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Sarries open 10-point gap

Sun, 13 Apr 2014 17:13
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Falcons still in danger
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Saracens survived a late scare to see off Northampton Saints 28-24 and cement their place at the Premiership summit.

The result sees Saracens 10 points clear of the second-placed Saints - with just three rounds of league action remaining.

David Strettle, Kelly Brown and Marcelo Bosch, who also added two impressive penalties, all got on the scoresheet for Mark McCall's men at Allianz Park.

But having been 28-10 up with eight minutes to go, they were made to sweat as Matt Stevens' sin-binning was followed by tries from George North and Luther Burrell.

* In the other match on Sunday Andrew Fenby scored a first-half hat-trick as London Irish producing a pulsating first 40 minutes of rugby to see off Newcastle Falcons with a bonus point win at the Madejski stadium.

It not only gave the Exiles a 12-point buffer ahead of the second-from last Falcons, but also left Newcastle hovering perilously just seven points above Worcester Warriors at the bottom.

All of Irish's points came in the first half as Fenby's three tries, on top of scores from Fergus Mulchrone, Eamonn Sheridan and Gerard Ellis and ten points from James O'Connor, secured the victory.

We look at Sunday's games!

Saracens 28-24 Northampton Saints

Saracens survived a late scare to see off Northampton Saints 28-24 and cement their place at the Premiership summit.

David Strettle, Kelly Brown and Marcelo Bosch, who also added two impressive penalties, all got on the scoresheet for Mark McCall's men at Allianz Park.

But having been 28-10 up with eight minutes to go, they were made to sweat as Matt Stevens' sin-binning was followed by tries from George North and Luther Burrell.

Stephen Myler's conversion cut the gap to four points with four minutes to go, but Saracens clung on to record the win.

Northampton had won the previous four meetings between the teams, but Saracens were in front inside eight minutes as a neat grubber kick from Owen Farrell presented Strettle with a chance he couldn't pass up.

The conversion was missed and Northampton responded quickly as Myler pushed a penalty through the posts to cut the gap to two points.

And the away side were soon in front as a huge driving maul pushed referee Matthew Carley into awarding a penalty try.

Myler slotted the resulting conversion, but Northampton were soon two points behind again as Scotland flanker Brown's try was followed by a Farrell conversion.

Saracens were bossing the territory and only some resolute Northampton defending stopped them adding a third score inside the first half an hour.

Farrell had the chance to add more points from the tee, but spurned the opportunity in a game that was high on intensity.

Bosch soon showed his fly-half the way to the posts as he belted a penalty from inside his own half to extend the Saracens lead.

And after Jamie Elliott ran into trouble, the home side were handed another shot at goal, with Bosch again on target.

Saracens were oozing belief and they went 11 points up on the stroke of half-time as Farrell made Northampton pay for conceding yet another penalty.

Farrell was forced off at the break, with Charlie Hodgson coming on in his place, but Saracens continued their dominance.

They used it to devastating effect as Myler's poor pass in the midfield teed up an attack and Bosch latched onto a neat pass to score.

Hodgson took the score to 28-10 and Northampton needed a response with less than half an hour to play.

Saints had a man advantage for the closing stages as Stevens was sin-binned with eight minutes to go and they used it to good effect as Burrell burst over the line.

Myler cut the gap to 11 points and Saracens were soon sweating as North forced his way over in the corner.

The conversion hauled Saints to within four points with four minutes to go, but Saracens held on.

The scorers:

For Saracens:
Tries:
Bosch, Strettle, Brown
Cons: Farrell, Hodgson
Pens: Bosch 2, Farrell

For Northampton Saints:
Tries:
Burrell, North, Penalty try
Cons: Myler 3
Pen: Myler

Yellow card: Matt Stevens (Saracens, 70)

Teams:

Saracens: 15 Chris Wyles, 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 Mouritz Botha, 4 Steve Borthwick (captain), 3 James Johnston, 2 Schalk Brits, 1 Mako Vunipola.
Replacements: 16 Jamie George, 17 Richard Barrington, 18 Matt Stevens, 19 Eoin Sheriff, 20 Jacques Burger, 21 Richard Wigglesworth, 22 Charlie Hodgson, 23 Tim Streather.

Northampton Saints: 15 Ben Foden, 14 Jamie Elliott, 13 George Pisi, 12 Luther Burrell, 11 George North, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Lee Dickson, 8 Samu Manoa, 7 Tom Wood, 6 Calum Clark, 5 Christian Day, 4 Courtney Lawes, 3 Salesi Ma'afu, 2 Ross McMillan, 1 Alex Waller.
Replacements: 16 Mike Haywood, 17 Ethan Waller, 18 Gareth Denman, 19 Sam Dickinson, 20 Phil Dowson, 21 Kahn Fotuali'i, 22 Will Hooley, 23 James Wilson.

