Planet Rugby

Saracens grind past Exiles

09th January 2011 16:53

Share:

Brad Barritt saracens london irish

No room to move: Brad Barritt

Four penalties from fly-half Owen Farrell were enough to see Saracens grind out a try-less 12-6 win over London Irish on Saturday.

Saracens maintained their pressure on the Aviva Premiership leaders as they inflicted a tenth-straight defeat on struggling Exiles at Vicarage Road.

Far from a classic, this grinding London derby encounter was decided by the boot, with young fly-half Farrell kicking all of Sarries points and Chris Malone responding with two penalties of his own for the Exiles.

The win keeps Sarries in third place, ten points behind leaders Leicester, but Irish, without a win since October 31, are now down to seventh with their hopes of a play-off place fading fast.

Saracens rugby director Brendan Venter was in charge for the last time before returning to South Africa with his family, and his team began as if determined to give him a winning send-off.

Their pressure forced Irish to concede a seventh-minute penalty, but Farrell's kick struck the inside of the near post and rebounded clear. When presented with the chance to make amends four minutes later, the fly-half managed to strike the opposite post.

But it wasn't long before Saracens were back in the Irish half, earning a third opportunity for Farrell, and this time his penalty attempt flew straight between the sticks to give the hosts a 22nd-minute lead.

In their first effective attack Irish put Saracens under pressure at a scrum, and earned a penalty for offside which Malone kicked on 28 minutes.

Saracens found themselves behind five minutes later when Malone kicked his second goal following a ruck offence, but the hosts surged upfield and levelled three minutes before the break with Farrell's second successful kick, awarded for offside.

Referee David Rose ended a very ordinary half by awarding Irish a penalty when Carlos Nieto entered a ruck from the side, but Malone's kick cannoned off an upright and wide.

Irish made the more positive start to the second half, pinning Saracens in their own half, but they wasted a potential scoring situation in front of the posts with first a knock-on and then a penalty conceded at the scrum.

With both defences strung across the pitch, breaking the gainline was difficult in the face of very resolute tackling, and time and again deep kicks were used in an attempt to pin opponents back.

Tempers flared in the 55th minute, and when Rose had calmed things down, it was Irish who benefited. But Malone's penalty sailed wide.

When Saracens finally returned to the Irish 22, a sustained attack was halted illegally and Farrell made no mistake with his third penalty on 65 minutes.

It was difficult to separate the teams as they repeatedly snuffed out each other's attacks, but the customary rash of replacements in the final quarter did create a bit more room.

Irish then put Malone under pressure with a pass that Saracens read and hunted down. The full-back was penalised for not releasing, and Farrell hammered home his fourth penalty, this one from 40 metres.

Saracens appeared to be finishing the stronger, although they could not break down the Irish defence.

Just when the game seemed secured, Irish managed to battle their way into the home 22 with a penalty kick to touch for a lineout three minutes from time.

But the home defence stood firm, and after a succession of drives, Irish lost possession.

The scorers:

For Saracens:
Pens: Farrell 4

For London Irish:
Pens: Malone 2

Saracens: 15 Alex Goode, 14 David Strettle, 13 Michael Tagicakibau, 12 Brad Barritt, 11 James Short, 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Richard Wigglesworth, 8 Kelly Brown, 7 Andy Saull, 6 Jacques Burger, 5 Mouritz Botha, 4 Steve Borthwick (capt), 3 Carlos Nieto, 2 Schalk Brits, 1 Deon Carstens.
Replacements: 16 Jamie George, 17 Rhys Gill, 18 Petrus du Plessis, 19 Hugh Vyvyan, 20 Ernst Joubert, 21 Kevin Barrett, 22 Gavin Henson, 23 Ben Ransom.

London Irish: 15 Chris Malone, 14 Topsy Ojo, 13 Elvis Seveali'i, 12 Seilala Mapusua, 11 Sailosi Tagicakibau, 10 Dan Bowden, 9 Paul Hodgson (capt), 8 George Stowers, 7 Steffon Armitage, 6 Richard Thorpe, 5 Matt Garvey, 4 Nick Kennedy, 3 Faan Rautenbach, 2 James Buckland, 1 Alex Corbisiero.
Replacements: 16 Brian Blaney, 17 Clarke Dermody, 18 Paulica Ion, 19 Bob Casey, 20 Chris Hala'ufia, 21 Adam Thompstone, 22 Ryan Lamb, 23 Darren Allinson.

