Planet Rugby

Saracens race back into contention

28th March 2010 16:50

Share:

Schalk Brits Saracens Newcastle

Double Trouble: Schalk Brits scored a brace of tries

Saracens punctuated their dip in form in emphatic style at Vicarage Road on Sunday, notching up a sizzling, seven-try 58-15 victory over the hapless Newcastle Falcons in the Guinness Premiership.

The Fez Men's first bonus-point victory of the season pushes Newcastle closer to the relegation zone. There are now just four points between the bottom four: Newcastle (28), Sale (27), Leeds (27), Worcester (25).

Saracens welcomed back former England back-row Hugh Vyvyan, who had been out with a knee injury since January 24.

Unbeaten in their first 10 Guinness Premiership fixtures - one drawn - Saracens lost five out of their last six, dropping from top of the table to third.

And having decided to play four 'home' games at Wembley Stadium this season, the visit of Newcastle represented the final Vicarage Road fixture, unless they finish in the top two and secure a home play-off semi-final.

Newcastle have been drawn slowly but surely into the relegation morass involving Sale, Leeds and Worcester, and needed points from this game to improve their chances of survival.

And they made a sound start when fly-half Jimmy Gopperth scrambled over a scruffy but valid drop-goal in the third minute following a lineout.

Gopperth's second score three minutes later was far more impressive, a huge penalty, struck from half-way after Saracens offended at a scrum.

Saracens response came within 60 seconds - and it was impressive. Hooker Schalk Brits surged toward the Newcastle posts and either handed-off or sidestepped four opponents before diving over the line for a very fine solo try, converted by Glen Jackson.

Referee Chris White, always hot on breakdown area offences such as going off your feet, penalised Saracens on 11 minutes and Gopperth was again on target. But again, the lead was short-lived as Jackson replied in kind with a well-struck kick from wide out on the left in the 13th minute.

And the home supporters, so often served up pragmatic rugby this season, were treated to a second try in the 15th minute. Running at pace, Adam Powell shrugged off a tepid tackle by Gcobani Bobo before off-loading the perfect pass to his right where Brits was again to be found thundering for the line - and his second try.

Gopperth kept Newcastle in the game with another well-struck goal to complete an action-packed opening quarter. But the ease with which Saracens cut through the visiting defence had to be alarming for their management as Saracens produced a running game not seen from them often this campaign.

In fact, Newcastle were fortunate not to be well adrift at this stage because Jackson missed three penalties in a 10-minute period, with his team dominating proceedings.

But they were not to be denied. Andy Saull was denied a try on 35 minutes, forced into touch inches from the line.

But Newcastle lost the lineout, Jackson worked the ball left and it was Saull who barged over between the posts in the 37th minute, Jackson converting.

He added a penalty in the final minute of the half, leaving Newcastle with a daunting task.

Gopperth eased that by three points in the 50th minute when Saracens gave away a penalty at the breakdown, but the hosts had dominated the previous 10 minutes, another sustained attack forced Newcastle to concede three points rather than seven as Jackson fired over his sixth successful kick.

Noah Cato then crushed the visitors on the hour, breaking clear on to a loose ball from inside his half and holding off four challenges to score behind the posts.

Jackson converted, as he did six minutes later when captain Ernest Joubert intercepted a loose pass from Micky Young and galloped clear.

Jackson's fifth conversion was soon followed by a sixth as replacement wing Richard Haughton exposed Newcastle's wet-tissue defence with a run up the right that ended when he dived behind the posts. By now it was a rout, and Joubert scored his second try in injury-time.

The scorers:

For Saracens:
Tries: Brits 2, Saull, Cato, Joubert, Haughton, Joubert
Cons: Jackson 7
Pens: Jackson 3

For Newcastle Falcons:
Pens: Gopperth 4
Drop: Gopperth

The teams:

Saracens: 15 Alex Goode, 14 Rodd Penney, 13 Adam Powell, 12 Brad Barritt, 11 Noah Cato, 10 Glen Jackson, 9 Neil de Kock, 8 Ernst Joubert (capt), 7 Andy Saull, 6 Jacques Burger, 5 Mouritz Botha, 4 Hugh Vyvyan, 3 Petrus du Plessis, 2 Schalk Brits, 1 Rhys Gill.
Replacements: 16 Fabio Ongaro, 17 Matias Aguero, 18 Richard Skuse, 19 Tom Ryder, 20 Justin Melck, 21 Moses Rauluni, 22 Derick Hougaard, 23 Richard Haughton.

