Strettle hat-trick enough for Sarries

Date published: September 7 2014

David Strettle scored a fantastic hat-trick as Saracens edged past Wasps 34-28 in the first game of the London Double Header.

David Strettle scored a fantastic hat-trick as Saracens edged past Wasps 34-28 in the first game of the London Double Header.

Strettle's last-minute try, which also completed his treble, was enough to win, despite Wasps battling back from an 11-point half-time deficit to lead for much of the second half.

Wasps will take heart from running the bookies' favourites all the way, but suffered opening-day heartbreak for the second year in a row.

Mark McCall's men returned to HQ with the defeat against Northampton still fresh in the memory, but Chris Ashton did his part in showing there was no hangover from that game, taking in a Charlie Hodgson grubber kick to score inside ten minutes.

Andy Goode also had good reason to dread a return to Twickenham, with his last-minute conversion miss costing Wasps an opening day win against Harlequins this time last year.

He steadied himself to slot the opening penalty of the game.

After a couple more penalties had been traded, Sarries showed their counter-attacking menace with a length of the field try. Richard Wigglesworth's box kick just stayed in touch, Strettle hunted down Rob Miller brilliantly, and brushed of the Wasps' debutant to touch down.

A lead of 20-9 hardly flattered Saracens at the break, as they showed their clinical side in the first 40 minutes.

Whatever Dai Young said at half time seemed to have a big effect on his troops. Joe Simpson ran nearly half the length of the field, only to be dragged down 10 metres out.

The momentum was still with Wasps though, and Will Hughes charged over for their first try of the afternoon.

Sensation followed soon after. The team who were trailing for much of the game unbelievably hit the lead thanks to the brilliance of Christian Wade.

Wasps' tricky winger took in a Goode chip, just touching down before his knee went into touch to give his side 20-21 lead.

He was at it again soon after. Flanker Ashley Johnson isn't known for his kicking game, but his dab in behind sent Wade in for his second.

Saracens, trailing by eight, looked shell-shocked. They showed their class, though, with substitute Owen Farrell putting one on a plate for Strettle, who helped Farrell's conversion attempt by getting as close to the posts as possible after crossing the line.

Five minutes from time, a Farrell penalty from range went agonisingly close to putting Sarries back in front, with the ball just evading the posts.

Wasps breathed a sigh of relief. Strettle's winner in the left-hand corner was viewed several times by the TMO, who finally agreed that the Sarries man had got the ball down and settle a pulsating encounter.

The scorers:

For Saracens:

Tries: Ashton, Strettle 3
Conversions: Hodgson 2, Farrell 2
Penalties: Hodgson 2
Yellow card: Brown

For Wasps:
Tries: Hughes, Wade 2
Conversions: Goode 2
Penalties: Goode 3

The teams:

Saracens: 15 Alex Goode, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Duncan Taylor, 12 Brad Barritt, 11 David Strettle, 10 Charlie Hodgson, 9 Richard Wigglesworth, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Will Fraser, 6 Kelly Brown, 5 Al Hargeaves (c), 4 George Kruis, 3 Kieran Longbottom, 2 Jamie George, 1 Richard Barrington
Replacements: 16 Scott Spurling, 17 Rhys Gill, 18 Petrus Du Plessis, 19 Jim Hamilton, 20 Jackson Wray, 21 Ben Spencer, 22 Owen Farrell, 23 Tim Streather.

Wasps: 15 Rob Miller, 14 Christian Wade, 13 Elliot Daly, 12 Chris Bell, 11 Sailosi Tagicakibau, 10 Andy Goode, 9 Joe Simpson, 8 Will Hughes, 7 James Haskell (c), 6 Ashley Johnson, 5 James Gaskell, 4 Joe Launchbury, 3 Lorenzo Cittadini, 2 Carlo Festuccia, 1 Matt Mullan
Replacements: 16 Tom Lindsay, 17 John Yapp , 18 Phil Swainston, 19 Kearnan Myall, 20 Guy Thompson, 21 Charlie Davies, 22 Ruaridh Jackson, 23 Andrea Masi

Referee: Andrew Small
Assistant Referees: Gareth Copsey, Peter Huckle
TMO: David Sainsbury