Venue: Vicarage Road
Referee: David Rose

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Friday , September 26
London Welsh vs Gloucester19:45
Saturday , September 27
Saracens vs Sale15:00
Leicester vs London Irish15:00
Northampton vs Bath15:15
Sunday , September 28
Exeter vs Harlequins14:00
Wasps vs Newcastle14:00
More Aviva Premiership fixtures
Rugby Championship
Saturday , September 27
South Africa vs Australia16:05
Argentina vs New Zealand23:10
More Rugby Championship fixtures
Guinness PRO12
Friday , September 26
Edinburgh vs Scarlets19:35
Leinster vs Cardiff Blues19:35
Glasgow vs Connacht19:35
Saturday , September 27
Zebre vs Ulster15:00
Munster vs Ospreys18:30
Sunday , September 28
Newport Gwent D'gons vs Benetton Treviso16:00
More Guinness PRO12 fixtures
Top 14
Saturday , September 27
Toulon vs Montpellier18:00
Stade Francais vs La Rochelle18:00
Bayonne vs Toulouse18:00
Brive vs Bordeaux-Begles18:00
Oyonnax vs Clermont Auvergne18:00
Lyon vs Castres18:00
Grenoble vs Racing Metro Paris18:00
More Top 14 fixtures
Currie Cup
Friday , September 26
Cheetahs vs Blue Bulls19:10
Saturday , September 27
Sharks vs Eastern Province Kings14:00
Pumas vs Western Province15:00
Griquas vs Lions15:00
More Currie Cup fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , September 21
Newcastle 10 - 35 NorthamptonNewcastle vs Northampton Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Guinness PRO12
Ospreys 62 - 13 EdinburghOspreys vs Edinburgh Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
ITM Cup
Otago 38 - 7 WaikatoOtago vs Waikato Report
Wellington 20 - 42 TasmanWellington vs Tasman Report
More ITM Cup results
Aviva Premiership
Saturday , September 20
Sale 46 - 8 London WelshSale vs London Welsh Report
Harlequins 26 - 23 WaspsHarlequins vs Wasps Report
London Irish 32 - 36 SaracensLondon Irish vs Saracens Report
Bath 45 - 0 LeicesterBath vs Leicester Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Guinness PRO12
Newport Gwent D'gons 13 - 33 GlasgowNewport Gwent D
Scarlets 43 - 0 Benetton TrevisoScarlets vs Benetton Treviso Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Top 14
Racing Metro Paris 27 - 16 ToulouseRacing Metro Paris vs Toulouse Report
Grenoble 24 - 15 Bayonne
Montpellier 23 - 3 Stade FrancaisMontpellier vs Stade Francais Report
La Rochelle 26 - 29 Bordeaux-Begles
Clermont Auvergne 43 - 12 LyonClermont Auvergne vs Lyon Report
Castres 27 - 18 Oyonnax
More Top 14 results
Currie Cup
Western Province 36 - 12 GriquasWestern Province vs Griquas Report
Blue Bulls 15 - 26 SharksBlue Bulls vs Sharks Report
Eastern Province Kings 22 - 37 CheetahsEastern Province Kings vs Cheetahs Report
More Currie Cup results
ITM Cup
Hawkes Bay 36 - 17 Bay Of Plenty
Manawatu 36 - 17 Southland
Auckland 32 - 7 North HarbourAuckland vs North Harbour Report
More ITM Cup results
Aviva Premiership
Friday , September 19
Gloucester 22 - 25 ExeterGloucester vs Exeter Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Guinness PRO12
Munster 31 - 5 ZebreMunster vs Zebre Report
Cardiff Blues 9 - 26 UlsterCardiff Blues vs Ulster Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Bath314
2Saracens313
3Northampton311
4Exeter310
5Leicester Tigers39