Planet Rugby

Wembley win for Saracens

26th December 2010 18:06

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Gavin Henson Saracens v Wasps 2010

Gavin Henson: Returned to action

Saracens ended Wasps' six-game winning run with a 13-6 Aviva Premiership victory over their London rivals in their Boxing Day clash at Wembley.

An uneventful first half saw Saracens in control at the scrum and the lineout while Wasps kept on top in the loose, as they successfully targeted young fly-half Owen Farrell.

But the game burst into life after the break with a try from Saracens' replacement flanker Andy Saull and almost the perfect return to rugby for debutant Gavin Henson.

Farrell set the tone for the opening period when he sent a 38-metre penalty attempt wide of the uprights after just two minutes.

And nine minutes later the young fly-half missed a drop goal attempt following a period of sustained pressure inside the Wasps 22.

Another ten minutes brought another missed kick, this time though, it was Farrell's opposite number, Dave Walder, who hooked a relatively straightforward penalty wide from almost in front of the uprights.

The first points finally came with just five first-half minutes left on the clock, Wasps getting caught offside following some good work by the Sarries pack.

Farrell slotted over the easy penalty to give his side a slender 3-0 advantage.

But the 19-year-old failed to extend his side's lead with just a minute to go in the opening half when he sent his kick wide, taking his tally to three misses.

It was a completely different story after the restart, however, and within six minutes Saull had crossed for a classy try created by scrum half Neil de Kock.

De Kock spotted a small gap and whipped round the left side of the breakdown and drew his man area before delivering a neat flick to put Saull in the clear less than 10 metres out.

The flanker, who had come on for Kelly Brown at the interval, was caught with a tap tackle just short of the line but managed to scramble his way over for a try that Farrell converted to make it 10-0.

Henson entered the fray just before the hour mark to make his first appearance in a competitive game for 21 months.

And within a minute the Wales international came agonisingly close to celebrating his comeback in sensational style.

After Sarries caught the Wasps defence napping, Henson, brought on at outside centre, collected a quick pass and charged over close to the sticks.

The only problem was that Wasps' Joe Simpson had managed to dive in underneath and after viewing several replays, the tv official confirmed the ball had been held, denying Henson a dream start to his Sarries career.

Walder clawed three back for the 'away' team on 56 minutes, and 90 seconds later he took Wasps to within four points with another well struck penalty.

A magnificent break upfield by Schalk Brits took Saracens within yards of the line and into an almost certain try-scoring position.

But Wasps were handed a lucky escape by the referee and were fortunate not to find themselves a man down when they were caught offside in front of goal.

Sarries were forced to settle for the three points instead, restoring their advantage and take the scores to 13-6.

Wasps continued to push their opponents but were let down by too many errors, especially at the line-out, as they lost three attacking throws in the last ten minutes.

The win moves Saracens into second place in the Premiership, while Wasps had to make do with a losing bonus point. They can only have themselves and their frailties at the set piece to blame for the defeat.

The scorers:

For Saracens:
Try: Saull
Con: O Farrell
Pens: O Farrell 2

For London Wasps:
Pens: Walder 2

Saracens: 15 Chris Wyles, 14 David Strettle, 13 Michael Tagicakibau, 12 Brad Barritt, 11 James Short, 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Neil de Kock, 8 Ernst Joubert,7 Jacques Burger, 6 Kelly Brown, 5 Hugh Vyvyan, 4 Steve Borthwick (c), 3 Carlos Nieto, 2 Schalk Brits, 1 Deon Carstens.

Replacements: 16 Jamie George, 17 Rhys Gill, 18 Petrus du Plessis, 19 Hayden Smith, 20 Andy Saull, 21 Richard Wigglesworth, 22 Gavin Henson, 23 Alex Goode.

Wasps: 15 Mark van Gisbergen, 14 Tom Varndell, 13 Ben Jacobs (c), 12 Steve Kefu, 11 David Lemi, 10 Dave Walder, 9 Joe Simpson, 8 Andy Powell, 7 Serge Betsen, 6 Joe Worsley, 5 James Cannon, 4 Simon Shaw, 3 Ben Broster, 2 Joe Ward, 1 Zak Taulafo.
Replacements: 16 Tom Lindsay, 17 Tim Payne, 18 Bob Baker, 19 Marty Veale, 20 Will Matthews, 21 Nic Berry, 22 Riki Flutey, 23 Richard Haughton.

Referee: Eric Wigglesworth

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