Tuesday 27 September 2016

Saracens show title credentials by claiming bonus point success over blunt Ulster

Published 20/11/2015 | 22:10

20 November 2015; Alex Goode, Saracens, scores his side's second try of the game. European Rugby Champions Cup, Pool 1, Round 2, Ulster v Saracens. Kingspan Stadium, Ravenhill Park, Belfast. Picture credit: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE
20 November 2015; Alex Goode, Saracens, scores his side's second try of the game. European Rugby Champions Cup, Pool 1, Round 2, Ulster v Saracens. Kingspan Stadium, Ravenhill Park, Belfast. Picture credit: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE
20 November 2015; Alex Goode, Saracens, scores his side's second try of the game. European Rugby Champions Cup, Pool 1, Round 2, Ulster v Saracens. Kingspan Stadium, Ravenhill Park, Belfast. Picture credit: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE
20 November 2015; Owen Farrell, Saracens, kicks a conversion. European Rugby Champions Cup, Pool 1, Round 2, Ulster v Saracens. Kingspan Stadium, Ravenhill Park, Belfast. Picture credit: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE
20 November 2015; Ulster's Chris Henry leaves the pitch with an injury. European Rugby Champions Cup, Pool 1, Round 2, Ulster v Saracens. Kingspan Stadium, Ravenhill Park, Belfast. Picture credit: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE
20 November 2015; Chris Ashton, Saracens, is tackled by Roger Wilson, Ulster. European Rugby Champions Cup, Pool 1, Round 2, Ulster v Saracens. Kingspan Stadium, Ravenhill Park, Belfast. Picture credit: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE
20 November 2015; Maro Itoje, Saracens, is tackled by Dan Tuohy, left, and Wiehahn Herbst, Ulster. European Rugby Champions Cup, Pool 1, Round 2, Ulster v Saracens. Kingspan Stadium, Ravenhill Park, Belfast. Picture credit: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE
20 November 2015; Chris Ashton, Saracens, is tackled by Craig Gilroy, Ulster. European Rugby Champions Cup, Pool 1, Round 2, Ulster v Saracens. Kingspan Stadium, Ravenhill Park, Belfast. Picture credit: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE
20 November 2015; Referee Romain Poite consults with assistant referee Cyril Lafond after a first half incident. European Rugby Champions Cup, Pool 1, Round 2, Ulster v Saracens. Kingspan Stadium, Ravenhill Park, Belfast. Picture credit: Oliver McVeigh / SPORTSFILE
20 November 2015; Alex Goode, Saracens, is tackled by Craig Gilroy and Darren Cave, Ulster. European Rugby Champions Cup, Pool 1, Round 2, Ulster v Saracens. Kingspan Stadium, Ravenhill Park, Belfast. Picture credit: Oliver McVeigh / SPORTSFILE
20 November 2015; Owen Farrell, Saracens, is tackled by Chris Henry, Ulster. European Rugby Champions Cup, Pool 1, Round 2, Ulster v Saracens. Kingspan Stadium, Ravenhill Park, Belfast. Picture credit: Oliver McVeigh / SPORTSFILE
20 November 2015; Schalk Brits, Saracens, is tackled by Franco van der Merwe, Ulster. European Rugby Champions Cup, Pool 1, Round 2, Ulster v Saracens. Kingspan Stadium, Ravenhill Park, Belfast. Picture credit: Oliver McVeigh / SPORTSFILE
20 November 2015; Iain Henderson, Ulster, trys to win the ball in the lineout. European Rugby Champions Cup, Pool 1, Round 2, Ulster v Saracens. Kingspan Stadium, Ravenhill Park, Belfast. Picture credit: Oliver McVeigh / SPORTSFILE
20 November 2015; Chris Wyles, Saracens, right, is congratulated by Duncan Taylor after running in his side's first try. European Rugby Champions Cup, Pool 1, Round 2, Ulster v Saracens. Kingspan Stadium, Ravenhill Park, Belfast. Picture credit: Oliver McVeigh / SPORTSFILE
20 November 2015; Alex Goode, Saracens, in action against Stuart McCloskey, Ulster. European Rugby Champions Cup, Pool 1, Round 2, Ulster v Saracens. Kingspan Stadium, Ravenhill Park, Belfast. Picture credit: Oliver McVeigh / SPORTSFILE
20 November 2015; Owen Farrell, Saracens, kicks a penalty. European Rugby Champions Cup, Pool 1, Round 2, Ulster v Saracens. Kingspan Stadium, Ravenhill Park, Belfast. Picture credit: Oliver McVeigh / SPORTSFILE
20 November 2015; Duncan Taylor, Saracens, in action against Louis Ludik, Ulster. European Rugby Champions Cup, Pool 1, Round 2, Ulster v Saracens. Kingspan Stadium, Ravenhill Park, Belfast. Picture credit: Oliver McVeigh / SPORTSFILE
20 November 2015; Chris Wyles, Saracens, runs in his side's first try. European Rugby Champions Cup, Pool 1, Round 2, Ulster v Saracens. Kingspan Stadium, Ravenhill Park, Belfast. Picture credit: Oliver McVeigh / SPORTSFILE
20 November 2015; Chris Ashton, Saracens, is tackled by Craig Gilroy, Ulster. European Rugby Champions Cup, Pool 1, Round 2, Ulster v Saracens. Kingspan Stadium, Ravenhill Park, Belfast. Picture credit: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE
20 November 2015; Chris Wyles, Saracens, is tackled by Craig Gilroy, Ulster. European Rugby Champions Cup, Pool 1, Round 2, Ulster v Saracens. Kingspan Stadium, Ravenhill Park, Belfast. Picture credit: Oliver McVeigh / SPORTSFILE
20 November 2015; Billy Vunipola, Saracens, is tackled by Iain Henderson, Ulster. European Rugby Champions Cup, Pool 1, Round 2, Ulster v Saracens. Kingspan Stadium, Ravenhill Park, Belfast. Picture credit: Oliver McVeigh / SPORTSFILE
20 November 2015; Craig Gilroy, Ulster, is tackled by Mako Vunipola, Saracens. European Rugby Champions Cup, Pool 1, Round 2, Ulster v Saracens. Kingspan Stadium, Ravenhill Park, Belfast. Picture credit: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE
20 November 2015; Alex Goode, Saracens, is tackled by Darren Cave, Ulster. European Rugby Champions Cup, Pool 1, Round 2, Ulster v Saracens. Kingspan Stadium, Ravenhill Park, Belfast. Picture credit: Oliver McVeigh / SPORTSFILE
20 November 2015; Craig Gilroy, Ulster, is tackled by Mako Vunipola, Saracens. European Rugby Champions Cup, Pool 1, Round 2, Ulster v Saracens. Kingspan Stadium, Ravenhill Park, Belfast. Picture credit: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE
20 November 2015; Both teams observe a minutes silence for the victims of the Paris attack and the passing of All Black great Jonah Lomu. European Rugby Champions Cup, Pool 1, Round 2, Ulster v Saracens. Kingspan Stadium, Ravenhill Park, Belfast. Picture credit: Oliver McVeigh / SPORTSFILE
20 November 2015; Darren Cave, Ulster, is tackled by George Kruis, left, and Brad Barritt, Saracens. European Rugby Champions Cup, Pool 1, Round 2, Ulster v Saracens. Kingspan Stadium, Ravenhill Park, Belfast. Picture credit: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE
20 November 2015; Alex Goode, Saracens, is tackled by Louis Ludik, Ulster. European Rugby Champions Cup, Pool 1, Round 2, Ulster v Saracens. Kingspan Stadium, Ravenhill Park, Belfast. Picture credit: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE
20 November 2015; Nick Williams, Ulster, is tackled by Maro Itoje, Saracens. European Rugby Champions Cup, Pool 1, Round 2, Ulster v Saracens. Kingspan Stadium, Ravenhill Park, Belfast. Picture credit: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE
20 November 2015; Both sides stand for a minute's silence ahead of the game. European Rugby Champions Cup, Pool 1, Round 2, Ulster v Saracens. Kingspan Stadium, Ravenhill Park, Belfast. Picture credit: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE
20 November 2015; Both sides, including Ulster's Roger Wilson, left, stand for a minute's silence ahead of the game. European Rugby Champions Cup, Pool 1, Round 2, Ulster v Saracens. Kingspan Stadium, Ravenhill Park, Belfast. Picture credit: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE
20 November 2015; Darren Cave, Ulster, is tackled by Mako Vunipola, left, and Duncan Taylor, Saracens. European Rugby Champions Cup, Pool 1, Round 2, Ulster v Saracens. Kingspan Stadium, Ravenhill Park, Belfast. Picture credit: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE

