Planet Rugby

Saracens control the champs

03rd October 2010 18:23

Share:

Schalk Brits saracens leicester oct 2010

Impressive once again: Schalk Brits

Saracens racked up an impressive 26-20 victory over Leicester in a rematch of last season's Aviva Premiership final on Sunday.

Saracens are still hurting from losing the Premiership title to Leicester in the dying embers of a wonderful play-off final in May but fly-half Derick Hougaard kicked sixteen points as Saracens avenged their Twickenham misery.

Yet they nearly threw it away again, scorning a simple three points when leading 26-10 and eventually hanging on to see off the champions.

While the home team fielded many of their big guns, including former England captain Steve Borthwick, Leicester were forced to change their shape to cope with a combination of injuries, not least to fly-halves Toby Flood and Jeremy Staunton, and enforced resting of Elite Player Squad members Ben Youngs and George Chuter.

After 18 hours of heavy rain, and another morning downpour, there were fears the Vicarage Road pitch would be affected, but Saracens kicked off without rain or surface water.

Within minutes Leicester won a penalty after Saracens wheeled a reset scrum under pressure, which Billy Twelvetrees punted into touch. But Leicester then conceded a penalty at the line-out as French referee Romain Poite stamped his authority on matters early.

Saracens butchered a scoring opportunity on 10 minutes when David Strettle touched down on the right only for the referee to signal a forward pass during the build-up.

But it was the home team calling the shots, and fly-half Hougaard was only narrowly off target with a 50-yard drop-goal.

Leicester finally got themselves some good ball and were into the home 22 before Saracens could re-group. But a moment's hesitation by James Grindal led to the attack being shunted sideways and then smothered.

Hougaard had another shot at goal in the 20th minute, a penalty from close to halfway, and that too had the distance but faded off target.

Strettle was troubling the Leicester defence, and a fine run past three tacklers led to a powerful home attack and a fine try in the 23rd minute.

Chris Wyles escaped an attempted tackle by Matt Smith and surged up the right channel. His pass right found prolific hooker Schalk Brits thundering up the wing, and he duly scored behind the posts, making Hougaard's conversion uncomplicated.

That was Brits' third try in three starts, continuing the remarkable scoring knack he demonstrated last season.

It was no more than Saracens deserved, and Leicester were already showing signs of minor panic under pressure, gifting Hougaard another long-range shot at goal from 55 yards. This time it sailed between the posts.

Leicester had a decent chance after 32 minutes, but Tom Croft fumbled Smith's pass.

But Leicester camped in the Saracens 22 for the first time in the game, earning successive penalties, both chosen as scrums. The referee warned both captains after some twisting and turning, and when the third scrum also imploded, Deon Carstens was sin-binned in the 36th minute.

When a fifth scrum was turned, Jacques Burger was adjudged to have dived on the ball in an offside position and Leicester were awarded a penalty try, converted by Twelvetrees.

Saracens were determined to end the half on top, and when Brits again drove into the heart of the defence after 39 minutes, Richard Wigglesworth snatched a close-range pass and raced up the left to score, Hougaard converting.

Twelvetrees cut the deficit two minutes into the second half but Hougaard restored the 10-point margin three minutes after that, and increased it with another splendid kick after 51 minutes.

He gave Leicester a mountain to climb with a soaring drop-goal in the 55th minute, followed closely by a yellow card for Smith for ball-killing.

Twelvetrees kept Leicester in touch with a penalty on 64 minutes, but within two minutes, they visitors lost Ed Slater to a yellow card for a deliberate knock-on.

Yet Leicester fought back to grab an unexpected try after 69 minutes when full-back Lucas Amorosino kicked ahead up the left and beat everyone to score. Twelvetrees converted to set up a nail-biting finale.

Hougaard missed two late penalties, which could have calmed the nerves, but Saracens held on.

The scorers:

For Saracens:
Tries: Brits, Wigglesworth
Cons: Hougaard 2
Pens: Hougaard 3
Drop: Hougaard

For Leicester:
Tries: Penalty try, Amorosino
Cons: Twelvetrees 2
Pens: Twelvetrees 2

Yellow cards: Carstens (Saracens - 35th min - illegal scrummaging); Agulla (Leicester - 56th min - repeated ruck infringement); Slater (Leicester - 65th min - intentional knock-down)

Saracens: 15 Chris Wyles, 14 David Strettle, 13 Kameli Ratuvou, 12 Nils Mordt, 11 Michael Tagicakibau, 10 Derick Hougaard, 9 Richard Wigglesworth, 8 Ernst Joubert, 7 Jacques Burger, 6 Kelly Brown, 5 Hugh Vyvyan, 4 Steve Borthwick (capt), 3 Petrus du Plessis, 2 Schalk Brits, 1 Deon Carstens.
Replacements: 16 Jamie George, 17 Matt Parr, 18 Carlos Nieto, 19 Mouritz Botha, 20 Andy Saull, 21 Neil de Kock, 22 Brad Barritt, 23 Adam Powell.

