Bonus point Saracens thump Oyonnax

Chris Ashton scored a hat-trick of tries

Saracens put themselves firmly on top of Pool 1 in the European Rugby Champions Cup by beating Oyonnax 55-13 with a bonus point at Allianz Park.

Saracens have now played four and won four and lead Pool 1 with 19 points while Ulster are second with 5 points from two matches.

The result means that Saracens have one foot in the quarter finals and can now set themselves a realistic target of playing that knock out match at home.

The victory is a tenth out of 10 matches this season and comes a week after a six-try 45-10 win at Oyonnax.

Debutants Oyonnax are now sure to miss out on the knock-out rounds after a third defeat in a row in the competition.

They did, however, get a second-half interception try from Fetu’u Vainikolo.

Saracens were a lick of paint away from taking the lead when wing Ellery touched down in the left corner but his heel had just brushed the touchline before grounding.

Yet the hosts stole Oyonnax’s line-out and following barging pressure form the forwards, they span the ball wide right where Ashton dived over in the corner on 12 minutes.

England Sevens international Ellery was on fire early on and his break from Duncan Taylor’s inside pass almost set up Ashton for a second score.

Just as was the case a week ago in France, the English champions threatened to run away with the match before half-time.

Only a forward pass by early replacement hooker George denied Ashton a second touchdown in the right corner.

But he didn’t have to wait long for that to come as fly-half Owen Farrell’s clever grubber sent Ashton clear of the Oyonnax backline.

Although Farrell kicked one penalty, Saracens regularly demonstrated their intent to secure the attacking bonus point as soon as possible, and put several kickable penalties into touch for an attacking line-out.

From one of those on the stroke of half-time, Vunisa was driven over by an unstoppable rolling maul for the third try and a 20-6 lead going into the break that reflected their concentration on gleaning a bonus point rather than on killing off dominated opponents.

Straight after the restart the hosts repeated the trick with Vunisa again driven over as Oyonnax simply couldn’t handle the Saracens power up front.

With the bonus point secured, Sarries let loose.

A few minutes later, fullback Alex Goode dissected a ponderous Oyonnax defence and ran half the length of the field before sliding over the line.

Oyonnax’s defence was crumbling, as was their attack, allowing Ellery to pick up a wayward pass down the French line before sprinting clear from inside his own half to score the sixth try.

George then made up for his earlier indiscretion by running a perfect line and showing a surprising turn of pace to take replacement fly-half Charlie Hodgson’s pass and score the seventh try.

Vainikolo’s score 12 minutes from time was nothing but scant consolation as Ashton had the last word after a Richard Wigglesworth grubber that was a carbon copy of the try Farrell set up in the first period.

On Friday night, New Zealand legend Dan Carter kicked three penalties as Racing 92 drew 9-9 at Northampton Saints, for whom Stephen Myler also had three successful kicks at goal.

That left unbeaten Racing two points ahead of Saints in Pool 3, but also with a game in hand.

The big match later on Saturday sees champions Toulon travel to fellow three-time winners Leinster on Pool 5.

Chris Ashton was named European Rugby Champions Cup man of the match after scoring a hat-trick of tries.

Final Score Saracens 55 (20) Oyonnax 13 (13)

Scorers

Saracens
Tries – Ashton (3), Vunisa (2), Goode, Ellery, George
Pen – Farrell
Con – Farrell (4), Hodgson (2)
Drop –

Oyonnax
Tries – Vainikolo
Pen – Lespinas (2)
Con – Clegg
Drop –

Match Officials
Referee: George Clancy (Ireland),
Assistant ref: Peter Fitzgibbon (Ireland),
Assistant ref: Jonathan Peak (Ireland),
TMO: Marshall Kilgore (Ireland),
Citing Commissioner: Stefano Marrama (Italy)

Teams

Saracens: Alex Goode; Chris Ashton, Duncan Taylor, Brad Barritt (c), Michael Ellery; Owen Farrell, Neil de Kock; Mako Vunipola, Schalk Brits, Petrus du Plessis, Jim Hamilton, Maro Itoje, Jackson Wray, Kelly Brown, Samu Vunisa

Replacements: Jamie George, Richard Barrington, Juan Figallo, Michael Rhodes, Will Fraser, Richard Wigglesworth, Charlie Hodgson, Ben Ransom

Oyonnax: Florian Denos (c); Daniel Ikpefan, Guillaume Bousses, Uwa Tawalo, Fetu’u Vainikolo; Regis Lespinas, Julien Blanc; Laurent Delboulbès, Jeremie Maurouard, Marc Clerc, Leon Power, Geoffrey Fabbri, Valentin Ursache, Pedrie Wannenburg, Florian Faure

Replacements: Jody Jenneker, Stan Wright, Horace Pungea , Viliami Maafu, Thomas Bordes, Arthur Aziza, Rory Clegg, Vincent Martin

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