Planet Rugby

Hodgson leads Sarries comeback

14th April 2012 16:48

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Chris Wyles Saracens London Irish

Testing the Exiles defence: Chris Wyles

Charlie Hodgson kicked two drop goals as Saracens came from behind to beat London Irish 28-19 at Madejski Stadium on Saturday.

Saracens didn't get out of first gear but were able to rely on Hodgson's boot to kick them to victory.

The Premiership's top points-scorer of all time and its top scorer this season, Hodgson and Tom Homer, perhaps unsurprisingly dominated the scoring early on with Homer kicking nine points to Hodgson's six.

The first half never really got going with Delon Armitage, who is off to Toulon next season, providing a rare moment of inspiration to break down the right wing for a try just before the half-hour mark.

Irish probably deserved their eight-point lead at that stage but Sarries showed why they have been at the top end of the table all season, going into the half-time interval just two points adrift despite a relatively poor display thanks to two more Hodgson penalties.

And when Jamie Gibson was sinbinned ten minutes into the second half, Saracens took full advantage of the extra man with yet another Hodgson penalty and a pushover try for Will Fraser after a long drive from the pack.

London Irish clung onto their coattails though and after Gibson returned, he combined with Bryn Evans to set up Armitage for his second try of the match to reduce the home side's arrears to just three points.

After Hodgson had edged Sarries further in front with his seventh successful kick of the afternoon, Fraser was yellow-carded for a poor tackle on Homer to give Irish a chance of pulling off a shock victory.

But, although they did have a number of opportunities, they were unable to grab the converted try they needed. Instead, the Saracens defence stood firm and that man Hodgson sealed the victory with a drop goal in the final minutes.

The scorers:

For London Irish:
Try: Armitage 2
Pens: Homer 3

For Saracens:
Try: Fraser
Con: Hodgson
Pens: Hodgson 5
Drops: Hodgson 2

Yellow cards: Gibson (London Irish - 52nd min); Fraser (Saracens - 71st min)

London Irish: 15 Tom Homer 14 Delon Armitage, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Joe Ansbro, 11 Sailosi Tagicakibau, 10 Adrian Jarvis, 9 Darren Allinson, 8 Ofisa Treviranus, 7 Richard Thorpe, 6 Jamie Gibson , 5 Matt Garvey, 4 Bryn Evans , 3 Faan Rautenbach, 2 David Paice, 1 Alex Corbisiero (c).
Replacements: 16 James Buckland 17 Max Lahiff 18 Leo Halavatau 19 Jebb Sinclair 20 Alex Gray 21 Topsy Ojo 22 Steve Shingler 23 Ross Samson

Saracens: 15 Alex Goode, 14 David Strettle, 13 Chris Wyles, 12 Brad Barritt, 11 Michael Tagicakibau, 10 Charlie Hodgson, 9 Neil de Kock, 8 Ernst Joubert, 7 Will Fraser, 6 Jackson Wray, 5 George Kruis, 4 Steve Borthwick (c), 3 Matt Stevens, 2 Schalk Brits, 1 Rhys Gill.
Replacements: 16 Jamie George, 17 Mako Vunipola, 18 Carlos Nieto, 19 Mouritz Botha, 20 Justin Melck, 21 Richard Wigglesworth, 22 Adam Powell, 23 Joel Tomkins.

Venue: Madejski Stadium
Referee: Martin Fox

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