Leicester: 15 Lucas Amorosino, 14 Scott Hamilton, 13 Dan Hipkiss, 12 Matt Smith, 11 Horacio Agulla, 10 Billy Twelvetrees, 9 James Grindal, 8 Ben Pienaar, 7 Craig Newby, 6 Tom Croft (capt), 5 George Skivington, 4 Ed Slater, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Rob Hawkins, 1 Boris Stankovich.
Replacements: 16 Joe Duffey, 17 Martin Castrogiovanni, 18 Julian White, 19 Steve Mafi, 20 Ben Woods, 21 Sam Harrison, 22 George Ford, 23 Lee Robinson.

Venue: Vicarage Road
Referee: Romain Poite (France)
Assistant referees: Paul Dix, Peter Huckle
Television match official: Graham Hughes
Assessor: Steve Lander

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Friday , April 18
Harlequins vs Leicester19:45
Saturday , April 19
Exeter vs Sale15:00
Bath vs Worcester15:00
Wasps vs Gloucester15:15
Sunday , April 20
Northampton vs London Irish14:00
Newcastle vs Saracens15:00
More Aviva Premiership fixtures
RaboDirect PRO12
Friday , April 18
Leinster vs Benetton Treviso17:00
Glasgow vs Ulster19:35
Saturday , April 19
Zebre vs Edinburgh14:30
Connacht vs Munster18:15
Sunday , April 20
Cardiff Blues vs Scarlets14:00
Newport Gwent D'gons vs Ospreys16:45
More RaboDirect PRO12 fixtures
Top 14
Friday , April 18
Castres vs Montpellier20:45
Saturday , April 19
Oyonnax vs Toulouse14:55
Perpignan vs Toulon17:00
Grenoble vs Bayonne18:30
Biarritz vs Brive18:30
Racing Metro Paris vs Clermont Auvergne18:30
Stade Francais vs Bordeaux-Begles20:35
More Top 14 fixtures
Super Rugby
Friday , April 18
Hurricanes vs Blues19:35
Melbourne Rebels vs Western Force19:40
Saturday , April 19
Chiefs vs Crusaders19:35
Waratahs vs Bulls19:00
Sharks vs Cheetahs15:00
Stormers vs Lions17:05
More Super Rugby fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , April 13
Saracens 28 - 24 NorthamptonSaracens vs Northampton Report
London Irish 40 - 12 NewcastleLondon Irish vs Newcastle Report
Saturday , April 12
Worcester 33 - 38 ExeterWorcester vs Exeter Report
Leicester 27 - 15 WaspsLeicester vs Wasps Report
Gloucester 17 - 18 BathGloucester vs Bath Report
More Aviva Premiership results
RaboDirect PRO12
Benetton Treviso 45 - 27 Newport Gwent D'gonsBenetton Treviso vs Newport Gwent D
Scarlets 27 - 20 ZebreScarlets vs Zebre Report
Munster 5 - 22 GlasgowMunster vs Glasgow Report
More RaboDirect PRO12 results
Top 14
Bordeaux-Begles 20 - 22 ToulonBordeaux-Begles vs Toulon Report
Toulouse 16 - 9 BriveToulouse vs Brive Report
Grenoble 30 - 36 Montpellier
Perpignan 22 - 12 Oyonnax
Bayonne 24 - 19 Stade Francais
Racing Metro Paris 37 - 7 Biarritz
More Top 14 results
Super Rugby
Chiefs 22 - 16 Melbourne RebelsChiefs vs Melbourne Rebels Report
Western Force 28 - 16 WaratahsWestern Force vs Waratahs Report
Lions 12 - 25 SharksLions vs Sharks Report
Cheetahs 31 - 52 CrusadersCheetahs vs Crusaders Report
More Super Rugby results
Aviva Premiership
Friday , April 11
Sale Sharks 12 - 27 HarlequinsSale Sharks vs Harlequins Report
More Aviva Premiership results
RaboDirect PRO12
Ulster 58 - 12 ConnachtUlster vs Connacht Report
Edinburgh 22 - 29 Cardiff BluesEdinburgh vs Cardiff Blues Report
Ospreys 25 - 19 LeinsterOspreys vs Leinster Report
More RaboDirect PRO12 results
Top 14
Clermont Auvergne 23 - 11 CastresClermont Auvergne vs Castres Report
More Top 14 results
Super Rugby
Highlanders 27 - 20 BullsHighlanders vs Bulls Report
Reds 20 - 23 BrumbiesReds vs Brumbies Report
More Super Rugby results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Saracens1976
2Northampton1966
3Leicester Tigers1963
4Bath1959
5Harlequins1954