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No slip ups from Saracens as they return to top with win at Wasps

Published 27/12/2015

Owen Farrell scored a try as Saracens returned to the top of the Aviva Premiership.
Owen Farrell scored a try as Saracens returned to the top of the Aviva Premiership.

Saracens maintained their unbeaten record to return to the top of the Aviva Premiership table with a 26-16 victory over Wasps at the Ricoh Arena.

After last week's impressive European Cup win over Bath, Wasps were hugely disappointing before a crowd of 24,053.

The hosts tried to play Saracens at their own kicking game but the tactic failed as their set-piece malfunctioned and they made a host of elementary errors.

Despite this, Wasps were still in contention at 9-9 at the end of the quarter but two tries in three minutes from Duncan Taylor and Owen Farrell turned the game the visitors' way.

Farrell converted both tries and kicked four penalties as Saracens took their winning run over their rivals to nine games.

Wasps could only manage a late try from Frank Halai, converted by Jimmy Gopperth, who kicked two penalties. Elliot Daly added another.

Saracens did the basics far better with former Wasp Billy Vunipola their outstanding performer.

The dominance of the visitors' pack allowed Richard Wigglesworth's kicking to control proceedings - it was more accurate than anything Wasps could manage.

Wasps missed key players Nathan Hughes and George Smith, who were both injured.

Thomas Young and Guy Thompson replaced them in the back row whilst scrum-half Dan Robson - preferred to Joe Simpson - and centre Alapati Leiua, were included in the back division.

Lock George Kruis and number eight Billy Vunipola returned from injury to strengthen the Saracens pack. Behind the scrum, Richard Wigglesworth and Chris Wyles were both recalled to the starting line-up.

Saracens were ahead after only a minute when Farrell kicked a penalty as Wasps offended after a charged down clearance from Gopperth. Seven minutes later, the outside half was again on target when the hosts were penalised in the scrum.

An error from Alex Goode gave Wasps their first period of pressure. His kick went straight into touch, allowing the home side into the opposition half and, when Saracens were penalised, Gopperth put Wasps on the scoreboard.

When Maro Itoje was penalised at a line-out on halfway, Daly stepped up but his kick to level the scores, giving Saracens a 6-3 interval lead.

Within five minutes of the restart, Daly had another opportunity from a similar position and this time he made no mistake. However within a minute, Saracens regained the lead with a third penalty from Farrell.

Wasps had the better of the opening period of the second half and after 55 minutes, Gopperth deservedly levelled the scores with his second penalty.

Out of nowhere, Saracens produced a splendid try to put daylight between the teams.

An excellent pass from Brad Barritt sent Taylor flying through a gap before the centre rounded a poor tackling attempt from Rob Miller to race over for the try, which Farrell converted.

Three minutes later, Saracens sealed the game when Taylor seized a loose ball to send Farrell away on a 20-metre run to the line - and the outside half's conversion and fourth penalty put the visitors out of sight.

With three minutes remaining, Halai scored a consolation try - which Gopperth converted. However, Saracens were deserved winners.

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