Planet Rugby

Saracens move clear at the top

03rd March 2013 16:08

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Will Fraser of Saracens scores a try v London Welsh

Try for Saracens: Will Fraser

Saracens moved four points clear of Harlequins at the top of the Premiership standings on Sunday thanks to a 35-14 bonus-point win over London Welsh at Allianz Park.

But it was far from a convincing performance as the former champions were made to work very hard by relegation-threatened Welsh.

A penalty try and three Charlie Hodgson penalties gave Sarries a 16-11 half-time lead, with Welsh's response coming through debutant Seb Stegmann's touchdown and six points from the boot of Gavin Henson.

But scores from Joel Tomkins, Will Fraser and David Strettle took the hosts clear after the break.

With and RFU hearing looming for Exiles on Tuesday, the visitors looked distracted early on with Tyson Keats, the player at the centre of the eligibility storm, making the mistake for Sarries' first score.

The scrum-half's box-kick was charged down by Alistair Hargreaves and he conceded a penalty at the resultant ruck, which the home side's fly-half duly converted.

But to their credit, Welsh stuck to their task and restricted the hosts to another Hodgson three-pointer in the first quarter.

Welsh were rewarded for their endeavour, though, when Stegmann finished off a fine move to reduce the deficit to 6-5.

However, Phil Mackenzie was sin-binned for the visitors two minutes later and Mark McCall's men reasserted their authority.

A driving maul ended in a penalty try after Tom Bristow collapsed it. Bristow received a yellow card for the indiscretion, but the Exiles, down to 13-men, once again dug in.

Although Hodgson added a third penalty, two Henson three-pointers took the score to 16-11 at the interval.

Saracens upped the intensity in the second period and Tomkins powered over to extend the advantage to 23-11.

The visiting fly-half did eat into that lead, but Fraser's try - after an offload from - Schalk Brits effectively ended Welsh's resistance.

Strettle continued to push for an England recall by sealing a bonus point win for Saracens with jinking run to score late on.

The scorers:

For Saracens:
Tries: Penalty try, Tomkins, Fraser, Strettle
Cons: Hodgson 3
Pens: Hodgson 3

For London Welsh:
Try: Stegmann
Pens: Henson 2
Drop: Henson
Yellow cards: MacKenzie; Bristow

The teams:

Saracens: 15 Chris Wyles, 14 James Short, 13 Joel Tomkins, 12 Duncan Taylor, 11 David Strettle, 10 Charlie Hodgson, 9 Richard Wigglesworth, 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 Nick Auterac, 18 Petrus du Plessis, 19 Mouritz Botha, 20 Andy Saull, 21 Neil de Kock, 22 Nils Mordt, 23 Ben Ransom.

London Welsh: 15 Tom Arscott, 14 Phil MacKenzie, 13 Sonny Parker, 12 Seb Jewell, 11 Seb Stegmann, 10 Gavin Henson, 9 Tyson Keats, 8 Alfie To'oala, 7 Michael Hills, 6 Julio Cabello Farias, 5 Kirill Kulemin, 4 Jonathan Mills (c), 3 James Tideswell, 2 Greg Bateman, 1 Tom Bristow.
Replacements: 16 Dan George, 17 Billy Moss, 18 Paulica Ion, 19. Matt Corker, 20 Daniel Browne, 21 Alex Davies, 22 Gordon Ross, 23 Tom Voyce.

Venue: Allianz Park
Referee: Luke Pearce
Assistant referees: Kevin Stewart, Andrew Watson
Television match official: David Grashoff

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