide as Irish looked to force territorial advantage and capitalise on their visitor's handling errors.

The Australian had better luck with his second effort on 12 minutes, converting from mid-way inside Worcester's half after the Warriors were penalised by Wayne Barnes at the breakdown.

The away side were searching for their first league win since March and managed to restore parity after Pennell's success with his first penalty attempt of the afternoon.

O'Connor was rarely out of the action throughout, jinking and darting when with the ball in hand and effective with the boot from deep.

The full-back, who has 44 caps for Australia, slotted a penalty just before the break, cancelling out Pennell's second effort of his own five minutes earlier.

With both sides struggling for tries this year, just 26 between them in the league before today, the dominance of the boot came as no surprise as the sides went into half time with the scores level.

The theme didn't shift early in the second period with O'Connor two further penalties to regain the lead for the hosts.

Irish were dominant up front, persistently forcing the Warrior's pack into conceding fouls with O'Connor the grateful recipient.

The 23-year-old made it three from three in the second half on 55 minutes before going over for his try moments later.

It was just rewards for the game's stand-out player who added the bonus points after converting from 15 metres in from the right-hand touchline.

Worcester finished the contest strongly, with Pennell adding to his personal tally with another penalty, but the Exile's onslaught immediately after the break had done the damage.

The scorers:

For London Irish:
Try:
O'Connor
Con: O'Connor
Pens: O'Connor 5

For Worcester Warriors:
Pens:
Pennell 3

Yellow cards: Leonardo Senatore (Worcester Warriors, 53), Jamie Hagan (London Irish, 73)

Teams:

London Irish: 15 James O'Connor, 14 Topsy Ojo, 13 Fergus Mulchrone, 12 Eamonn Sheridan, 11 Sailosi Tagicakibau, 10 Shane Geraghty, 9 Tomás O'Leary, 8 Ofisa Treviranus, 7 Blair Cowan, 6 Kieran Low, 5 Nic Rouse, 4 George Skivington, 3 Leo Halavatau, 2 Mike Mayhew, 1 John Yapp.
Replacements: 16 Jimmy Stevens, 17 Matt Parr, 18 Jamie Hagan, 19 Jebb Sinclair, 20 Declan Danaher, 21 Alex Lewington, 22 Ian Humphreys, 23 Ed Hoadley.

Worcester Warriors: 15 Chris Pennell (captain), 14 James Stephenson, 13 Alex Grove, 12 Ravai Fatiaki 11 Josh Drauniniu, 10 Paul Warwick, 9 Jeremy Su'a, 8 Leonardo Senatore, 7 Sam Betty, 6 Richard de Carpentier, 5 Mariano Galarza, 4 James Percival, 3 Rob O'Donnell, 2 Chris Brooker, 1 Ofa Fainga'anuku.
Replacements: 16 Ed Shervington, 17 George Porter, 18 John Andress, 19 Chris Jones, 20 Semisi Taulava, 21 Jonny Arr, 22 Ignacio Mieres, 23 Josh Matavesi.

Referee: Wayne Barnes
Assistant Referees: Roy Maybank & Andrew Pearce
TMO: Sean Davey.

Gloucester 8-29 Saracens

Saracens ended a miserable run of results at Kingsholm as Mark McCall's men continued their irresistible form at the top of the Premiership.

Tries from Neil De Kock, David Strettle and Alex Goode saw Saracens run out comfortable winners as the visitors recorded their highest ever total at Kingsholm.

It took just four minutes for Saracens, who had won just once at Gloucester since 2005, to assert their physical dominance at the breakdown - a strong drive from British Lion Mako Vunipola saw the visitors held up just short of the line.

Gloucester scrumhalf Jimmy Cowan was adjudged to have been caught on the wrong side of the ruck - he was sin-binned for his troubles and England flyhalf Owen Farrell slotted over the penalty in front of the posts to get the scoreboard ticking.

Sarries have laid waste to all but Northampton Saints this season, winning ten out of 11 games at the Premiership's halfway stage to become only the third side to do so in the tournament's history.