Newcastle Falcons: 15 Alex Tait, 14 Danny Williams, 13 Gcobani Bobo, 12 Tane Tu'ipulotu, 11 Charlie Amesbury, 10 Jimmy Gopperth, 9 Micky Young, 8 Peter Browne, 7 Brent Wilson, 6 Filipo Levi, 5 Tim Swinson, 4 James Hudson, 3 Carl Hayman (capt), 2 Rob Vickers, 1 Jon Golding.
Replacements: 16 Alex Walker, 17 Micky Ward, 18 Kieran Brookes, 19 Mark Sorenson, 20 Josh Afu, 21 Hall Charlton, 22 Tom Catterick, 23 Rob Vickerman.

Referee: Chris White
Assistant referees: Peter Huckle, Roger Baileff
Television match official: John Burtenshaw

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Friday , September 19
Gloucester vs Exeter19:45
Saturday , September 20
Sale vs London Welsh14:00
London Irish vs Saracens15:00
Harlequins vs Wasps15:00
Bath vs Leicester15:15
Sunday , September 21
Newcastle vs Northampton14:00
More Aviva Premiership fixtures
Guinness PRO12
Friday , September 19
Munster vs Zebre19:30
Cardiff Blues vs Ulster19:35
Connacht vs Leinster19:35
Saturday , September 20
Newport Gwent D'gons vs Glasgow14:40
Scarlets vs Benetton Treviso18:00
Sunday , September 21
Ospreys vs Edinburgh16:00
More Guinness PRO12 fixtures
Top 14
Friday , September 19
Brive vs Toulon18:00
Saturday , September 20
Racing Metro Paris vs Toulouse18:00
La Rochelle vs Bordeaux-Begles18:00
Grenoble vs Bayonne18:00
Castres vs Oyonnax18:00
Clermont Auvergne vs Lyon18:00
Montpellier vs Stade Francais18:00
More Top 14 fixtures
Currie Cup
Friday , September 19
Lions vs Pumas19:10
Saturday , September 20
Western Province vs Griquas15:00
Blue Bulls vs Sharks17:05
Eastern Province Kings vs Cheetahs19:10
More Currie Cup fixtures
ITM Cup
Thursday , September 18
Northland vs TaranakiNorthland vs Taranaki Preview
Friday , September 19
Counties Manukau vs Canterbury19:35
More ITM Cup fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
ITM Cup
Wednesday, September 17
Southland 14 - 38 TasmanSouthland vs Tasman Report
More ITM Cup results
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , September 14
Wasps 20 - 16 NorthamptonWasps vs Northampton Report
Newcastle 18 - 20 London IrishNewcastle vs London Irish Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Guinness PRO12
Cardiff Blues 12 - 33 GlasgowCardiff Blues vs Glasgow Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Top 14
Bordeaux-Begles 27 - 21 MontpellierBordeaux-Begles vs Montpellier Report
More Top 14 results
ITM Cup
Waikato 26 - 21 Counties ManukauWaikato vs Counties Manukau Report
Hawkes Bay 41 - 0 Otago
More ITM Cup results
Aviva Premiership
Saturday , September 13
Gloucester 34 - 27 Sale SharksGloucester vs Sale Sharks Report
Bath 53 - 26 London WelshBath vs London Welsh Report
Exeter 20 - 24 LeicesterExeter vs Leicester Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Rugby Championship
New Zealand 14 - 10 South AfricaNew Zealand vs South Africa Report
Australia 32 - 25 ArgentinaAustralia vs Argentina Report
More Rugby Championship results
Guinness PRO12
Leinster 42 - 12 ScarletsLeinster vs Scarlets Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Top 14
Toulouse 9 - 13 Clermont AuvergneToulouse vs Clermont Auvergne Report
Bayonne 23 - 6 Brive
Oyonnax 40 - 27 Grenoble
Racing Metro Paris 28 - 11 LyonRacing Metro Paris vs Lyon Report
Toulon 24 - 28 Stade FrancaisToulon vs Stade Francais Report
More Top 14 results
Currie Cup
Griquas 31 - 27 PumasGriquas vs Pumas Report
Lions 35 - 33 Western ProvinceLions vs Western Province Report
Cheetahs 30 - 30 SharksCheetahs vs Sharks Report
More Currie Cup results
ITM Cup
Bay Of Plenty 12 - 27 AucklandBay Of Plenty vs Auckland Report
Southland 36 - 34 Northland
More ITM Cup results
Aviva Premiership
Friday , September 12
Harlequins 0 - 39 SaracensHarlequins vs Saracens Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Guinness PRO12
Benetton Treviso 10 - 21 MunsterBenetton Treviso vs Munster Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Saracens29
2Bath29
3Leicester Tigers29
4Exeter26
5Northampton26