Saracens too strong for Worcester
November 30, 2008
Saracens scrum-half Neil de Kock looks for support
© Getty Images
Flying Fijian Kameli Ratuvou scored on his return from international duty to stop the rot at Saracens and inspire Eddie Jones' men to victory over resurgent Worcester.
The Pacific Islander crossed along with Glen Jackson to grab the hosts' first victory in three games and prevent Mike Ruddock's men making it three wins on the spin. Chris Pennell had dragged Worcester back into the game with two penalties as Jackson failed to find his aim.
But Sam Tuitupou's yellow card ended any hopes of a comeback as Saracens, coached in the week by World Cup winner Jake White, secured the win late on through Brad Barritt's first try for the club. Andy Farrell's early burst handed leading Premiership points-scorer Jackson the chance to kick at goal, but his penalty attempt drifted wide.
The New Zealander made amends on seven minutes when he slotted Saracens' first three points of the game after the visitors crept offside. The hosts kicked on and, after Pennell's long clearance was collected by Alex Goode, the fullback drove through the Worcester defence and sprayed the ball wide for returning winger Ratuvou to crash over.
Jackson dragged the conversion attempt wide and Dale Rasmussen almost provided an instant response for the visitors but the centre failed to keep his feet just five yards from the whitewash. Pennell did reduce the advantage after Saracens fell foul of the offside law, slotting home from in front of the posts on 21 minutes after fly-half Loki Crichton had been replaced by Joe Carlisle.
The 21-year-old full-back repeated the trick from almost halfway and slowly but surely Ruddock's men began to show the form that secured back-to-back wins against Sale and Newcastle. However, Tuitupou's yellow card for a late tackle on the impressive Goode five minutes before the break swung the momentum back to the hosts.
Jackson was again found wanting with the boot but the fly-half appeared as the extra man to collect Farrell's pass, cross in the corner and crush Worcester's revival. The Kiwi had missed four of his five kicks in the first half but rediscovered his aim two minutes into the second, comfortably slotting over from just right of the posts for three more Saracens points.
At the other end Pennell spurned the chance to reduce the deficit by sending his 58th-minute penalty wide. But South African signing Barritt raced away in the 73rd minute to score and secure the points.
Saracens boss Eddie Jones admitted he was looking to lure South Africa's World Cup-winning coach Jake White back to the club in the new year. White paid special attention to a defence that had leaked three tries in each of its last two games and Saracens were rewarded by conceding only two penalties to secure their first win in three matches.
And Jones, who is a close friend of the 2007 Webb Ellis trophy winner, revealed he had already set in motion a deal for White to return early in 2009.
"Jake is a top coach and a guy I've known a while and I'm confident of getting him back here in January or February," said Jones. "He came in and wanted us to change one or two things with our defence. He's a good guy to have as a consultant, I know Toulon have been calling him so I'll be interested to see if he goes there.
"He has already sent me five text messages asking 'who coached the defence this week?' so I know he'll be interested in doing it again. It was a very good performance from us and I'm really pleased with our whole team, I thought everybody contributed out there and it was important to get a win."
Worcester's director of rugby Ruddock insists his side must run a tighter ship if they are to return to the form which earned back-to-back wins over Sale and Newcastle.
"It was Christmas come early for Saracens in the first half," said Ruddock. "We let them off the hook by giving away silly penalties. It's something we talked about and we had planned to eradicate for this game after we conceded 17 penalties last week, but it hasn't happened.
"We got ourselves back into the game but then Sam's sin-bin meant we were chasing them and it turned out to be an eight-point penalty because they scored the try. It didn't help us, but we were in the game for 70 minutes and it was very frustrating not to capitalise on that.
"Indiscipline is something that has crept back into our game and we can't let it happen because it is very costly."
Saracens: Goode, Ratuvou, Powell, A. Farrell, Cato, Jackson, de Kock, Aguero, Ongaro, Visagie, Owen, Vyvyan, van Heerden, Saull, Skirving.
Replacements: Sorrell for Powell (64), Barritt for A. Farrell (69), Rauluni for de Kock (73), Kyriacou for Ongaro (76), Johnston for Visagie (51), Ryder for Owen (69), Chesney for Vyvyan (69).
Worcester: Pennell, Gear, Rasmussen, Tuitupou, Benjamin, Crichton, M. Powell, Mullan, Lutui, Tuamoepeau, Rawlinson, Gillies, Talei, Sanderson, Horstmann.
Replacements: Carlisle for Crichton (20), B. Jones for M. Powell (64), Horsman for Tuamoepeau (51), Bowley for Gillies (64), Cox for Talei (71). Not Used: Page, Grove.
Sin Bin: Tuitupou (34).
Ref: Sean Davey (RFU).
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