And it was easy to see why on nine minutes as Neil De Kock ran in for Saracens' first try of the afternoon in the corner - set-up expertly from a driving maul, followed by a break off the base from hooker Schalk Brits and an off-load - Farrell missed the resulting conversion.

Kingsholm has been far from a fortress this season - the Cherry & Whites' 12-6 victory over Worcester Warriors two weeks ago ending a three-game Premiership losing streak in front of their own fans.

But in poor conditions, Gloucester rarely looked like extending this record - Billy Vunipola so powerful in the loose for Saracens in the England No.8 audition against Ben Morgan, as the Cherry and Whites chased three wins in the Premiership for the first time since October 2012.

On 16 minutes Gloucester were penalised at scrum-time - a real Achilles heel this season, allowing Farrell a shot at goal to stretch Saracens' lead to 11-0

Saracens were now completely dominating at the set-piece and after Gloucester World Cup winner Mike Tindall was penalised for kicking the ball out on the full - a flowing move saw Brits feed winger David Strettle, who ran in under the posts for his eighth try of the season on 21 minutes - Farrell this timed missed his kick at goal.

And on the half hour it was 19-0 as Farrell landed a penalty to leave Gloucester with an absolute mountain to climb.

England-centre Billy Twelvetrees, kicking in place of No.10 Freddie Burns, handed Gloucester a late lifeline on 38 minutes, kicking a penalty to finally put his side on the scoreboard.

Alex Goode scored Saracens' third try of the afternoon on 47 minutes - a flowing move from the visitors saw the England full-back barge over - Farrell added the extras.

Gloucester at last found some momentum in the final 30 minutes - continued pressure saw Billy Vunipola yellow carded, while minutes later Saracens were down to 13 men as skipper Steve Borthwick was also sin-binned for taking a man out in the air at a line-out.

But Saracens showed their ability at scrum-time, resisting Gloucester pressure and winning a penalty from a five-metre scrum despite their obvious numerical disadvantage.

And it got worse for Gloucester as they conceded a further penalty, allowing Farrell to make it 29-3 despite playing with two men less.

Gloucester finally had something to cheer about with ten minutes remaining as Matt Cox burrowed over for a Cherry and Whites' score - unfortunately Twelvetrees couldn't add the extras.

The scorers:

For Gloucester:
Try:
Cox
Pen: Twelvetrees

For Saracens:
Tries:
De Kock, Strettle, Goode
Con: Farrell
Pens: Farrell 4

Yellow cards: Jimmy Cowan (Gloucester, 3), Billy Vunipola (Saracens, 54), Steve Borthwick (Saracens, 56)

Teams:

Gloucester: 15 Rob Cook, 14 Charlie Sharples, 13 Mike Tindall, 12 Billy Twelvetrees (captain), 11 Jonny May, 10 Freddie Burns, 9 Jimmy Cowan, 8 Ben Morgan 7 Matt Kvesic, 6 Matt Cox, 5 James Hudson, 4 Elliott Stooke, 3 Sila Puafisi, 2 Huia Edmonds, 1 Nick Wood.
Replacements: 16 Darren Dawidiuk, 17 Yann Thomas, 18 Shaun Knight, 19 Will James, 20 Gareth Evans, 21 Dan Robson, 22 Shane Monahan, 23 Martyn Thomas

Saracens: 15 Alex Goode, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Marcelo Bosch, 12 Brad Barritt, 11 David Strettle, 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Neil de Kock, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Kelly Brown, 6 Jackson Wray, 5 Alistair Hargreaves, 4 Steve Borthwick, 3 James Johnston, 2 Schalk Brits, 1 Mako Vunipola.
Replacements: 16 Jamie George, 17 Rhys Gill, 18 Matt Stevens, 19 Mouritz Botha, 20 Justin Melck, 21 Richard Wigglesworth, 22 Charlie Hodgson, 23 Chris Wyles.

Referee: Luke Pearce
Assistant Referees: Nigel Carrick & Peter Huckle
TMO: Rowan Kitt.

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