Referee: Gregory Garner
Assistant referees: Peter Huckle, Andy Watson
TMO: Rowan Kitt

London Irish 40-12 Newcastle Falcons

Andrew Fenby scored a first-half hat-trick as London Irish producing a pulsating first 40 minutes of rugby to see off Newcastle Falcons with a bonus point win at the Madejski stadium.

All of Irish's points came in the first half as Fenby's three tries, on top of scores from Fergus Mulchrone, Eamonn Sheridan and Gerard Ellis and ten points from James O'Connor, secured the victory.

Rory Clegg kicked all 12 of Newcastle's points and despite a more resolute defensive performance in the second half, they couldn't penetrate the Irish try line.

Irish raced out the blocks and were ahead on four minutes when Fenby crossed from close range after a good driving maul, allowing O'Connor to nail the conversion from close to the touchline.

Newcastle's reply was immediate as Irish conceded a penalty straight from the kick-off and Clegg got the visitors on the board.

But moments later it was Clegg's clearance after the next restart that was charged down to gift Irish their second try inside the first ten minutes.

Centre Mulchrone picking up the loose ball for the home side and running in the try before O'Connor once again was successful with the conversion.

Clegg slotted a second penalty for the Falcons but Irish's dominance became more evident when they added their third try through Fenby, who breezed through a gaping hole in the visiting defence.

Newcastle wouldn't go away however and scored two further penalties to remain within once score at 19-12 on the half-hour mark but that wasn't to last.

Irish soon brought up the bonus point thanks to Sheridan, who crossed on 35 minutes, while there was still time for Fenby to secure his hat-trick.

Ellis added a sixth try before half-time to bring to an end a pulsating first 40 minutes, O'Connor having converted all three late tries to give Irish a 40-12 lead at the break.

After such a disappointing end to the first half, Newcastle director of rugby Dean Richards wasted no time in making changes to his side.

Three fresh faces in George McGuigan, Scott Wilson and Joel Hodgson all appeared for the second half with replacement fly-half Hodgson troubling the Irish defence early on with a darting run.

Newcastle continued to pressurise as Mike Blair attempted to increase the game's tempo and the visitors should have had their first try after 55 minutes but knocked on as the try line beckoned.

Multiple penalties followed for Newcastle in the Irish 22 but the visitors failed to find a way through a stubborn defence as try-scoring opportunities continued to go begging.

Irish's best moment of the second half came in the 65th minute when Mulchrone collected Shane Geraghty's chip but the centre was brought down short of the line.

Geraghty then put in a try saving tackle on Sinoti Sinoti as the game drew to a close - the Samoan collecting Hodgson's pinpoint cross-field kick on the wing but failing to score as Geraghty forced him into touch.

The scorers:

For London Irish:
Tries:
Fenby 3, Mulchrone, Sheridan, Ellis
Cons: O'Connor 5

For Newcastle Falcons:
Pens:
Clegg 4

Teams:

London Irish: 15 James O'Connor, 14 Topsy Ojo, 13 Fergus Mulchrone, 12 Eamonn Sheridan, 11 Andrew Fenby, 10 Shane Geraghty, 9 Tomás O'Leary, 8 Ofisa Treviranus, 7 Gerard Ellis, 6 Blair Cowan, 5 Nic Rouse, 4 George Skivington (captain), 3 Leo Halavatau, 2 Mike Mayhew, 1 Matt Parr.
Replacements: 16 Jimmy Stevens, 17 John Yapp, 18 Jamie Hagan, 19 Ian Gough, 20 Bryn Evans, 21 Alex Lewington, 22 Myles Dorrian, 23 Darren Allinson.

Newcastle Falcons: 15 Noah Cato, 14 Ryan Shortland, 13 Jamie Helleur, 12 Lee Smith, 11 Sinoti Sinoti, 10 Rory Clegg, 9 Warren Fury, 8 Mark Wilson, 7 Andy Saull, 6 Will Welch (captain), 5 Fraser McKenzie, 4 Scott Macleod, 3 Oliver Tomaszczyk, 2 Matt Thompson, 1 Grant Shiells.
Replacements: 16 George McGuigan, 17 Gary Strain, 18 Scott Wilson, 19 Dom Barrow, 20 Richard Mayhew, 21 Mike Blair, 22 Joel Hodgson, 23 James Fitzpatrick.

Referee: Luke Pearce
Assistant referees: Simon McConnell, Paul Burton
TMO: Keith Lewis

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