J.P. Morgan Premiership Rugby Sevens Series
Saracens clinch Sevens glory
August 6, 2010
Saracens celebrate clinching the Premiership Rugby 7s crown following their victory over Newcastle at The Rec © Getty Images
Saracens clinched the inaugural J.P. Morgan Premiership Rugby Sevens Series title with a 17-5 victory over Newcastle in the tournament finale at The Rec in Bath.
Two tries from captain Kevin Barrett and another from George Kruis saw Sarries claim the first silverware of the season that will go some way to erasing the memory of their narrow defeat at the hands of Leicester in the Premiership Final in May.
Saracens made an explosive start to the final with the industrious Barrett bursting through in the opening seconds for a try that was converted by Nils Mordt. Excellent defence blunted much of the attacking endeavour that both sides could conjure with the demands of a pulsating night of 7s action taking their toll in terms of intensity. But a rare lapse in the Saracens rearguard allowed Chris Pilgrim to drag his side back into the contest just before half-time.
Saracens responded with another try from George Kruis as the game reached its conclusion with the flanker benefitting from some tired tackles. Trailing by a converted score with the clock running down, the Falcons raised their game in the hope of conjuring a late turnaround but a crucial turnover found its way to the ever-impressive Barrett who put the result beyond doubt with his second try.
Pre-tournament favourites Saracens booked their place in the final by seeing off the challenge of Sale and Northampton in Pool A - with the hard-fought and somewhat ill-tempered victory over the Saints a pivotal result on a night when there was no doubt as to the commitment of the teams. Newcastle proved too good for Harlequins and Exeter in Pool B with the Chiefs holding the Falcons to a draw before coming up short in their bid to celebrate their debut as a Premiership side with a final appearance.
Saracens took control of Pool A with a comprehensive 24-5 victory over Sale in the night's opening game. Sarries stole an early advantage with a try from Barrett with Mordt adding the extras. Sarries continued to dominate proceedings but failed to capitalise on their territorial advantage and had t rely on an error from Sale to grab their second. A floated pass was picked off by Cato who coasted the length of the field before dotting down and gifting Mordt another simple conversion.
Another burst of speed from Cato saw him notch his second try shortly after the break but Sale hit back with a try from Josh Fowles who got on the end of a Henry Thomas cross kick to offer a glimmer of hope to his side. But Jake Sharp put the result beyond doubt with his side's fourth try that also ensured a bonus point.
The Pool B action began with Newcastle beating Harlequins 26-19 in a highly entertaining clash. A smart piece of skill from Quins' Miles Mantella put Jack Clifford in for the game's opening try and the pace of Sam Smith saw them double their lead soon after with Howard Graham adding the extras. But back came Newcastle with Steve Parsons cutting a good line through the Quins defence to notch a try.
And the Falcons had the lead just after the re-start with Aaron Myers combining well with Fred Burdon for a score that was again converted to give them the lead for the first time in the game. And they extended their lead with a try from Mike Ward who did incredibly well to touch down in the corner under pressure with TV replays suggesting he put a knee in touch. But back came Quins with Charlie Walker scything through the middle of the Falcons defence for a try under the posts, although his grounding was debateable, and his conversion levelled the score with a minute to play. But Burdon had the final say with a try at the death to clinch the win.
Northampton began their quest for some early season silverware with a 22-17 victory over Sale but were pushed all the way by the Sharks. A good hand off from Ben Nutley laid the foundation for Northampton's first try and another sustained spell of pressure brought a second from John Brake a couple of minutes later. Fowles blasted his way through the Northampton defence on his way to a score soon after but the response from Saints was swift with Simon Hunt ghosting over in the corner. Sale continued to show sign of life with a try from Will Addison early in the second half and Fowles levelled the scores when gifted an opening by an otherwise resolute Saints defence. But Northampton had the final say in a see-saw clash with Greg Barden dancing his way through to score the match-winning try.
