Ruthless Saracens earn bonus point Ulster victory

Richard Wigglesworth on the attack for Saracens

Saracens followed up last week’s win over Toulouse with a 9-20 European Rugby Champions Cup bonus point victory over Ulster at the Kingspan Stadium.

Saracens had defeated four-time champions Toulouse 32-7 in their Pool 1 opener last week and were just as fluent in Northern Ireland in testing conditions.

Ulster’s opening game last week against French team Oyonnax was called off in the aftermath of the Paris terror attacks.

Billy Vunipola scored the bonus point try on full time while Mako Vunipola was named European Rugby Champions Cup man of the match.

Saracens outscored their opponents by four tries to none and are top of the Ppol with nine points while their opponents – Oyonnax, Toulouse and Ulster have yet to register a point.

Saracens look to be the form team in Europe as they are unbeaten in European Rugby and are unbeaten in the Aviva Premiership.

In successive weeks the English Premiership champions have beaten two former European champions convincingly.

Ulster enjoyed the stronger start and went into the break leading 9-5 but Saracens came out for the second half in a determined mood and outscored their hosts by 22-0.

Ulster had first use of the big wind and led 9-5 at the break. Paddy Jackson kicked two penalties and a drop goal, but it was the visitors who came up with the first try when Owen Farrell’s delightful cut-out pass was carried on by Alex Goode and then turned into a score by Chris Wyles.

The home fans thought there was a case for a red card against Saracens South African back row man Michael Rhodes when he hit Andrew Trimble in the air, but Romain Poite determined that it was only a yellow card after consulting with his TMO.

That came in the fourth minute and Billy Vunipola picked up a second card for a no arms tackle after the break. Significantly, the visitors didn’t conceded any points when they were reduced to 14 men and have now stretched their unbeaten record this season to six matches.

With the wind at their backs, Saracens dominated territory in the second half, but it still took them a further 20 minutes to break down the Ulster defence and take the lead. It was an Alex Goode kick that created the position from which the first try came and it was his chip over the top of the defence that made the second.

Duncan Taylor picked up the kind bounce and then threw a brilliant inside pass to the supporting Goode who strolled over for a try which Owen Farrell converted to put the English champions ahead for the first time.

Farrell then accelerated through a gap on the blindside of a ruck on the home 22 to send Taylor in for a third try. The outside half added a penalty to extend the lead and the coup de grace came with a driving line-out try from Billy Vunipola that brought up the bonus point.

Charlie Hodgson kicked the conversion and Ulster were dead and buried.

Final Score Ulster 9 (9) Saracens 27 (5)


Tries –
Pen – Jackson 2
Con –
Drop – Jackson

Tries – Wyles, Goode, Taylor, B.Vunipola
Pen – Farrell
Con – Farrell, Hodgson
Drop –

Match Officials
Referee: Romain Poite (France),
Assistant ref: Cyril Lafon (France),
Assistant ref: Pierre Brousset (France),
TMO: Eric Gauzins (France),
Citing Commissioner: Patrice Frantschi (France)


Ulster Rugby: Louis Ludik; Andrew Trimble, Darren Cave, Stuart McCloskey, Craig Gilroy; Paddy Jackson, Ruan Pienaar; Callum Black, Rory Best (c), Wiehahn Herbst, Dan Tuohy, Franco Van Der Merwe, Iain Henderson, Chris Henry, Nick Williams
Replacements: Rob Herring, Kyle McCall, Ricky Lutton, Robbie Diack, Roger Wilson, Paul Marshall, Ian Humphreys, Peter Nelson

Saracens: Alex Goode; Chris Ashton, Duncan Taylor, Brad Barritt (c), Chris Wyles; Owen Farrell, Richard Wigglesworth; Mako Vunipola, Schalk Brits, Petrus du Plessis, George Kruis, Maro Itoje, Michael Rhodes, Jacques Burger, Billy Vunipola

Replacements: Jamie George, Rhys Gill, Juan Figallo, Alistair Hargreaves, Jackson Wray, Neil de Kock, Charlie Hodgson, Marcelo Bosch

With thanks to EPCRugby

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