London Welsh Rugby Club Oxford - News
20th December 2014
Allianz Park
Att: 8037
London Welsh
Match Report

Saracens ran in 11 tries as London Welsh were comprehensively second best at Allianz Park on Saturday.

The defeat surpassed the Exiles’ 71-7 defeat to Wasps last month and after definite signs of improvement on the pitch in recent weeks, the manner and margin of the defeat was hugely disappointing, albeit against a very good Saracens side.

The Exiles simply had no answer to the pace and power of a Saracens team which will no doubt be challenging for major honours come the end of the season. For Welsh, the equation is far simpler, Premiership survival.

That struggle moves on to the Madejski Stadium on Boxing Day when the Exiles face eleventh placed London Irish.

Welsh trailed to a fourth minute Mako Vunipola try with Saracens crossing for four more times before the break to lead 38-7. Rugby League convert Elliot Kear marking his Premiership debut with a try to reply for Welsh, with Will Robinson adding the extras.

But that was as good as it got for Welsh as Saracens ran in a further six tries after the interval – scrum half replacement Richard Wigglesworth claiming a hat-trick.

Saracens sieged the initiative from Owen Farrell’s kick-off – Olly Barkley collecting, only for Welsh to be turned over and the Saracens pack poured into the contact area and came up with it. It was a sign of intent; Saracens were in no mood to let the Christmas cheer in the air around Alianz Park spread to the pitch.

Seb Stegmann’s tackle on Chris Wyles, while the winger was in the air, allowed Saracens to keep the early pressure up with Farrell putting the resulting penalty in the corner and the home pack driving their way over. Farrell added the first of his ten conversions, before stretching the lead with a penalty after the Welsh pack were penalised at a scrum.

Farrell’s break should have resulted in try number two, but for Ernst Joubert spilling the ball, but Welsh couldn’t clear their lines and under relentless pressure from Saracens the TMO ruled that Brett Sharman had done enough to force his way over.

Try number three arrived four minutes later. Saracens’ efficiency at the breakdown was testing the Welsh defence and after working their way up to the Exiles’ tryline, the way finally opened up for George Kruis to cross.

After a whirlwind and one-sided opening 22 minutes Welsh trailed 24-0, but they had the chance to respond. Twice the Exiles kicked penalties to the corner and lined up to try and muscle their way over, but to no avail.

Instead, Saracens cleared and a scrum penalty then allowed Farrell to kick to the corner and Welsh’s susceptibility to the catch and drive was again exposed as Mako Vunipola was driven over for his second.

Chris Ashton then got in on the act. Kear hacked on a loose ball, but the Exiles were then exposed down their short-side as Saracens counter attacked and Ashton was given an easy run in.

Welsh’s one bright moment of the afternoon arrived soon after as Peter Browne plucked a pass from the air and burst forward with purpose, before feeding Kear to race clear for a try on his Premiership debut. But that was as good as it got for the Exiles.

From the restart, Saracens might have struck straight back, only to be held up just short of the Welsh line, and a penalty for holding allowed the Exiles to bring a tough opening 40 minutes to a close.

The rest-bite was only temporary for Welsh, however, as two quick penalties took Saracens back into the danger zone and pressing for more tries. Browne saw yellow as the pressure mounted on the Welsh line and Saracens immediately took advantage as Jackson Wray was driven over.  

Saracens were now rampant with the Exiles subjected to a torrid period. Another catch and drive in the corner led to Richard Barrington stretching over the top of a ruck to touch down, before Wigglesworth picked up and speed through a gap to claim the first of his three tries.

The way to the tryline similarly, and suddenly, opened up for Ben Ransom to race clear for try number nine. Farrell set up Wigglesworth for his second from a quickly taken lineout in the Saracens half, before Jamie George and Ashton combined to set up Wigglesworth to complete his 13-minute hat-trick and a miserable afternoon for Welsh.

Saracens scorers:
Tries: Wigglesworth (3), Mako Vunipola (2), Sharman, Kruis, Ashton, Wray, Barrington, Ransom. Cons: Farrell (10); Pens: Farrell.

London Welsh scorers:
Tries: Kear; Cons: Robinson.

Referee: Ian Tempest
Touch Judges: Roger Baileff & Simon McConnell
Half-time: 38-7

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