Premiership new boys Exeter battled to a 10-10 draw with Newcastle in their first appearance of the evening. The Chiefs wasted no time in taking the lead with Mike Canty darting over in the first minute after a lively opening and their impressive work rate brought further reward midway through the half with Eoghan Grace collecting his own chip through before claiming an excellent score. The dazzling pace of Tyson Lewis then punished some lapse defence from the Chiefs but they could not make any further inroads in the deficit before the break. A great tap tackle from Garrick Cowley on Parsons stopped a near-certain try in a closely fought second half but a yellow card for the Chiefs' Josh Matavesi for a dangerous tackle handed Newcastle a crucial advantage with Burdon crossing in the corner in the immediate aftermath. The conversion was missed ensuring the first draw in this year's competition.
Saracens booked their place in the final with a 17-10 victory over Northampton in a heated battle. The pace of Cato once again proved a valuable weapon for Sarries with the speedster claiming his second length-of-the-field effort and his third try of the evening in the opening minutes of the contest. Back came Saints with Nutley crossing in the corner after some good work from James Rodwell who saw yellow after the re-start for the latest dangerous tackle of the evening. The Saints battled bravely in adversity but it was Sarries who grabbed the next try only to see it ruled out and play called back following a scuffle that saw Jackson Wray sent to the sin-bin.
Luke Baldwin pounced at the start of the second half to cement Saracens' lead and put them within reach of the final and they continued to weather the loss of Wray with George Kruis barging his way over from close range. Rodwell and Brake combined well to breathe life into Northampton's challenge but they could not overhaul their rivals.
Exeter entered the final pool match of the evening against Harlequins requiring a bonus point victory to deny Newcastle a place in the title-decider but never came close with a 17-0 loss ensuring a disappointing end to their title challenge. Quins were in no mood to make things easy and took the lead through a try for Mantella after a bruising opening. Errors littered the Chiefs' efforts to rescue the game while Quins offered plenty of enterprise that resulted in a second try for Mantella before Charlie Walker heaped further woe on the Premiership new boys.
Saracens 24-5 Sale Sharks
Northampton: Tom Powell, Mike Haywood, Greg Barden, Sam Farmer, Charlie Sadler, Ryan Glynn, Ben Nutley, James Rodwell, John Brake, Glyn Hughes, Jamie Elliott, Simon Hunt
Sale: David Tait, Ben Davey, Henry Thomas, Charlie Baleirara, Freddie Silcock, Josh Fowles, Nick Royle, Will Addison, Ed Stobart, Elliot Brierley, Mike Petri, Rhys Crane
Saracens: George Kruis, Jackson Wray, Don Barrell, Nils Mordt, Kevin Barrett, Luke Baldwin, Jake Sharp, Henry Staff, Owen Farrell, Ben Ransom, Noah Cato, Dave Vincent
*Qualified for Final
Exeter: Herbie Stupple, Eoghan Grace, Charlie Walker-Blair, Garrick Cowley, Josh Matavesi, Paul McKenzie, Mike Canty, Jamie Fleming, Chris Reakes, Rob Coote, Jack Nowell, Dave Bargent
Harlequins: Joe Trayfoot, Sam Smith, Jack Clifford, Rob Buchanan, Alex Stout, Joe Beckett, Charlie Walker, JJ Kilmartin, Miles Mantella, Howard Graham, Ross Chisholm
Newcastle: Steve Parsons, Rob Vickerman, Aaron Myers, Chris Pilgrim, Pete Jericevich, Fred Burdon, Charlie Amesbury, Sam Shires, Sep Visser, Mike Ward, Tyson Lewis, Hamish Smales
Group A (Twickenham Stoop, July 16): Harlequins, Saracens, London Irish, London Wasps
The Final will be exclusively LIVE on ESPN in the UK
"We were only five metres away in the last Test of getting that try and with Jonny's inevitable conversion, we'd have won it." Tom Hamilton talks to Lions fullback Matt Perry
Toulon's Heineken Cup final victory over Clermont Auvergne may have ended a long title drought for the Top 14 club but two of their players are no strangers to success
We bring you our pick of the best pictures from around the world in the last seven days with the battle for Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup glory taking centre stage