Saracens christen new surface with win
January 27, 2013
Bath's Dave Attwood tackles Exeter's Watisoni Votu © Getty Images
Saracens claimed a nervous 19-11 victory over Cardiff Blues in their first match at the Allianz Park in the Anglo-Welsh Cup clash on Sunday.
Sarries trailed 8-6 at half time after a Robin Copeland try and Ceri Sweeney penalty overshadowed two penalties from fly-half Nils Mordt.
Mordt stroked over a third penalty in the 49th minute to put the hosts in front and he nudged Sarries further ahead with another penalty mid-way through the half. Replacement Gareth Davies raised Cardiff's hopes with a penalty with eight minutes remaining that took them within a point of their opponents.
But with two minutes on the clock James Short touched down for Sarries and Mordt converted to confirm the victory in the first rugby union match between professional outfits on an artificial turf.
London Irish ran in five tries as they beat Worcester Warriors 46-24 to move top of Pool 3.
Winger Marland Yarde scored a hat-trick while Tongan prop Halani 'Aulika crossed twice and former England under-20 No.8 Alex Gray also touched down for the hosts. Fullback Tom Homer landed two penalties and five conversions in a 14-point individual haul.
Worcester, who trailed 22-3 at half-time, fought hard in the second half and scored tries through David Lemi, Danny Gray and James Percival with Gray landing a penalty and conversion and Andy Goode slotting the other two conversions.
But the visitors had left themselves too much to do as they slumped to their second defeat of the competition while Irish rose to top spot in Pool 3 thanks to their second win in three games.
Danny Cipriani claimed a 21-point haul as relegation-threatened Sale put their dismal Premiership form behind them with a 36-7 victory over a severely understrength Scarlets in their Anglo-Welsh Cup clash at Salford City Stadium on Saturday.
The fly-half scored a second-half try and kicked 16 points as Steve Diamond's men kept alive their hopes of reaching the knockout stages of the tournament. Sale have endured a bitterly disappointing Aviva Premiership campaign and lie bottom of the table after 13 games.
But they ultimately had too much power for their Welsh visitors as tries from Richie Vernon, Charlie Amesbury, Cipriani and replacement Charlie Ingall secured the win and took them top of Pool 2 ahead of their final clash with Wasps next weekend. Diamond commented: "Danny is a good player. Give home go-forward ball, as the pack did today, and he shows his class."
Defending champions and pool rivals Leicester kept their hopes alive with a five-try 34-8 victory over London Wasps at Welford Road. The win puts Leicester, who started the day second bottom of Pool 2, on nine points and still in the hunt with just one match left. They go away to Llanelli Scarlets next week, aiming to top the group and reach the semi-finals.
Leicester's tries came through Logovi'i Mulipola, Michael Noone, Mathew Tait and Vereniki Goneva, who crossed twice, with Dan Bowden kicking a conversion and a penalty and Matt Cornwell two conversions. Wasps, who have not won at Leicester since 2008, were outplayed for most of the game and scored a consolation try through replacement Hugo Southwell near the end to add to a penalty from Tommy Bell.
Elsewhere, Peter Stringer came off the bench to score twice on his debut as Bath beat Exeter Chiefs 16-6 at The Rec. The former Ireland international, who joined Bath on a short-term deal on Monday, struck twice in the final 24 minutes to secure their second win in the competition. The two teams had been locked at 6-6 heading towards the final quarter after two penalties apiece from Bath's Tom Heathcote and Exeter's Henry Slade.
"I still have that ambition and drive to play at the highest level," said Stringer, who crossed twice in the space of five second-half minutes to turn the game in the hosts' favour. "That's one of the reasons I was looking to come on loan somewhere and thankfully Bath came up with that opportunity and that's all I want to do - play and compete.
But it is Northampton who head Pool 4 after they ended a three-game Franklin's Gardens try-drought with a 26-7 victory over Gloucester. Saints had not scored a try in front of their own fans since November 24 but Luther Burrell and Alex Waller touched down in either half to end that barren spell and earn their side the victory. Northampton can now secure a place in the semi-finals with victory in their final pool game at Exeter.
Harlequins went to the top of Pool 1 with a flattering 23-6 victory over a battling London Welsh side in a scrappy match at The Stoop. Quins now face Ospreys at Bridgend next Sunday in their final group fixture when a draw would be sufficient to see them through to the semi-finals.
For Welsh it was their third consecutive defeat in the tournament which leaves them bottom of the pool without a single point. The game was very poor despite both teams trying to run the ball at every opportunity. At times it resembled a sevens match as both were guilty of regularly turning over possession. There were far too much handling errors as neither side could bring any continuity to their play. The home side dominated the set scrum as the Welsh retreated at every engagement but in the loose the visitors were the masters and their hard-working pack were very unlucky to come away with no reward.
In the day's other game, Dragons beat Welsh rivals Ospreys 18-14 at Rodney Parade. Fly-half Steffan Jones landed six penalties for the Dragons as the Ospreys saw their chances of reaching the latter stages take a big knock.
Man of the match Jones booted the Dragons to their first win in the competition this season although the feisty match only came to life in the final quarter after Ospreys flanker Jonathan Thomas scored the only try of the evening. Matthew Morgan kicked three penalties for the visitors but they were not helped by having to play 20 minutes of the match with 14 men through two sin-bins against one for the Dragons.
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