Planet Rugby

Saracens take lead in Pool One

16th December 2012 16:57

Share:

Saracens Richard Wigglesworth

Created Sarries' try: Richard Wigglesworth

Saracens moved to the top of Heineken Cup Pool 1 on Sunday thanks to a 19-13 victory over Munster in a gripping tussle at Vicarage Road.

The results leave Sarries two points ahead of Racing Metro and three clear of Munster with two rounds still to play.

Crucially, the English club must still travel to Paris, where Munster were defeated in Round One.

The scored was locked at 10-all at the break after Doug Howlett scored to cancel out David Strettle's try for the hosts.

Ronan O'Gara put Munster in front from the kicking tee early in the second period but Owen Farrell was able to land three more shots at goal to give Saracens a hard-fought victory.

The win gave Saracens their first victory over the Irishmen in five attempts, after making six changes to the side which lost at Thomond Park last week.

Rob Penney meanwhile, kept the faith with his Munster side, making only one change, Casey Laulala replacing the injured Keith Earls in the back line.

Early Saracens play took them through the phases, but Farrell missed the first chance to get the scoreboard ticking over, just wide with his drop goal attempt after only seven minutes.

The England international made amends, scoring a penalty kick two minutes later, before his opposite number O'Gara matched him after 16 minutes.

Strettle, on his return to the side, raced on to a perfectly-weighted grubber kick from Richard Wigglesworth, dotting down in the corner for the first try of the game halfway through the first period.

Munster though, kept the pressure on the home side, and Howlett was the beneficiary of an intercepted Farrell pass on halfway, and supported James Downey, who made the interception. O'Gara equalised with the conversion.

The sides entered half-time on level terms, after Farrell missed a penalty attempt from the 22. Farrell missed a second penalty attempt shortly after the restart, before O'Gara showed him the way, as he slotted a long distance kick on 51 minutes to take the lead for the Irishmen.

A downpour midway through the game led to a series of handling errors from both sides. Farrell equalised on 56 minutes, before regaining the lead with a long-distance kick on the hour.

Will Fraser was yellow carded for a high tackle, and that gave Munster the chance to move out of their own half, as much of the period up to then had been played in the Irishmen's territory.

O'Gara lined up a drop-goal attempt at the end of a 22-phase play, but his kick was just wide, as his side put the pressure on Saracens' 14 men.

Munster held Saracens inside their own half for the duration of that sin-binning, but were unable to take real advantage, O'Gara missing a long-distance chance to level the scores with less than ten minutes remaining.

Back to a full complement, Saracens regained the upper hand, and it was Fraser who made amends for his earlier indiscretion, pressurising Munster into a penalty, giving Farrell the chance to score his fourth penalty of the game with only three minutes to play.

The fly-half accepted, and with a six point lead, the home side held out for the win which saw them leapfrog Munster to lead the pool going into the final qualifying stages.

The scorers:

For Saracens:
Try: Strettle
Con: Farrell
Pens: Farrell 4
Yellow card: Fraser (62nd min - high tackle)

For Munster:
Try: Howlett
Con: O'Gara
Pens: O'Gara 2

Saracens: 15 Alex Goode, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Joel Tomkins, 12 Brad Barritt, 11 David Strettle, 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Richard Wigglesworth, 8 Kelly Brown, 7 Will Fraser, 6 George Kruis, 5 Mouritz Botha, 4 Steve Borthwick (capt), 3 Matt Stevens, 2 Schalk Brits, 1 Rhys Gill.
Replacements: 16 John Smit, 17 Mako Vunipola, 18 Petrus du Plessis, 19 Eoin Sheriff, 20 Ernst Joubert, 21 Neil de Kock, 22 Charlie Hodgson, 23 Chris Wyles.

