Planet Rugby

Saracens take control of Pool Five

16th December 2011 19:36

Share:

Dan Biggar Dave Strettle Ospreys v Saracens 2011

Saracens: Leading the charge in Pool 5

Saracens took a step towards the Heineken Cup quarter-finals on Friday with a 16-13 win over the Ospreys at Liberty Stadium.

As was the case last week, Saracens were able to build off the platform of a dominant line-out and held a 16-6 lead at the break as Ospreys tried in vain to find a crack in a very well-organised defence.

Indeed, the key to victory was the Sarries' impenetrable wall as Ospreys did most of the playing but struggled to breach the red-clad line with the regularity needed to force a positive result.

But the home side were determined not to give up their impressive home record without a fight and a strong second half performance - plus two yellow cards for Saracens - meant that the result was in the balance right up to the final whistle.

The back-to-back wins leave Saracens at the top of Pool Five, two points clear of Biarritz.

Ospreys fly-half Dan Biggar's penalty in the twelfth minute cancelled out Owen Farrell's earlier effort to cap a fiery opening spell that saw a few handbags fly.

The pattern continued as Farrell and Biggar traded penalties while the pushing and shoving escalated and referee Jerome Garces needed a long word with the captains to try regain control of the match that was threatening to boil over.

Ospreys had been the more enterprising side but Sarries landed the first telling blow just before the half-hour mark when Charlie Hodgson charged down his opposite number Biggar and Ernst Joubert pounced on the loose ball to score behind the sticks, allowing Farrell an easy conversion.

Ospreys dominated possession in the first half, but were unable to secure the quick ball needed to work their way around Saracens' defensive line.

Saracens took charge of the game in the closing stages of the first half as Farrell added another penalty before Ospreys loosehead Paul James was sent to the bin for repeated scrum infringements.

Much to the frustration of the players and spectators not one scrum was completed in the whole of the first half.

The home side weren't doing themselves any favours as Biggar missed an easy penalty soon after the restart. The local fans were left further frustrated when Ashley Beck was denied a try by the TMO for making a double movement to get over the line.

The hosts were however handed a lifeline when Sarries hooker Schalk Brits was also sent to the bin (for an early engagement). Brits was as much a victim of the referee's failure to communicate adequately with the players as the English club's pack's overeagerness to get the jump on their opposition.

In the end neither sin-binning resulted in a change on the scoreboard. But monsieur Garces would continue to leave his mark on the game when Kelly Brown also saw yellow for obstruction.

This time Osprey did make the most of the opportunity as Biggar floated out a beautiful pass to lock Ian Gough who wriggled over in the corner for a try. Biggar's conversion narrowed the gap to three points, setting up a grandstand finish.

But despite Farrell missing a late penalty, Ospreys were unable to find the extra try they needed for victory and now drop to third in the pool with two rounds remaining.

The scorers:

For Ospreys:
Try: Gough
Con: Biggar
Pens: Biggar 2

For Saracens:
Try: Joubert
Con: Farrell
Pens: Farrell 3

Yellow cards: James (Ospreys - 38th min - repeated scrum infringement); Brits (Saracens - 51st min - repeated scrum infringement); Brown (Saracens - 63rd min - obstruction)

Ospreys: 15 Richard Fussell, 14 Tommy Bowe, 13 Andrew Bishop, 12 Ashley Beck, 11 Shane Williams, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Rhys Webb, 8 Jonathan Thomas, 7 Justin Tipuric (capt), 6 Ryan Jones, 5 Ian Evans, 4 Ian Gough, 3 Adam Jones, 2 Richard Hibbard, 1 Paul James.
Replacements: 16 Huw Bennett, 17 Duncan Jones, 18 Aaron Jarvis, 19 Joe Bearman, 20 George Stowers, 21 Kahn Fotuali'i, 22 Matthew Morgan, 23 Hanno Dirksen.