Saracens took complete control of Pool One by coming away from the Kingspan Stadium with a hugely impressive 27-9 win over Ulster to bring Mark McCall's side two wins from two in the European Rugby Champions Cup.

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The Aviva Premiership leaders scored the game's only tries through Chris Wyles, Alex Goode, Duncan Taylor and Billy Vunipola with the touchdowns from Goode and Taylor being scored when the visitors were down to 14 men.

Indeed, Saracens shipped two yellow cards, coming in either half, with Michael Rhodes and Vunipola being sent to the bin, but actually managed to make light of both potentially damaging situations.

On a bitterly cold night, with a swirling wind and occasional snow, Owen Farrell kicked just one penalty and a conversion while Ulster's only scores were in the first half with Paddy Jackson kicking two penalties and a drop goal. Charlie Hodgson also added a conversion for Sarries.

Ulster, playing their first game after last weekend's postponement at Oyonnax, led 9-5 at the break but failed to score again and their hopes of qualification have now suffered potentially terminal damage in Les Kiss' first European game in charge.

Ulster got the scoreboard moving at the 15-minute mark after Darren Cave had been hit high by Brad Barritt, with Jackson nailing the kick from close range.

The hosts managed another score on 20 minutes when, with a penalty coming their way and the wind behind them, Jackson coolly slotted a drop goal.

Five minutes later and referee Romain Poite reversed a penalty he had initially given against Ulster after Nick Williams was downed by a no-arms tackle from Jacques Burger. Jackson landed the kick and the home side now led 9-0.

But Sarries hit back right on the half-hour when wing Wyles crossed in the corner after the visitors had shaped to maul a line-out but then moved the ball at pace right across the line with Goode providing the assist.

Farrell failed to add the difficult conversion but Ulster's lead had been cut to four points. It could have been cut to one had Farrell not missed another penalty attempt just before the half-time whistle.

The second half began with Saracens laying siege to Ulster's line and only a charge out of defence from Iain Henderson got the home side out of their half. Vunipola was then sin-binned in the 54th minute after hitting Iain Henderson high.

But it was the visitors who struck and despite being down a man, Goode put up a chip which Wyles gathered and his wonderful off-load took out two defenders and sent Goode over unopposed.

This time, Farrell nailed the conversion - his first success of the night - and on the hour Sarries had the lead 12-9.

Still down to 14 men, Sarries came again with Farrell dummying and dancing through the tiring Ulster defence to put Taylor through. Again he missed the extras but at 17-9, and with Vunipola now back, the Premiership side looked in complete control.

Farrell then slotted a penalty before Sarries grabbed their bonus score in the last minute when, with Rory Best in the bin, Vunipola was driven over in a maul and Hodgson converted.

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