Eleven try Saracens blow Connacht away

Saracens scored eleven tries as they thrashed Connacht 64-6 and edged into the Heineken Cup quarter-finals at Allianz Park on Saturday.

Leinster’s 36-3 thrashing of Ospreys on Friday night had left just one remaining
place up for grabs in the last eight and Saracens knew that a victory would
be enough for them to secure it.

But they weren’t content with merely beating their Irish visitors as the 2011
English champions ran in an astonishing 11 tries, including a hat-trick from
wing David Strettle, in a swashbuckling performance.

But for their missing eight conversions, the final score could have been even
more humbling for the Irish province.

The only black mark on an otherwise ideal day was a wayward kicking performance
from Charlie Hodgson, who managed just four successful kicks from 12 attempts.

Scottish fly-half Dan Parks opened the scoring for Connacht with a penalty
on five minutes and even put the visitors back in front with a second successful
kick on 21 minutes following England wing Chris Ashton’s opening try in the
corner for Saracens.

Hodgson put the hosts in front with a penalty, a rare successful strike from
the tee, before tries from Strettle and South African hooker Schalk Brits put
Saracens in control 18-6 ahead at the break.

The second half was one-way traffic as Strettle with two more, full-back Alex
Goode, lock George Kruis, American Chris Wyles, substitute flanker Jackson Wray,
Samoa prop James Johnston and Ashton again, capping it with his trademark swallow
dive, all crossed the whitewash.

Despite the stunning nature of this victory, Saracens will be away to top seeds
Ulster in the quarter-finals.

“We are not a top two or three European side but we are a top eight team,”
said Sarries boss Mark McCall.

“We can step up and learn from defeats at Clermont and Toulouse and can
win away.”

Saracens could have snatched top spot in Pool 3, and an outside shot at a home
quarter-final, but Toulouse stayed in command with a 16-6 win at hapless Italians
Zebre.

Final Score Saracens (13) 64 Connacht (6) 6

Scorers

Saracens
Tries – Ashton 2, Strettle 3, Brits, Goode, Kruis, Wyles, Wray, Johnston
Pen -Hodgson 3
Con – Hodgson
Drop –

Connacht
Tries –
Pen – Parks 2
Con –
Drop –

Match Officials
Referee:
Leighton Hodges (Wales),
Assistant ref: Gwyn Morris (Wales),
Assistant ref: Greg Morgan (Wales),
TMO: Gareth Simmonds (Wales),
Citing Commissioner: Richard McGhee (Scotland)

Saracens: Alex Goode; Chris Ashton, Duncan Taylor, Brad Barritt, David Strettle; Charlie Hodgson, Richard Wigglesworth; Mako Vunipola, Schalk Brits, Matt Stevens, Steve Borthwick (c), George Kruis, Billy Vunipola, Kelly Brown, Ernst Joubert

Replacements: Jamie George, Richard Barrington, James Johnston, Alistair Hargreaves, Jackson Wray, Neil de Kock, Owen Farrell, Chris Wyles

Connacht Rugby: Gavin Duffy; Fionn Carr, Robbie Henshaw, Eoin Griffin, Matt Healy; Dan Parks, Kieran Marmion; Brett Wilkinson, Sean Henry, Nathan White, Michael Swift, Craig Clarke (c), Andrew Browne, Jake Heenan, John Muldoon

Replacements: Jason Harris Wright, Denis Buckley, Rodney Ah You, Mick Kearney, George Naoupu, Paul O’Donohoe, Darragh Leader, Tiernan O’Halloran

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