Saracens: 15 Alex Goode, 14 David Strettle, 13 Owen Farrell, 12 Brad Barritt, 11 Chris Wyles, 10 Charlie Hodgson, 9 Ben Spencer, 8 Ernst Joubert, 7 Jacques Burger, 6 Kelly Brown, 5 Mouritz Botha, 4 Steve Borthwick (c), 3 Matt Stevens, 2 Schalk Brits, 1 Rhys Gill.
Replacements: 16 John Smit, 17 Deon Carstens, 18 Carlos Nieto, 19 George Kruis, 20 Andy Saull, 21 Peter Stringer, 22 Adam Powell, 23 James Short.

Venue: Liberty Stadium, Swansea
Referee: Jerome Garces

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Friday , September 26
London Welsh vs Gloucester19:45
Saturday , September 27
Saracens vs Sale15:00
Leicester vs London Irish15:00
Northampton vs Bath15:15
Sunday , September 28
Exeter vs Harlequins14:00
Wasps vs Newcastle14:00
More Aviva Premiership fixtures
Rugby Championship
Saturday , September 27
South Africa vs Australia16:05
Argentina vs New Zealand23:10
More Rugby Championship fixtures
Guinness PRO12
Friday , September 26
Edinburgh vs Scarlets19:35
Leinster vs Cardiff Blues19:35
Glasgow vs Connacht19:35
Saturday , September 27
Zebre vs Ulster15:00
Munster vs Ospreys18:30
Sunday , September 28
Newport Gwent D'gons vs Benetton Treviso16:00
More Guinness PRO12 fixtures
Top 14
Saturday , September 27
Toulon vs Montpellier18:00
Stade Francais vs La Rochelle18:00
Bayonne vs Toulouse18:00
Brive vs Bordeaux-Begles18:00
Oyonnax vs Clermont Auvergne18:00
Lyon vs Castres18:00
Grenoble vs Racing Metro Paris18:00
More Top 14 fixtures
Currie Cup
Friday , September 26
Cheetahs vs Blue Bulls19:10
Saturday , September 27
Sharks vs Eastern Province Kings14:00
Pumas vs Western Province15:00
Griquas vs Lions15:00
More Currie Cup fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , September 21
Newcastle 10 - 35 NorthamptonNewcastle vs Northampton Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Guinness PRO12
Ospreys 62 - 13 EdinburghOspreys vs Edinburgh Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
ITM Cup
Otago 38 - 7 WaikatoOtago vs Waikato Report
Wellington 20 - 42 TasmanWellington vs Tasman Report
More ITM Cup results
Aviva Premiership
Saturday , September 20
Sale 46 - 8 London WelshSale vs London Welsh Report
Harlequins 26 - 23 WaspsHarlequins vs Wasps Report
London Irish 32 - 36 SaracensLondon Irish vs Saracens Report
Bath 45 - 0 LeicesterBath vs Leicester Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Guinness PRO12
Newport Gwent D'gons 13 - 33 GlasgowNewport Gwent D
Scarlets 43 - 0 Benetton TrevisoScarlets vs Benetton Treviso Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Top 14
Racing Metro Paris 27 - 16 ToulouseRacing Metro Paris vs Toulouse Report
Grenoble 24 - 15 Bayonne
Montpellier 23 - 3 Stade FrancaisMontpellier vs Stade Francais Report
La Rochelle 26 - 29 Bordeaux-Begles
Clermont Auvergne 43 - 12 LyonClermont Auvergne vs Lyon Report
Castres 27 - 18 Oyonnax
More Top 14 results
Currie Cup
Western Province 36 - 12 GriquasWestern Province vs Griquas Report
Blue Bulls 15 - 26 SharksBlue Bulls vs Sharks Report
Eastern Province Kings 22 - 37 CheetahsEastern Province Kings vs Cheetahs Report
More Currie Cup results
ITM Cup
Hawkes Bay 36 - 17 Bay Of Plenty
Manawatu 36 - 17 Southland
Auckland 32 - 7 North HarbourAuckland vs North Harbour Report
More ITM Cup results
Aviva Premiership
Friday , September 19
Gloucester 22 - 25 ExeterGloucester vs Exeter Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Guinness PRO12
Munster 31 - 5 ZebreMunster vs Zebre Report
Cardiff Blues 9 - 26 UlsterCardiff Blues vs Ulster Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Bath314
2Saracens313
3Northampton311
4Exeter310
5Leicester Tigers39