Munster: 15 Felix Jones, 14 Doug Howlett (capt), 13 Casey Laulala, 12 James Downey, 11 Simon Zebo, 10 Ronan O'Gara, 9 Conor Murray, 8 James Coughlan, 7 Peter O'Mahony, 6 Dave O'Callaghan, 5 Donnacha Ryan, 4 Donncha O'Callaghan, 3 BJ Botha, 2 Mike Sherry, 1 David Kilcoyne.
Replacements: 16 Damien Varley, 17 Wian du Preez, 18 Stephen Archer, 19 Billy Holland, 20 Peter Butler, 21 Duncan Williams, 22 Ian Keatley, 23 Luk O'Dea.

Venue: Vicarage Road
Referee: Pascal Gauzere (France)
Assistant referees: Jérôme Garces (France), Jean-Luc Rebollal (France)
Television match official: Gérard Borreani (France)

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Saturday , November 22
Exeter vs WaspsExeter vs Wasps Preview
London Irish vs BathLondon Irish vs Bath Preview
Sunday , November 23
Saracens vs NorthamptonSaracens vs Northampton Preview
London Welsh vs Leicester TigersLondon Welsh vs Leicester Tigers Preview
Friday , November 28
Bath vs Harlequins19:45
More Aviva Premiership fixtures
International Match
Saturday , November 22
Italy vs South AfricaItaly vs South Africa Preview
Scotland vs TongaScotland vs Tonga Preview
Romania vs CanadaRomania vs Canada Preview
Ireland vs AustraliaIreland vs Australia Preview
Wales vs New ZealandWales vs New Zealand Preview
England vs SamoaEngland vs Samoa Preview
France vs ArgentinaFrance vs Argentina Preview
Sunday , November 23
Georgia vs JapanGeorgia vs Japan Preview
More International Match fixtures
Guinness PRO12
Sunday , November 23
Treviso vs LeinsterTreviso vs Leinster Preview
Edinburgh vs Cardiff BluesEdinburgh vs Cardiff Blues Preview
Friday , November 28
Munster vs Ulster19:35
Cardiff Blues vs Treviso19:35
More Guinness PRO12 fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Friday , November 21
Harlequins 12 - 16 Sale SharksHarlequins vs Sale Sharks Report
Newcastle Falcons 20 - 10 GloucesterNewcastle Falcons vs Gloucester Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Fiji 20 - 14 USAFiji vs USA Report
More International Match results
Guinness PRO12
Dragons 12 - 38 MunsterDragons vs Munster Report
Ulster 25 - 16 OspreysUlster vs Ospreys Report
Scarlets 19 - 9 Glasgow WarriorsScarlets vs Glasgow Warriors Report
Connacht 43 - 3 ZebreConnacht vs Zebre Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , November 16
Leicester Tigers 21 - 21 SaracensLeicester Tigers vs Saracens Report
Wasps 71 - 7 London WelshWasps vs London Welsh Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Ireland 49 - 7 GeorgiaIreland vs Georgia Report
More International Match results
Aviva Premiership
Saturday , November 15
Sale Sharks 36 - 8 London IrishSale Sharks vs London Irish Report
Bath 23 - 14 Newcastle FalconsBath vs Newcastle Falcons Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Romania 13 - 18 JapanRomania vs Japan Report
England 28 - 31 South AfricaEngland vs South Africa Report
France 29 - 26 AustraliaFrance vs Australia Report
Scotland 16 - 24 New ZealandScotland vs New Zealand Report
Tonga 40 - 12 USATonga vs USA Report
Wales 17 - 13 FijiWales vs Fiji Report
More International Match results
Aviva Premiership
Friday , November 14
Gloucester 15 - 22 HarlequinsGloucester vs Harlequins Report
Northampton 18 - 24 ExeterNorthampton vs Exeter Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Italy 18 - 20 ArgentinaItaly vs Argentina Report
Canada 13 - 23 SamoaCanada vs Samoa Report
More International Match results
LV= Cup
Cardiff Blues 19 - 13 Scarlets
Ospreys 35 - 51 DragonsOspreys vs Dragons Report
Sunday , November 9
Wasps 43 - 22 London Irish
More LV= Cup results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Northampton726
2Exeter724
3Bath724
4Saracens724
5Wasps720