Saracens down Wasps to top standings again

Maro Itoje on the burst for Saracens

Saracens maintained their unbeaten run in the Aviva Premiership as they beat Wasps 16-26 at the Ricoh Arena which puts them back on top of the Premiership standings.

Saracens started the match with a record of six wins from six matches and set their sights on taking charge early on, and that’s exactly what they did.

Owen Farrell opened the points-scoring just a minute in, his penalty coming from an offside right from the kick off. And it didn’t take long for him to add to those early points, a second penalty added after the Ricoh side were penalised at the scrum.

It wasn’t a dominant start but for those kicks, with neither side able to grab any real control with no real pressure on either try line in the first 30. Farrell kicked his side just metres from the line as the visitors looked the more likely to go over first.

However some heroic defending held up the attack, and that was crucial as Wasps moved to within three points of Saracens.

Their first kick of the game was sent through by Jimmy Gopperth, who gave the home support something to cheer in a pretty dull first half.

Elliot Daly came mighty close to equalising with the next opportunity. This effort, from all of 50 metres, flew narrowly wide of the posts, as Wasps came right back into the tie. They couldn’t get equal by half-time though, with a low scoring half seeing Saracens go in 6-3 up.

It only took them four minutes of the second half to draw level, however. A couple of Saracens’ men strayed into offside positions, and that gave Daly the perfect platform to fire through the posts and get Wasps back onto level terms, for the first time in 45 minutes.

Not that it lasted long though, because Farrell was instantly presented with the opportunity to re-establish the three point gap. But again that didn’t last, as the Wasps pack won a penalty from what was originally a Saracens scrum. And Gopperth again fired through the posts from distance to level yet again, as this festive tie proved to be a cracker. But two minute shy of the hour, the first try came for the visiting side.

It was well worked, as a break from the scrum unleashed Duncan Taylor who evaded a couple of challenges before slotting down for a memorable try.

And after Farrell converted, he quickly followed Taylor over. Just four minutes after the opener, Taylor turned provider to offload into Farrell, who go in over the line, before converting his own try.

That opened up some real breathing space at long last, with the two quick tries taking all momentum from Wasps as they now faced a 14 point gap.

Farrell fancied his chances on what was a very impressive afternoon for the kicker, but he sent wide a kick from distance with 15 to play. He made amends for that with another three as Saracens wound down the clock in an impressive performance at the Ricoh.

Wasps did give their fans a bit of festive warmth on a cold day however with three to play, Frank Halai going over following a quickfire attack.

Final Score Wasps (3) 16 Harlequins Saracens (6) 26

Scorers

Wasps
Try: Halai
Con: Gopperth
Pens: Gopperth 2, Daly

Saracens
Tries: Taylor, Farrell
Cons: Farrell 2
Pens: Farrell 4

Match Officials
Referee : JP Doyle (101st Premiership game).
Assistant Referees: Simon McConnell & Roger Baileff.
TMO: Trevor Fisher.

Teams

Wasps

15. Rob Miller, 14. Frank Halai, 13. Elliot Daly, 12. Alapati Leiua, 11. Charles Piutau, 10. Jimmy Gopperth, 9. Dan Robson, 1. Matt Mullan, 2. Ashley Johnson, 3. Lorenzo Cittadini, 4. Joe Launchbury, 5. James Gaskell, 6. James Haskell (c), 7. Thomas Young, 8. Guy Thompson

Replacements : 16. Edd Shervington, 17. Simon McIntyre, 18. Phil Swainston, 19. Bradley Davies, 20. Sam Jones, 21. Joe Simpson, 22. Ruaridh Jackson, 23. Sailosi Tagicakibau

Saracens

15 Alex Goode , 14 Chris Ashton , 13 Duncan Taylor , 12 Brad Barritt , 11 Chris Wyles , 10 Owen Farrell , 9 Richard Wigglesworth ,1 Mako Vunipola , 2 Jamie George , 3 Petrus Du Plessis , 4 Maro Itoje , 5 George Kruis , 6 Michael Rhodes , 7 Will Fraser , 8 Billy Vunipola

Replacements :16 Schalk Brits , 17 Richard Barrington , 18 Juan Figallo , 19 Jim Hamilton , 20 Kelly Brown , 21 Ben Spencer , 22 Charlie Hodgson , 23 Marcelo Bosch

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