Vunipola injury taints dramatic draw

Sat, 13 Jan 2018 21:53
Large ospreys v saracens 800

CHAMPIONS CUP REPORT: Ospreys and defending champions Saracens played to a 15-all draw in dramatic fashion at the Liberty Stadium on Saturday.

A Dan Biggar penalty a minute from regulation time secured the draw for Ospreys - which leaves both teams still in with a shout of making the play-offs going into the final round of league action next week.

Flyhalves Dan Bigger and Owen Farrell produced all the points - five penalties each.

Northampton Saints did both teams a huge favour when they knocked over Pool Two leaders Clermont Auvergne earlier in the day.

Clermont sits on 18 points, followed by Ospreys (15), Sarries (13) and Saints (out of the running on six points).

Clermont host Ospreys next week and Saracens are at home to Saints.

However, of much bigger concern for Sarries will be yet another injury to No.8 Billy Vunipola - who failed to emerge from the dressing room in the second half, after injuring his wrist in an attempted tackle.

He will undergo scabs in Sunday or Monday to determine the extent of his wrist injury.

It was Vunipola's first appearance of the season after a lengthy lay-off due to a knee injury.

The early pressure paid dividends for Saracens in the Welsh capital as Farrell nudged the visitors into a 6-0 lead in the opening quarter courtesy of Ospreys' indiscipline.

Ospreys had a prime opportunity to seize the initiative when Rhys Webb released Ashley Beck deep into Saracens territory, only for the centre to squander possession as his inside pass was unable to locate an Ospreys jersey.

Farrell went on to trade more penalty kicks with opposite number and Wales flyhalf Dan Biggar as Saracens carried a slender 9-6 lead into the break.

In a bruising encounter, both sides began emptying their benches and Biggar levelled the scores at 9-9 with his third three-pointer of the evening, only for Farrell to nudge the visitors back ahead.

In slotting a fourth penalty, Farrell surpassed Argentine Diego Dominguez to move fourth in the all-time European points scorers charts with 647 to his name.

Saracens' American wing Chris Wyles was sent to the sin bin on 66 minutes and Ospreys made the personnel advantage count as Biggar drew the sides level once more with eight minutes to play.

England's playmaker extraordinaire Farrell thought he had the final say as he rounded his tally up to 650, but Biggar booted Ospreys to parity in the dying embers of the match.

The scorers:

For Ospreys:
Pens:
Biggar 5

For Saracens:
Pens:
Farrell 5    

Yellow card: Chris Wyles (Saracens, 65 - foul play, tackling a player in the air)

Teams:

Ospreys: 15 Sam Davies, 14 Jeff Hassler, 13 Ashley Beck, 12 Owen Watkin, 11 Dan Evans, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Rhys Webb, 8 Rob McCusker, 7 Justin Tipuric, 6 Olly Cracknell, 5 Alun Wyn Jones (captain), 4 Bradley Davies, 3 Dmitri Arhip, 2 Scott Baldwin, 1 Nicky Smith.
Replacements: 16 Scott Otten, 17 Gareth Thomas, 18 Ma’afu Fia, 19 Adam Beard, 20 Will Jones, 21 Tom Habberfield, 22 Kieron Fonotia, 23 Dafydd Howells.

Saracens: 15 Alex Goode, 14 Sean Maitland, 13 Marcelo Bosch, 12 Brad Barritt, 11 Liam Williams, 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Richard Wigglesworth, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Calum Clark, 6 Michael Rhodes, 5 Will Skelton, 4 Maro Itoje, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Jamie George, 1 Mako Vunipola.
Replacements: 16 Christopher Tolofua, 17 Richard Barrington, 18 Juan Figallo, 19 George Kruis, 20 Schalk Burger, 21 Ben Spencer, 22 Alex Lozowski, 23 Chris Wyles.

Referee: John Lacey (Ireland)
Assistant referees: David Wilkinson (Ireland), Eddie Hogan O'Connell (Ireland)
TMO: Kevin Beggs (Ireland)

Source: @ChampionsCup

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